Matt Lombard always has interesting insight into the nature of design and engineering. It’s exactly one his post that started me thinking again about the future of parametric design. Maybe it’s a cliche and tiring question that everyone has asked, but check this out…


Web of Constraint
Right now something is parametric in a model because one thing is associated to another. What if this were more like the connective tissue of between muscle and skin though? Now you have an area or web of constraint. Not like nurbs or NSS, more like a spatially and dimensionally defined envelope of constrainability. I’m not talking about playing with a bunch of points or handles, but capturing an area and constraining things to each other within this area and even overlapping the areas.

Make this line a curve
One of the most annoying things in traditional parametric, sketch-driven, history-based design, is when something that is flat needs to be changed to something that is curved. Doing it requires blowing away all the parametric relations defined by that single line or curve, or giving the curve such a large radius that it looks straight, but then forget about sketching on it. I’m honestly not sure on the best way to do this. Maybe something like an external volume that has rays that intersect the model and ‘sense’ changes in geometry and update the other items in context accordingly while still being defined by a process and controlled by dimensions.


For the time being
Within the context of feature-based modeling, the best solution is going to be using top down design and closed contour conversion of a carefully chosen entity so you can capture some of the possibilities of change. What does that mean? Putting a lot forethought into your design and still not catching everything that could change but being more ready for it. I’m working on a tutorial to show this and will post it soon.

What would you change in SolidWorks to make it easier to control the way things relate to each other?


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.