Using Other Sketch Tools in soliworks

SolidWorks has a lot of functionality that overlaps between multiple topics. The following tools could appear in other sections of the book, but I include them here because they will help you work with and control 2D sketches in SolidWorks. Almost everybody who opens the SolidWorks software at one time or another has to use a sketch, so these tools could be applied by a wide swath of users.


As the name suggests, RapidSketch is meant to help you rapidly create a number of sketches on different planes. As you move a sketch cursor over flat faces of a model, the faces highlight to indicate that you can start a new sketch there.

The workflow with this tool is that you start in one sketch, with an active sketch tool, move the cursor over another plane or face without exiting the first sketch, and start sketching the entity on the new plane.

The only real downside of using RapidSketch is that if you sketch on a particular plane or face where other planes or faces might be visible in the background, SolidWorks might interpret certain selections as trying to change sketch planes. To get back to a previous sketch, deactivate the current sketch tool (for example, by pressing Esc) and double-click the previous sketch you want to return to. To move to a later sketch, use the normal sketch exiting techniques.

RapidSketch is a rarely used function in SolidWorks. It has been available for several releases now, but it has not caught on with users. I have yet to see a compelling case for its use.


You can add Sensors in the SolidWorks FeatureManager for parts and assemblies by right-clicking the Sensors folder and selecting Add Sensor. You can find the Sensors folder at the top of the FeatureManager. If you cannot find the Sensors folder, choose Tools ➪ Options ➪ FeatureManager and make sure the Sensor folder is set to Show.

You are not limited to using sensors only when working with sketches; you can use them outside of sketches in parts and assemblies to warn you when various types of parameters meet various types of criteria.

Figure 6.14 shows the Sensor PropertyManager. You can create sensors for measurements, simulation data, or mass properties. The reason I have included Sensors in this chapter is the measurement options, which enable you to select a dimension and set a range of values or criteria for which you want to be notified. The dimension can be a driving (black) sketch dimension, a driven (gray) dimension on a sketch, or even a driven dimension placed directly on solid geometry.

The third image shows what happens when a sensor finds a condition that you asked it to notify you about.

Using-Sketch-Pictures-in-Solidworks-4        Using-Sketch-Pictures-in-Solidworks-5        Using-Sketch-Pictures-in-Solidworks-6

FIGURE 6.14 The Sensor PropertyManager

In addition to turning Sensor alarms on or off, you can also suppress Sensors when they are no longer needed or to improve performance.

Sensors are a great way to keep an eye on particular values, such as wall thickness or clearance between parts. You can use a Sensor to monitor any value you want to monitor but don’t drive directly.

Metadata for sketches

Metadata in SolidWorks is non-geometrical text information. Metadata is particularly helpful as keywords in searches as well as in Product Data Management (PDM) applications. If you don’t use metadata within your CAD documents, it can be easy to forget that it is there at all.

  • The sources for storing metadata in SolidWorks files are
  • Sketch and feature names
  • Sketch and feature comments (access comments via the RMB menu)
  • Custom Properties l Design Binder documents
  • Tags for features (located on Status Bar in the lower-right corner)

Metadata searches can be particularly useful in large assemblies or parts with long lists of features that you need to access for various reasons. You can conduct searches for metadata through the FeatureManager Filter at the top of the FeatureManager. The Advanced Search function in assemblies can also search metadata sources. SolidWorks Explorer is a good first-level data management solution that can search, display, and edit metadata and previews. Windows Explorer can also search properties and tags.

Construction geometry

In SolidWorks, the only construction geometry that can be created directly is the construction line. All other sketch entities can be converted to construction geometry by selecting the Construction Geometry option within the sketch entity’s PropertyManager or by using the Construction Geometry toggle toolbar button.

SolidWorks terminology is inconsistent, because it sometimes refers to construction lines as centerlines. The two are really the same thing. Centerlines are used for revolved sketches and mirroring, but there is no difference between a centerline and a construction line in SolidWorks.

Construction geometry is useful for many different types of situations. I use it frequently for reference sketch data. You can make sketch relations to construction geometry, and can use it for layout sketches or many other purposes limited mainly by your needs and imagination.

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