SOLIDWORKS Design Intent: what is it, and why should I care?

Article by John Lee, CSWE updated July 10, 2019


Ever hear of the term “design intent” and wonder what it means, or how it pertains to design?

In SOLIDWORKS, we refer to design intent as your plan as to how the model should behave when it is changed.

This really begs for a demonstration, so here it is!  Take these four simple parts, for example.

Four different design intents

They are geometrically identical.  But imagine if they were all resized from the original 50mm length to some new length.  Some of these parts would then no longer be geometrically identical, since the holes would relocate differently for some of the parts.  Now, if this were your design, ask yourself where you really want the new hole locations to be, and then ensure that your dimensioning scheme supports the correct hole locations for both the original 50mm length and the new length.  If it does, then that will be the correct design intent!  Eureka!  🙂

You want to take a moment to consider your design intent before charging into the actual modeling.  It will most likely pay off, down the road.  Here at Javelin, we introduce and reinforce this concept in our SOLIDWORKS Essentials class, as it serves our students well in their design tasks.

Once you set up your design intent, you can always change it later.

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John Lee, CSWE

John Lee is inherently lazy in that he prefers to work smarter - not harder. A CSWE with fifteen years of experience using SOLIDWORKS and a background in mechanical design, John has used SOLIDWORKS in various industries requiring design for injection molding, sheet metal, weldments and structural steel.