How to Dynamically Avoid Adding Automated Tangent Relations in SolidWorks Sketches

Article by Alin Vargatu, CSWE updated September 1, 2011


I have always loved simple tips and tricks. You know… those shortcuts that save time and always make you look like a magician when you show them to any audience?

For example I remember the time when I was a student in Rob’s Essentials class and he demonstrated the seamless transition from line to arc and back, showing us how to be 10 times more productive than normal. Even now, I still consider that shortcut the most amazing time saving procedure you can learn in SolidWorks.

Like an avid collectioner, I kept gathering these little tips until I reached the point where I started to suspect that I had them all. I was a magician myself, but without any new tricks.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when not long ago I stumbled upon this beauty found by our friend Randy Simmons from 3D Vision technologies. Coincidentally just the day before, in one of my Essentials classes, we had a very animated discussion on the topic of how SolidWorks seems to read your mind by applying relations automatically as you draw. While seeing the advantages of this behaviour, some students felt the need for more control in deciding when the relations are applied. One case in particular was drawing a line starting from the circumference of a circle. SolidWorks believes that you want the starting point of the line to be coincident to the circle and the line itself to be tangent to it. What do you do when you do not need the tangency? Delete the relation after the fact and move the line?

Or press the CTRL key as you start the line so no relation will be added? But then you have to come back and add the coincident relation after drawing the line. So is still not a perfect solution.

Now you probably understand why I enjoyed so much Randy’s article. His workflow is simple and elegant (watch the embedded video). Just start the line by clicking once, move you mouse away and come back to touch the circle. The line will restart from the last point you touched the circle and will not be tangent to it.

Beauty, I tell you!!!

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Alin Vargatu, CSWE

Alin is a SOLIDWORKS Elite Applications Engineer and an avid contributor to the SOLIDWORKS Community. Alin has presented multiple times at SOLIDWORKS World, Technical Summits, and User Group Meetings, while being very active on the SOLIDWORKS Forum.