SOLIDWORKS Sketch Pattern vs Feature Pattern [VIDEO]

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated July 22, 2013


As a former designer of automated machinery, I prefer to stay a stranger to danger by using machine guarding. It keeps the operators safe from my machine and it keeps me safe from litigation. However, since I always want my design to closely approximate what the final product will look like, I don’t want my guarding to be an exception. In this case, I’m using a mesh screen, and I’ve modeled it up using the specs from my supplier. However, my rebuild times are getting pretty bad, since it’s a big machine and has lots and lots of guarding, so I want to use a better method.

Thus far, I’ve created a sketch of a circle with my wire diameter, then used a Linear Sketch Pattern to make the sketch for my vertical wires, then repeated the process for my horizontal wires. Let’s see what I come up with:

That was amazing! Of course, the drawback to the last method I mentioned is that in my detailed drawing, it will not display the mesh because drawings can’t use RealView Graphics. However, even with the 0.17s rebuild time, I’m still far better off than when I started.

If I had done the same thing with the Feature Pattern, the result would have been even better (see screenshot below). Of course, this would have meant editing the pattern to use bodies instead of features.

Rebuild Stats for Feature Pattern, Merge Entities off

Rebuild Stats for Feature Pattern, Merge Entities off

It’s also worth mentioning the file size of the parts vary in the same way. Sketch vs Feature pattern with Merge Entities on: (4.1 MB vs 3.8 MB). Sketch vs Feature pattern with Merge Entities off: (629 kB vs 522 kB). Basic flat plate with Appearance applied: 142 kB.

Considering that the machine I’m guarding needs a 2m high fence and has a perimeter of 9m, that’s 18m², which brings a whopping 63 seconds of rebuild time (just for guarding, to say nothing of the machine itself) down to a modest 0.9 seconds (using the Feature Pattern with Merge Entities off). So much for my coffee break.

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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).