Solidworks: Five Useful Modelling Tools
Solidworks 5 Useful Tools
We use Solidworks daily and often share with each other tools or features that we find particularly useful on for undertaking specific tasks. Below are five from our list of useful features to help cut down on both modelling and loading time when using Solidworks.
The freeze bar is a very handy tool to cut down on rebuild times as well as ‘fixing’ any software bugs with reloading.
To enable the freeze function, go to tools, options, system options. Under the ‘General’ tab, click the tick box next to the freeze bar to enable it.
Click ok and go to your Feature Manager tree. A yellow bar will have appeared at the top of the menu. Simply click, hold and drag the bar down the tree. This ‘freezes’ the features that have been covered by the bar and will appear greyed out. This means that the geometry does not have to rebuild every time you update your model.
If you want the bar at a specific location on your tree, you can right click on your chosen feature in the tree and select ‘freeze’ from the pop out menu. This will freeze everything above and include the selected feature.
To unfreeze either right click on a feature and select ‘unfreeze all features’ or simply click and drag the freeze bar to the desired location.
This is one of the most useful tools on this list. Remembering where all the tools are in Solidworks can be challenging, even if you customize your toolbars. This search bar is a lifesaver when trying and failing to find the feature you want.
Located right top of the Solidworks screen is the search Solidworks help box. Click the arrow to the right of the box to reveal a dropdown and select ‘Commands’. This has now permanently overtaken the search box so that you won’t need to select commands every time you want to search. Now type in the feature that you are looking for and it will appear in a list below.
*Quick tip: To bypass all of that as a shortcut, just press the letter ‘S’ on your keyboard and start typing.
Next click on the correct feature and it will open it for you. Another useful function can be accessed by clicking on the eye next to the command. This will show you where in the menu or toolbar system the feature is located and take your cursor there automatically.
If you use that command a lot, it might be worth dragging it from the displayed location onto your toolbar. Simply click and drag.
This is an ideal feature if you are after a tool to turn a cross section of a surface into a sketch or to create a point for a new sketch to connect to.
Select the plane that intersects the surface you want to sketch on and go to tools, sketch tools, intersection curve.
Select all the desired surfaces that intersect the plane and click tick.
This converts the surface/plane intersection into a fully constrained sketch.
Fit Spline is a brilliant tool for surfacing. It takes existing sketches and converts them into one continuous line. Primary beneficial for working with splines but you can use them on most connected line sketch. Fit Spline takes the dimensioned, controlled geometry and creates a single continuous version over the top. This allows for smooth curved faces when modelling complex curves and prevents pinching and errors occurring. This can be useful if you are trying to boundary surface or sweep a sketch and it just refuses.
To use Fit Spline, go to tools, spline tools, fit spline.
There are a variety of options depending on your requirements but the safest and most robust settings to use are to make sure ‘Delete Geometry’ is unchecked otherwise you will not be able to edit the spline afterwards, and check ‘Constrained’ as this links the fit spline to the geometry below meaning that if the original geometry is amended, the fit spline will automatically update.
This is a must have on your toolbar and a surprising number of Solidworks users have never come across this button. Brilliant for tolerancing a difficult part, Move Face allows you to move a face by a specific distance. It is located within Insert, Face, Move.
There are 3 different types of movement:
Offset: Offsets the surface by a given amount. Using offset will alter features such as fillets.
Translate: This allows you far more option in terms of movement in one go. Forward, backwards, up, down and rotation. It will keep features such as radii the same if selected correctly.
Rotate: Essentially the same as Translate.
There are many useful tools aside from the basic tools that are visible on install, but hopefully there are one or two in this article that will help you out.