Creating a Library Feature [VIDEO]

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated April 22, 2013

Do you find yourself creating a fairly complex feature from time to time and wish there was a way to automate the process? Well, good news: there is! Recently I created an economist’s Magic 8-Ball that had sketch text on all the faces that I had to dissolve to copy because I was too lazy to create a new sketch on each face. The result was a very pessimistic economic outlook (all faces said “Recession” because I couldn’t edit the dissolved sketch text). But, whatever your reasons, here is how you can create and use your own library feature:

Imagine the possibilities! You can save so much time by not having to recreate the same features all the time! It works with so much more than just sketched text. If I had also added the other feature (Base-Extrude1) as a Library Feature, then I could drop this into a new part or onto the face of an existing part. If I find myself always making similar features all the time (like always sketching an “L” shape to make angle brackets, for instance), I can make this a library feature. My parts can be full of library features. And, of course, they are fully editable.

Of course, since I don’t want my boss to think it’s so easy to do my job now, I can just right-click on the library feature in the tree and select Dissolve Library Feature, and the library feature disappears, leaving all the features intact! This will also make it easy for my colleagues to edit my work, since the feature tree will look perfectly normal. At a casual glance, it looks like I’ve been busy all day making features while in reality, I made my computer do all the work! Furthermore, if I’ve anticipated my design intent properly when making my library feature, it is actually easier to maintain design intent using this method, since I’m prompted each time I use the library feature to select my references. Dissolving the library feature maintains these references, leaving my design intent intact as well! My ears will finally stop burning when colleagues edit my work.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).