Measuring Projected Area of Bodies within SOLIDWORKS Assemblies

Article by Rachel Jackson updated June 3, 2024

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In 2024, SOLIDWORKS came out with an update that allows users to measure the projected surface area of bodies, faces, and components. In previous version of the software, this was restricted to just faces and required additional steps to insert a planar surface. With this improvement it not only saves time, but no longer restricts the user to what project areas they can calculate.

What is Projected Area and why is it necessary?

Let’s first ensure we understand what projected area is and why one might use it to help evaluate their models and assemblies. Projected area is a concept used in various engineering and scientific disciplines to represent the two-dimensional space that an object occupies when viewed from a particular angle. In the context of components in an assembly, the projected area is crucial for calculating the force exerted by external influences such as airflow, pressure, or even electromagnetic fields.

For instance, in aerodynamics, the projected area of a component can determine the drag force it experiences when air moves over it. Similarly, in manufacturing, understanding the projected area helps in estimating material requirements and optimizing design for better efficiency and cost-effectiveness. By analyzing the projected area, engineers can make informed decisions about the placement and orientation of components to achieve the desired performance and functionality of the assembly.

How to use the SOLIDWORKS Measure tool?

In the example we use, we’re going to look at a relatively small assembly, but with the understanding that this can be scaled up to work for larger assemblies. The first step is to select which bodies or components we want to calculate the projected area of. Note: the Measure tool can be found on the Evaluate Tab or by going to Tools > Evaluate > Measure.

  1. Select the component in your assembly, note that you can select several at one time.
  2. In the “Measure” tool, select project on either a plan or face of your choosing.
  3. On the bottom portion of the measure window, you’ll see your calculated projected area.
SOLIDWORKS Measure Tool in the Evaluate Tab

SOLIDWORKS Measure Tool in the Evaluate Tab

What if we need the projected area of the entire assembly?

Although you absolutely could go through and select all individual components. The following instructions will not only save you time with this tool but can assist you in identifying custom searches that can be helpful in many other cases.

  1. Using your “S” key open the select menu and find “Advanced Select.”
  2. For Category select Document Name
  3. For Value select Contains
  4. For Name (in this case) type “sldprt”
  5. At the top, be sure to name your search and SAVE.
"Advance Select" in Select Menu

“Advance Select” in Select Menu

Define Search Criteria "Contains"

Define Search Criteria “Contains”

Back in your assembly, all you need to do is press the “s” key again to access your select menu. Your recently created advanced selection is now available for you to choose. Notice that the entire assembly is now selected. From there, the steps for calculating the projected area can be followed the same as before.

Select the parts[s] in your assembly, note that you can select several at one time

Select the parts[s] in your assembly, note that you can select several at one time

Activate the Measure Tool

Activate the Measure Tool

On the bottom portion of the measure window, you’ll see your calculated projected area

On the bottom portion of the measure window, you’ll see the calculated projected area

Other uses of the Advanced Select

The categories of advanced selections and searches you create within SOLIDWORKS can be exported to use within additional projects. By going back into the Advanced Selection menu under the “Manage Searches” tab allows you to import, export and organize all searches. Within this window you can toggle saves selections on or off for particular use cases.

In this example, we used any component with the document name ending in “sldprt.” However, you could create other component-specific selections if you wanted to always be able to select all of the certain fixtures within large assemblies. The possible categories for searches are extensive which allows you to customize your selections based on project-specific tasks you deal with daily. This is just another powerful tool that SOLIDWORKS has to help you create and evaluate models more efficiently.

Manage Searches Tab

Advanced Component Selection

In Conclusion

Evaluating the projected area of a SOLIDWORKS assembly is not just a technical necessity; it’s a strategic step toward optimizing design and performance. By accurately assessing this parameter, engineers and designers can predict how components will behave under various conditions, ensure compliance with industry standards, and ultimately, refine their creations to meet the exacting demands of today’s innovative landscapes. Whether it’s reducing material waste, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency, or simply ensuring that every part fits perfectly within the whole, the projected area serves as a key metric in the vast toolkit of modern engineering.

Want to learn more SOLIDWORKS Assembly techniques?

If you’re interested in learning more helpful SOLIDWORKS Assembly Tips and Tricks take a SOLIDWORKS Assembly Modeling training course either live online or in a city near you.

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Rachel Jackson

Rachel Jackson is an Applications Solutions Consultant with TriMech