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Combining Modelling Strategies

Combining Modelling Strategies

29 June, 2012

If you have gone through official SolidWorks training courses such as Advanced Part Modelling, Advanced Surfacing and Mold Tools, you would notice that there is a certain structure or approach in the exercises in order to bring out the desired learning outcomes of the courses. Unfortunately, the didactic approach in those training manuals may not be the most productive way of getting the job done when dealing with real-world design problems. This is when you, the learned SolidWorks user, takes charge of the situation by drawing upon the skills introduced in the various courses. Take this example of a designing the mold for a fan: There are several useful pointers that can be learned from studying the process as outlined in the video: 1) Invoke Symmetry It is so much easier to work on one segment that can then be mirrored or pattern, rather than having to repeat the same steps for every instance. Be it circular or planar symmetry, it is so much easier to cut up the model into its basic unit before manipulating it. When dealing with more complex models, utilizing symmetry can cut down on rebuild times tremendously and improve the performance of SolidWorks and, of course, improve your modeling experience. 2) 3D-Sketching on Surfaces One of the strengths of SolidWorks is the ability to sketch directly on curved surfaces to create split lines, and is formally introduced in the Advanced Surfacing course. This is usually done using the Spline on Surface command (as shown in the video) or the Face Curves command. Using sketches on surfaces to create split lines (as opposed to the usual method of projection or intersection of 2D sketches) ensures that the resulting split face will be exactly the way you drew them, eliminating the hassle of having to visualize and tweak those 2D sketches to achieve the desired effect on the 3D surface.

Face Curves on a Panel Surface 

3) Multi-body Part Modeling In some cases, it might be easier to model an assembly as a single part with multiple solid bodies, before splitting or combining those bodies into its components (also known as top-down assembly modeling). This works perfectly for part (or solid bodies) that complement one another, and is especially true for mold design. In the case of the fan, the cavity in the mold was made by subtracting bodies, before the mold was split into its upper and lower halves by splitting using a parting surface. The Split command even allows you to save the resultant bodies as individual part files that are associative, so why not use it elsewhere too? 4) Incorporating Surfacing Tricks A true expert modeller is one who is equally comfortable working with solids and surfaces. At the very least, you need to know how to use the various surface deleting and patching tools on solid bodies to get rid of unwanted surfaces, such as that problematic curved split line that was automatically generated at the fillet at the base of the fin. These tools are indispensable when you work with imported models with translation errors or sliver surfaces.

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