How to Present the MBD Data of a Shaft

In a previous article, “How to Present the MBD Data of a Gear Box Assembly,” we explained the importance of presenting MBD data in a consumable, actionable and professional way using an assembly example. In this article, we will share several practical ways to present MBD data using a shaft part example.

Shafts are typically long and narrow as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. A typical shaft.

To present a shaft in its entirety while saving on display space—either on computer screens or in a printed format—we often need to break certain long segments and abstain from displaying repetitive portions. Of course, the dimension and tolerance values shouldn’t change, but their placements may need to adjust automatically to stay attached to the correct features or geometries. In 2D drawings, this arrangement is called “broken views” or “interrupted views.” SOLIDWORKS MBD provides a similar presentation in 3D called Model Break View as shown in Figure 2. Please note that the 130-mm shaft length is attached to two end faces that are highlighted in Figure 1. It correctly remains so in Figure 2.

Figure 2. A Model Break View.

Figure 3 illustrates the Model Break View feature in detail. You can select the break location, orientation and length on its property manager on the left side. You can also drag the bidirectional arrows in the graphics area, such as the one on the red plane in Figure 3, to make adjustments directly on the model. Then these instructions are followed to generate a break configuration automatically.

Figure 3. Create a Model Break View.

In one step further, you can also choose the break styles as shown in Figure 4. I chose the Pipe Break (saddled shape) style in Figures 2 and 3.

Figure 4. Choose break styles and properties.

Model Break Views are created as SOLIDWORKS configurations, so they are accessible on the configuration manager. However, to achieve the result shown in Figure 2, you also need to fine-tune the callout visibilities, model orientations and display scales. With all the tuning, it’s always a good idea to capture the final display in a 3D View such as the highlighted Model Break View A shown at the bottom of Figure 2. This comprehensive visual bookmark allows you to quickly retrieve a presentation later, rather than having to manually set up everything again.

Around the shaft shoulder at the top of Figure 1, you may have noticed several small gray reference dimensions conveying the shoulder heights and relief groove depths. In a previous article, “Dimension to Silhouette Edges Using SOLIDWORKS MBD,” we elaborated on how to define these reference dimensions. In this article, let’s create a detailed view to make these dimensions more evident and consumable as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. A detailed view of the shoulder heights and relief groove depths.

First of all, since these callouts are attached to the silhouette edges, the outline display styles may illustrate these conceptual edges better. Figure 6 shows a display style with hidden lines removed on the heads-up display bar.

Figure 6. An outline display style with hidden lines removed.

Now let’s zoom into this shaft shoulder to show this area in a larger scale. An across-the-board document font and arrow size may look too big in a zoomed-in view as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. The callouts and arrows look too big in a detailed view.

One way to address this issue is to choose a local font size for the selected callouts as shown in Figure 8. First, hold down the Ctrl key and click on these local callouts to select them all together. Then on the property manager on the left side, click on the Other tab and uncheck the box “Use document font” to override the selection with a local font size. Finally, click on the Font button to choose a smaller size such as 6 points.

Figure 8. Select a local font size for a detailed view.

Speaking of the document font, you can adjust a wide variety of settings at the document level depending on the specific models and requirements. Figure 9 shows a subcategory of Dimensions under Document Properties, where you can modify settings such as the dimension arrow size, dual dimension display, fractional display and so on. One useful option to help obtain a proper arrow display like the one shown in Figure 5 is to check the box “Scale with dimension height,” which is highlighted in a green box in Figure 9. This option automatically picks a proper arrow display size according to the dimension size selected in Figure 8.

Figure 9. Automatically scale arrow display sizes with dimension heights.

Last, and best of all, you can capture all the above display modifications in a 3D View such as the view named “Shoulder heights and groove depths” shown at the bottom of Figure 5.

Now let’s organize the key use cases and tools shared in this article in Table 1. To learn more about how the software can help you with your MBD implementations, please visit its product page.

Table 1. Shaft MBD presentation use cases and tools.

Use Cases Tools
Present a shaft in its entirety while saving on display space, either on computer screens or in a printed format Model Break View
Illustrate silhouette edges to which dimensions are attached Outline display styles
Display callout fonts proportionally to view scales Local font sizes for multiple selected callouts
Display arrow sizes based on dimension sizes Automatically scale arrow sizes with dimension heights
Capture and retrieve specific display setting combinations in visual bookmarks and form design storylines 3D View

About the Author

Oboe Wu is a SOLIDWORKS MBD product manager with 20 years of experience in engineering and software. He is an advocate of model-based enterprise (MBE) and smart manufacturing.  

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