It is possible to create a helical solid in SOLIDWORKS which, rather than extending linearly, actually follows a helical (or other) path. This is actually done using the Sweep command using a twist along the sweep path. The end result can vary quite dramatically, but can potentially look like a twisted phone cord such as this example:
Creating the helical sweep
The steps to create this are as follows. Note that for this example a helical path is used, but in actuality any open loop that would be acceptable for a Sweep path can be used, resulting in a very wide range of end results:
- Create the helical path using the Helix/Spiral command (Insert-> Curve). You first sketch a circle, then use this circle as a basis for the helix. Note the orientation of the main planes with respect to the start of the helix – it is easier later on (but not essential) if the start of the helix is tangent to an existing plane.
- Sketch a small circle in the plane that is tangent to the start of the helix, either below or above the helix. It should therefore be normal to the helix itself. This circle is the basis for the size, shape, and helical diameter of the cord (in the above example).
- Create a Sweep, using the existing helix as the path, and the circle sketch as the profile. Within the sweep options, choose to Twist Along Path, and then choose the number of turns. Click OK.
Sheet Metal Helical Sweep
If you need to create a helical sweep in sheet metal which is able to be flattened then check out this tech tip post »