Less Common Ways That Sketches Are Used In SOLIDWORKS

Article by TriMech Solutions, LLC updated April 4, 2023

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Let’s investigate some less-obvious ways how to leverage Sketches in SOLIDWORKS. Sketches are a ubiquitous part of SOLIDWORKS. Obviously, they provide the initial geometry for common 3D features like Extrude, Revolve, Sweep, etc. But their use and utility extend beyond simple feature creation.

Use a Sketch as a depth/direction reference – Select a vertex or endpoint to control the depth, and/or pick a line to control the Direction of an Extrude feature. This will also work with Extruded Cut in an assembly.

Use a Sketch as a depth/direction reference Use a Sketch as a depth/direction reference

Use a Sketch as a Guide Curve – For a Sweep or Loft feature, a sketched Guide Curve controls the shape and size of interpolated profiles as the 3D feature propagates. Similarly, the Boundary features’ Direction 2 can use Sketches as references.  Pro tip: use a Pierce relation to connect the profile(s) and the Guide Curve (Direction 2) sketches.

Use a Sketch as a Loft Centerline

Use a Sketch as a Loft Centerline – As a Loft feature propagates, a sketched Centerline influences the overall shape by controlling the location of intermediate profiles.

Use a Sketch as a Direction reference for Start/End Constraint tangencyUse a Sketch as a Direction reference for Start/End Constraint tangency

Use a Sketch as a Direction reference for Start/End Constraint tangency – Loft features can be influenced by selecting a sketched line as a tangency reference at the beginning or end of the feature. Boundary features also have this option available in both Direction 1 & Direction 2.

Use a Sketch as a Direction reference for a Linear Pattern Use a Sketch as a Direction reference for a Linear Pattern

Use a Sketch as a Direction reference for a Linear Pattern – Sometimes we need to create a Linear Pattern on a part that doesn’t have any helpful linear edges. First create a Sketch with line(s) oriented in the proper direction and then select the sketched line(s) when creating the pattern feature.

Sketched line axis for a Circular Pattern circular axis

Use a Sketched line as an axis for a Circular Pattern – This technique is helpful when there isn’t any topology in the model that easily defines an axis, such as a cylindrical face or circular edge. Simply sketch a line at the proper location and then use it as the axis of revolution for the pattern feature.

 Use a Sketched line as an axis for a Circular Pattern Use a Sketched line as an axis for a Circular Pattern

Use a Sketch to define Reference Geometry (Planes, Axis, Point) – We often need to create intermediate construction geometry as a reference for locating a 3D Reference feature. Sketches allow you to locate Reference Planes, Axes, and Points precisely where needed.

Use a Sketch to define Reference Geometry for SOLIDWORKSUse a Sketch to define Reference Geometry

We’ve looked at eight less common uses for Sketches in SOLIDWORKS.  Although we’ve focused on part modeling, this is not an exhaustive list and there are many other scenarios where Sketches can be useful. Sketches also have extended utility in Assemblies and Drawings. How do you use Sketches in SOLIDWORKS?

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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.