solidworks error iconSince the dawn of time, man has contemplated the frustrating effects of the big read error icon and has come to the conclusion that, yes, veins can indeed pop out of your head whether your sitting down or standing in a defensive crouch in front of your computer.

Computer errors pretty much feel like being hit repeatedly in the face. Errors in a SolidWorks parts and assembly feel like the repeated face hits but with missing the face and popping you square, and very annoyingly, in the ear.

But look here. There are ways to get rid of those errors quickly and dodge a ton of others that come flying at you.

  1. Start at the topsolidworks feature manager with errors
    Since every feature in the FeatureManager build off of previous features, errors up top can cause errors down below. By repairing errors starting at the top you can knock out a lot of the other ones that have affected features below.

    Note: You can avoid some errors by having all the parts in your assemblies reference only ONE other part. This is refer to sometimes as “horizontal modeling” or as “sketch assemblies” when all the parts reference a set of sketches. More about different methodologies here.

  2. Know the Signs
    of teenage depression… and what those red dots and yellow triangles mean. These icons mean that something hasn’t been satisfied, it’s been over-satisfied or that you deleted something you shouldn’t have. FOR SHAME. Here’s what they are:
    – Your part/assembly has an error with a feature or mate. Looks inside the part/assembly to find where the error is and you’ll see the next symbol.
    – This is the feature or mate with the error. Fix this or be scorned by your coworkers.
    – Yep, look inside this part again, because something just ain’t right.
    – A warning that a feature has lost a reference or is over-defined.
  3. Sometimes whether its red or yellow seem totally random. Either way, something is wrong and needs fixed.

  4. Use Suppress
    If you have an error, particularly with a mate, that has a (+) sign in front of it, something is overdefined. Before you go blaming the new guy and deleting everything, do the following. First check to see if there’s a backup of another version. If there’s not, get out the Suppress command and suppress some items (mates, parts, features) that contain errors to see how the model reacts. It could be that there’s just one mate that has thrown everything into a ruckus.
  5. Delete the dangling…
    You start to recognize certain error messages when you’re blazin’ through models everyday. This one holds special meaning to me because, well, it mocks me on a daily basis. When I see it though, I know exactly what I need to do. I go to the sketch and fix the relation that has lost a reference. Get to know what the messages mean and what some common fixes are. I’d even suggest sending a quick reference sheet out to your co-workers to make sure everyone knows how to deal with common ones.
  6. Fix relation first
    Please. Don’t just go deleting sketch geometry. If all else fails, clear all the relations and start re-constraining them. I say this, because those sketches may be referenced by other features. For example, If you delete a sketch line that has errors and redraw it, any feature that is dimensioned off of that is now going to have a danging dimension. So, delete relations, but avoid deleting sketch geometry.

    Additionally, you may choose to use the SketchXpert. When a sketch has an error, there’ll be a warning that shows up on the lower right of the status bar. If you click this, the SketchXpert appears in the Property Manager and gives you the option of having SolidWorks try to solve the problem. Be warned though, if you have a large sketch, this can take a while to run.

  7. 3 Cool Tools
    There’s three tools that will be useful for helping fix errors and find problems when trying to create solids.

    • Repair Sketch (Tools, Sketch Tools) can help repair geometry brought in from AutoCAD.
    • Check Sketch for Feature… (Tools, Sketch Tools) can tell what is preventing a feature from being created.
    • Check… (Tools) can help you find problems with solids and surfaces.

These are a few way of approaching errors. Do you have practices to fix and reduce the amount of errors?


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.