SOLIDWORKS, 3D CAD, Tech Tips

The Hidden Treasure Trove of Sketching Tools

By Laura Weismantel on May 21, 2018

We all have our favorites in the diverse arsenal of SOLIDWORKS sketching tools. However, for most, those favorites all shine on the CommandManager, taking the spotlight, right at the top of our screen. This spot is well deserved by most of the icons that are found here, but when it comes to sketching tools in SOLIDWORKS, there is more than meets the eye. Many powerful tools made for the sketching environment are under-utilized. In this blog, we dive into some of these tools and how they work. 

Intersection Curve

Intersection Curve Sketching Tool in SOLIDWORKSThis tool comes in handy time and time again in a wide variety of applications. For example, the Convert Entities command projects model geometry onto your sketch. The Intersection curve calculates 2D sketch geometry where any 3D model face pierces through the sketch plane. Simply select the faces for intersecting and you are good to go.

*Fun fact: this command is hiding in plain sight in your CommandManager, right under the Convert Entities icon!

Split Entities

This is a command commonly needed for breaking sketch geometry into separate entities to better define profiles for Loft and Boundary commands. It can also be useful just to add some extra control points to the geometry that you’re splitting up, or to act as an intermediary step in a trimming operation. When extruded, these types of sketches generate edges (i.e. separate faces) where the geometry is split, even if the adjacent faces are curvature continuous.

Segment Sketching Tool in SOLIDWORKSSegment

Similar to Split Entities is the Segment tool, which places sketch points evenly along a sketch entity (line, arc or spline). It also provides the option to evenly split the original entity into a desired number of equal length pieces.

Face Curves

Face Curves Sketching Tool in SOLIDWORKSThis is a secret weapon for SOLIDWORKS users who want to learn about the makeup of a complex surface. All surfaces in SOLIDWORKS are made up of u-curves and v-curves that are woven together to create a tapestry that makes up each face. Face curves are exactly what they sound like. They trace the u- and v-curves over the face, so it makes for a nice visual tool to learn about the flow of a complex surface and further understand errors that may occur on import or feature generation.

Dynamic Mirror

This hidden gem is a different way to approach mirroring sketch geometry. It is a toggle-on/toggle-off setting that enables a mirroring mode. The user selects geometry to act as the line of symmetry, and then everything they draw on one side of the line will also be automatically drawn on the opposite side.

Sketch Settings

This category is actually an entirely separate menu found in the SOLIDWORKS Tools drop-down. It’s another one of those menus that a lot of folks just don’t know about, so they don’t take advantage of the power that resides within.

Sketch Settings for Sketching Tool in SOLIDWORKSMany of these settings are great for complicated sketches that demonstrate poor performance due to a large number of entities and relations. The No Solve Move and Detach Segment on Drag can be used to disconnect segments from neighboring entities with merged endpoints. The ability to easily disable snapping or automatic relations can be extremely helpful to avoid applying unintended restrictions to your geometry on creation.

Command and Settings for Sketching Tool in SOLIDWORKSWhat makes these commands and settings even more useful is that you can personalize your mouse and keyboard shortcuts to include them. They can also be added directly to your Command Manager for one-click easy enabling and disabling. If you take advantage of the powerful customization capabilities of the SOLIDWORKS user interface, you will unbury all of SOLIDWORKS’ hidden sketching treasures!

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