Why is the SOLIDWORKS Measure Tool not allowing me to take Arc/Circle Measurements?

Article by Mehdi Rezaei, CSWE created/updated November 13, 2017

Has it ever happened that you are trying to measure the distance between two arcs or circles, but when you run the SOLIDWORKS Measure tool the Arc/Circle Measurements option is grayed out? The following image shows a screenshot of the measure window where the first toggle item is grayed out. Don’t worry! There is nothing wrong with your SOLIDWORKS settings or installation. The reason why the Center-to-Center item is grayed out is Point-to-Point option is toggled on. If you deselect it, the Arc/Circle option will light up. Now, let’s see what each one of these tools do.

SOLIDWORKS Measure Tool

Center-to-Center Measure Option Is Grayed Out!!!

Arc/Circle Measurements Tool

The Arc/Circle measurements tool provides four different methods of measuring distance between two circles of arcs: Center-to-Center, Minimum Distance, Maximum Distance, and Custom Distance. The first three options are self explanatory. They measure the distance of the centers of two circles apart from each other or measure the maximum or minimum gap between the circumference of two arcs or circles. In some occasions, one needs to measure the distance from the center of a circle to the closes or furthest point on the circumference of the second circle with respect to the first circle. In these cases, the Custom Distance option becomes very useful by allowing three options: Center, Min, and Max options for either arc/circle. The following image shows how different methods of arc measuring could be selected on the Measure window.

Arc/Circle Measurements Tool Allows Multiple Measuring Capabilities

Point-to-Point Measurements Tool

When Point-to-Point measurement tool is active (the button is toggled on), the distance of two mouse click is measured. Therefore, it matters where exactly the mouse clicks happen. In this case, there is no automatic selection by the software to snap to the center or to the Min/Max spots on the circumference. As a matter of fact, the point-to-point option is design as a general tool, not just for arcs. It measures the distance of any two points you click on the model. No matter where the two points are, on an edge, vertex, or even in the middle of faces. This measurement tool, provides four measuring lines with different colors. The black line shows the minimum distance between the two points in 3D space. Three other lines have colors matching the color of the triad shown at the bottom left corner for X, Y, Z axes.

In the following screenshot, Point-to-Point tool is selected and two points on the edges of two circular edges are selected. In the Measure window, both point-to-point distances and also center-to-center distance are provided. Therefore, Even when Point-to-Point option is selected, if edges of two circles or arcs are selected, the center to center measurement could be done as well.

Point-to-Point Measurement Tool Would Also Show Center to Center Distance

Hints on Using the SOLIDWORKS Measure Tool

Here are a few hints taken from SOLIDWORKS HELP to assist using the Measure tool a bit more efficiently:

  • To clear an item from the current selections, click the item again in the graphics area.
  • To clear all selections, click a blank area in the graphics area.
  • To temporarily turn off the measure function, right-click in the graphics area, and choose Select.
  • To turn the measure function back on, click inside the Measure dialog box.

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Mehdi Rezaei, CSWE

Mehdi is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE) and works near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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