SOLIDWORKS 2018 Gets Touchy-Feely!

Phillip Keane | Comments | October 26, 2017

A Touch Too Much

The most significant addition to this latest release of SOLIDWORKS revolves around the new touch, gesture and pen-based inputs.

Just to clarify, these features are only available to users of Windows 10 who have downloaded the Windows 10 Creators Update. You can download that update at this link.

You can use pen and touch input with compatible, touch-enabled devices to create freehand sketch strokes and convert them into sketch geometry with the tools in the software’s Sketch Ink CommandManager. You can access this function by right-clicking the CommandManager tab and clicking Sketch Ink or View > Toolbars > Sketch Ink.

Clicking the touch icon tool in the Sketch Ink CommandManager will allow you to use a finger to sketch entities in the graphics area. Similarly, if you want to use a pen/stylus on a touchscreen or drawing board, you can click the pen icon, which is also found in the Sketch Ink CommandManager.

As well as being able to draw freehand, you can use these new input methods to draw lines, arcs, polygons, circles and ellipses.

Take a look at the short video below to see a demonstration of how touch sketching works in SOLIDWORKS 2018.

Man in the Mirror

The next new additions we will take a look at are enhancements to the mirror entities sketch functions.

In previous releases of SOLIDWORKS, mirroring entities was only possible around linear entities such as lines or edges. If you recall, if you wanted to create a symmetrical sketch when using an earlier release of the software, you would literally have to sketch a line and use that as your mirror reference line. Then, the selected entities that you wanted mirrored would appear on the opposite side of that line.

Now, you can mirror your entities about a plane or a planar model face too.

Figure 1. Now you can mirror 3D sketches about a plane. (Image courtesy of Hawk Ridge Systems.)

You can do this by clicking the mirror entities icon in the sketch toolbar, or, alternatively, you can click the following menus:

Tools > Sketch Tools > Mirror > Mirror About

And then you can select a reference plane or a planar face in the graphics area.

Of course, this means that you are now able to mirror 3D sketches as well, rather than just 2D sketches.

Take a look at the video below for more information.

I’ll Take Your Brain to Another Dimension…

Pay close attention! The next enhancement to SOLIDWORKS 2018 sketch feature is the addition of Smart Dimension to the Context Toolbar.

In previous releases of SOLIDWORKS, you could only preselect entities and then use the Smart Dimension tool to dimension entities (in fact, the tool on the context menu no longer supports preselection at all). That has changed for this release, and users can now dimension certain entities from the Auto Insert Dimension tool on the Context Toolbar.

The entities supported by the dimensioning tools on the context menu are:

  • Line: Linear dimension
  • Arc: Radial dimension
  • Circle: Diameter dimension
  • Two lines at an angle: Angular dimension between entities
  • Two parallel lines: Linear dimension between entities
  • Arc or circle, and line: Linear dimension between line and centerpoint
  • Point and line: Linear dimension between line and point
  • Arc or circle, and point: Linear dimension between point and centerpoint
  • Arc/Arc or Circle/Circle or a combination thereof: Linear dimension between center points

Smart Dimension, it seems, just got smarter.

Much Undo About Nothing

In previous releases, when working with large sketches, the Automatic Solve Mode and Undo would repeatedly turn off in large sketches. In SOLIDWORKS 2018, this has changed, and now you can enable and disable Automatic Solve Mode and Undo, and modify the threshold limit for sketch entities.

To control Automatic Solve and Undo in Parts and Assemblies, follow these steps:

Click Tools > Options > System Options > Sketch

  • To disable the behavior of automatic turn off of Automatic Solve Mode and Undo, clear Turn off Automatic Solve Mode and Undo when a sketch contains more than this number of sketch entities.
  • To modify the threshold limit, select Turn off Automatic Solve Mode and Undo when a sketch contains more than this number of sketch entities and enter the input value in the input box.

Then click OK.

And to control Automatic Solve, Undo, and No Solve Move in Drawings:

Click Tools > Options > System Options > Drawings > Performance

  • To disable the behavior of automatic turn off of Automatic Solve Mode and Undo, clear Turn off Automatic Solve Mode and Undo and turn on No Solve Move when a drawing view contains more than this number of sketch entities.
  • To modify the threshold limit, select Turn off Automatic Solve Mode and Undo and turn on No Solve Move when a drawing view contains more than this number of sketch entities and enter the input value in the input box.

Then click OK.

Dangerous Curves

SOLIDWORKS 2018 allows users to flip the tangency direction for specific curved sketch entities, such as splines and arcs.

This is very easy to do and can be used for repairing failed tangencies in your sketch.

In the Design Tree, right-click the sketch containing the arc with the tangent failure and click Edit Sketch to open up the sketch in the main window.

In the graphics area, right-click the arc or spline in question, and click Reverse Endpoint Tangent on the shortcut menu. You will notice that the tangency is now reversed and the arc has been flipped.

Click Edit > Rebuild

And you’re done.

Circular Sketch Patterns

And last, but by no means least, in SOLIDWORKS 2018 circular sketch patterns are no longer limited to the number of instances allowed. And the keen-eyed among you will have noticed that I have now run out of puns for the subheadings!

That seems like a good time to bow out, gracefully or otherwise.

Keep an eye out on the main Engineers Rule front page for upcoming news and tutorials for the latest release, SOLIDWORKS 2018!


About the Author

keane 2

Phillip Keane is currently studying his PhD at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His background is in aerospace engineering, and his current studies are focused on the use of 3D-printed components in spaceflight. He previously worked at Rolls-Royce and Airbus Military and served as an intern for Made In Space and the European Southern Observatory.

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