Ok, you’re in a room of SolidWorks experts and starting to sweat. You feel like bustin’ out you modely moves, but wonder if they’re good enough. You start to twitch a little and get into the groove, but only the cat gnawing it’s paw in the corner seems to notice you shakin’ like Andr√© 3000.

Fact is, there’s almost always someone that can shake it better… so to speak. This, however, doesn’t mean you can’t eventually take over the world with your 3D modeling mojo.

Best thing about it, you can get better fast… in 5 minutes flat from what I’ve seen. Let the beat drop.

Avoid Ugly Modeling Moves
This is what it comes down to. Too simple you say? Yes, it actually is.

Not only can you improve your modeling in 5 minutes, you can also tell what someone’s modeling skills are in about 5 minutes. Actually, you can tell in a lot less time, because there’s one thing in SolidWorks that reveals nearly every bad practice. Sketches. You can see who’s good and who’s not so good just by looking at their sketches.

Along with that, it’s the one single thing that can affect the most drastic change in how someone understands modeling and specifically SolidWorks.

Sketched-based mayhem
With SolidWorks being the wonderful sketched-based modeling system you enjoy each day, there’s some expertise needed in the sketch environment, but get this… it doesn’t take much at all. In fact, you’ve probably learned a lot of what it takes in engineering classes you hardly paid attention to and your common sense approaches to building and breaking things.

Take a look at this example

This was an actual simple part someone did. At first glance you might not notice anything much about it. It’s fully-defined, so what? right? Good practice goes a little deeper than just locking down every sketch line though. When you look at the AFTER version, you’ll notice a lot fewer dimensions. Here are the changes I discussed with the designer that helped him improve his sketching and his part modeling in 5 minutes flat.

Combine common dimensions
Where thickness or hole size are the same, add an Equal relation so they update together.

Add radii (fillets) last
First get the general shape laid out and dimensioned. You may decide to add them as features after sketching and extruding.

Be aware of relations
Some are automatically added. This helps define your geometry. Add or delete to change your sketch.

Add relations first
Doing this becomes more familiar as you model. It will help avoid geometry flying off.

Test your sketch
Wiggle those lines around and see how your relations work.

The only other things I would add to this iare:

  • Use symmetrical relations
  • Put your origin at a mounting location (or centerpoint)
  • Use construction lines to help define your sketch

There. I assure you. If you SolidWorks moves are a little rusty or you just want to improve your quality, Take 5 minutes and do a quick exercise with some old sketches or some new ones. Turn up the volume, start tapping that foot. You got the moves now, brotha ans sista.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, 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.