References for Linear Feature Patterns in SOLIDWORKS

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated January 13, 2023


Using Feature Patterns is a great way to impose and reflect the design intent of identical part geometry. Our designs often have numerous instances of features that are identical and laid out in a regular way. Bolt hole patterns, heat sink fins, tool serrations, etc. are good examples of these kinds of features. SOLIDWORKS Feature Patterns duplicate the geometry of the selected seed features and create copies that are located or spaced in a logical manner. Of course, any modifications to the seed features propagate to the copied instances.

One of the requirements of the Linear Pattern tool is selecting items to define the direction(s) that the pattern will develop. These are the references the tool needs to create copied instances. The reference must possess or imply a single linear direction and once established, a direction arrow appears in the user interface, and you can reverse the pattern direction if desired.

solidworks feature patterns: Linear pattern

Linear pattern

SOLIDWORKS allows you to select obvious and not-so-obvious items in your model to establish the required direction reference.  Here are eight ways you can specify Pattern Direction in the Linear Pattern Tool. Pay attention to the 3D direction arrow to understand the result:

Linear Edge – along edge direction

Linear pattern tool: linear edge

Linear edge

Plane or Planar Face – normal to plane

linear pattern tool: plane or planar face

Plane or planar face

Linear Dimension – along dimension

linear dimension

Linear dimension

Circular Edge – normal to plane defined by edge

linear pattern tool: circular edge

Circular edge

Cylindrical/Conical Face – along natural axis

cylindrical/conical face

Cylindrical/conical face

Sketched Line – along line

sketched line

Sketched line

Axis/Temporary Axis – along axis

axis temporary axis

Axis/temporary axis

Coordinate System*

Coordinate system

Coordinate system

*Coordinate System deserves special mention because of how flexible and robust it is as a direction reference. The Coordinate System icon in the UI has different elements and where you select on the Coordinate System icon determines the type of reference established:

coordinate system

Coordinate system

Some of these reference selections translate well when working with other types of SOLIDWORKS feature patterns, and you are encouraged to experiment with them. For example, you can select an angular dimension in the Circular Pattern tool to establish the axis of revolution.  Finally, try using these selections when setting the direction reference for Component Patterns when working in an Assembly.

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TriMech Solutions, LLC

TriMech provides thousands of engineering teams with 3D design and rapid prototyping solutions that work hand-in-hand, from sketch to manufacturing. Javelin became a subsidiary of TriMech Solutions LLC in 2021.