SOLIDWORKS, 3D CAD, Tech Tips

Sketching Techniques Every Engineer Should Know in SOLIDWORKS

By Ralph Gillis on July 30, 2021

Nothing is more frustrating to a design engineer than trying to figure out how to make it easier to achieve something. In this article, we’ll cover five sketching tips used by designers that you can incorporate into your workflow so you can optimize your designing process and significantly reduce time when working in SOLIDWORKS. We’ll be taking a look at Quick Relations, Symmetry Relations, Virtual Sharps, dimensioning to circles, arcs and diameters, and a new feature added in 2020 called Silhouette Entities. Let’s take a look.

Quick Relations

SOLIDWORKS Quick RelationsQuick Relations allows you to select geometry on a sketch and quickly add relations on the fly. By selecting a common endpoint between two lines, you can easily add a relation to your sketch. The key takeaway is that you can quickly do this by clicking on the geometry to add relations.

Symmetry Relations

SOLIDWORKS Symmetry RelationsYou can apply symmetry between two lines by adding a relation between those two lines and a construction line. To do that, Control-Select the two lines and also clicking on the construction line as part of your selection. Next, you can add a symmetric relation. This makes it easy to adjust your design by dragging the line back and forth and both lines stay symmetrical to the construction line.

Virtual Sharps

virtual-sharpYou can create virtual sharps of two sketch entities even when the actual intersection no longer exists. By selecting two lines where you want to apply a virtual sharp and activating the “point” command in the context toolbar, a virtual sharp is quickly added.

Dimension to Circles, Arcs and Diameters

dimension-circles-arcs-diametersYou can add dimensions to circles, arcs and diameters by selecting a line and also selecting the centerline. By moving your cursor below the centerline, you’ll notice that it will display the diameter versus the radius. Once you enter the first one, you can quickly see how you can add dimensions with every new line that you select. When you add a dimension to your circles, by default it’s always going to measure the center of those arcs. But, if you’re trying to go from the tangency points, you can do that by holding the Shift key and clicking on the outer sides of the two circles. The Shift key allows for that quick option to dimension inside or outside of your arcs.

Additionally, after manually adding a dimension to an arc and selecting the Leaders tab in the left panel, you have the option to adjust the Arc Condition and control where the dimension is on your sketch when you’re dimensioning to circles and arcs.

Silhouette Entities

SOLIDWORKS Silhouette Entities

This new feature introduced in 2020 allows you to project the silhouette, or outline, of a part in an assembly onto a parallel sketch plane. Found in the Tools menu under Sketching Tools. This feature works very similarly to Convert Entities and is easy to use. You can access this feature from the Tools Menu > Sketch Tools > Silhouette Entities. Once the tool is active, there will be a selection box for bodies as well as an option for external silhouettes. It’s an extremely powerful addition to the SOLIDWORKS toolset which enables you to leverage your geometry in different ways that weren’t possible in the past.

To get a closer look at these time-saving techniques, watch the video to see how you can optimize your designing process when working in SOLIDWORKS.

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