Use Layers to Group SOLIDWORKS Dimensions for easy editing between standards

Article by Ben Crisostomo, CSWE updated April 15, 2020


You may have come across this when working with SOLIDWORKS drawings, where certain dimensions are measured using different units. It would be fine do edit the dimension by overriding the units, but there are several of them and it would be quite tedious to go over that process if you have a lot of them. To get around that, we will employ the use of layers to group dimensions for easy editing between standards.

Drawing with several unit standards

In the example above of a barrel bridge used in automatic watches, the drawing is working with several dimension standards; microns, millimeters (default sheet format), tolerances, and imperial (hidden). In order to manage this chaotic group of dimensions, layers are used to separate the units by type, which allows us to quickly edit a group when needed. We will go over the method used to set this up for the drawing, and how to quickly make changes.

Creating SOLIDWORKS Layers

Layers can be used to group items in drawings, and hide them which is what we will be using to edit groups of units quickly. To show the layers tab go to Tools > Customize… > Toolbars TAB and check Layer. From there, select the Layer Properties button and the Layers dialogue window will pop up as seen in the image below.

Layer Properties

As you can see, layers were created and named based on what kind of dimension they will cover. When adding dimensions, it is recommended that you place them based on the layer that they are in, then switch layers using the dropdown menu and add the next group and so on.

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At this point, all the dimensions are on the same standard. to change the dimensions, hide all the layers that you do not want to change. The remaining dimensions will be visible in the drawing space, and as all other layers are off, using the mouse to group select will only select the desired dimensions. From there, changing the unit type can be done from the Property Manager as seen below.

Editing Dimension Units by Layer

Repeat the process for the other layers and your drawing is ready. One item to note is that you will need to keep track of one-off dimensions that may have certain special unit configurations. This can be done by adding a separate layer for one-offs.

The use of layers to group dimensions for easy editing between standards is a great way of saving time and resources, allowing the designer to consolidate drawings into one sheet. Editing drawing can be a time-consuming task, hopefully using layers can save some of that redundancy for you moving forward.

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Ben Crisostomo

Ben is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office