Tactfully using SolidWorks for Surface Modeling

“SolidWorks is fundamentally a solid modeler.”

On the contrary to this popular belief across the industrial design engineer’s fraternity; SolidWorks offers a range of 3D modeling and sketching tools that help the design engineer achieve greater efficiency even for surface modeling - often termed as SolidWorks Surface Modeling.

SolidWorks is a parametric CAD platform which means it has the intelligence to know how the designs should behave when the CAD drafter or modeler changes the dimensions. It, thus, reduces the tedious repetitive work for the modeler and saves time.

An experienced design engineer would, however, argue that there are several ways to achieve ideal surface model. According to them, it can easily be done by finalizing the designs through sketches. Ideally, the designer would start by building a single face of the model, trim it and manipulate according to the design changes as and when needed during design development stage.

A comparison: Solid Modeling & Surface Modeling

There are numerous benefits of 3D solid modeling like great manufacturing as well as geometrical data warehousing like mass, weight, density, center of mass, axis of symmetry etc. It depicts the exact characteristics of the design features and hence the design intent can be communicated easily to the shop floor.

But on the other hand, it has inherent limitations like restrictions in creating the designs with versatility. With SolidWorks, surface modeling can be done with the modeling tools the library available. Consequently, using a combination of solids and surfaces is an efficient way out and get the designing done quickly with greater flexibility and accuracy.

Efficiently modeling surfaces in SolidWorks

Initial Sketch: Like in solid modeling, surface modeling, too, starts with sketches. The designer starts the designing with a rough sketch of an overall shape of the final component or a part. It is then subtracted to the basic shape and then makes a sketch. And during the later stages, options from the commands pane like SolidWorks extrude, SolidWorks revolve, SolidWorks sweep etc. commands of SolidWorks tool pane can be used around the axis of symmetry. All the geometrical dimensions such as radius, height, thickness etc. can be adjusted and modified accordingly.

Another interesting thing about sketches is that they are planar. That is to say that the sketches are simple 2D drawings done in any convenient plane: Top, Front or Side. However, currently, even the industrial designs have become more generic and the shapes cannot be defined in one plane. For such instances, SolidWorks has an unparalleled feature of 3D sketching. (Sketching simultaneously in two planes)

Boundary Surfaces: Next to sketches, second in line, is defining the boundary and loft surfaces that possess edges; but essentially forms completely closed boundaries. A boundary surface is essentially a curve that encloses a single shape - a rectangle, circle etc. A sketch or sometimes multiple sketches are used to describe a closed boundary and doesn’t necessarily have to be in 2D.

On the other hand, the loft surface uses more than two parallel surfaces to construct the required shape. Each sketch represents the shape of the surface that is stretched describing the final surface model’s shape.

Modifying boundary surfaces in SolidWorks Surface Modeling

Once the design engineer has modeled the surface for the necessary object, component or a part, various techniques of modeling can be used to tweak and attain the desired shape. The ideal way is to identify the profile sketch in the surface model, then track the sweep path to get the basic shape which then can be altered using ‘Deform.’

To change the geometry, there are multiple options available, but the easiest way out is to get Curve to Curve option. It is like assigning a command of ‘go from Curve A to Curve B’ to SolidWorks. Select the sketch representing your current geometry as the initial Curve (Curve A) and then click in the target Curves Box (Curve B) and select the sketch that represents the geometry, as wanted. Deform will finally alter the geometry to match the desired right shape.

Another tool available in Curve to Curve is fixing the edges so that they do not deviate from their original position in the space during the ‘Deform’ command application. The CAD design engineer can also define and adjust the accuracy and surfaces that mesh can be knitted well. A complete closed body like a Solid can be made available in the end.

Professional help for SolidWorks Surface modeling

Aforementioned are a few simple steps to generate, finalize and modify basic boundary surfaces within surface modeling. However, when it comes to complex generic industrial designing, multiple surfaces are involved. In fact, when the manufacturer or a manufacturing company receives the model, identifying “what kind of surface do I have?” for a design engineer is a difficult task. It needs to open the file in the native CAD format and the details will be made available upon examination.

An expert SolidWorks surface modeling service provider with years of experience having rich and in-depth knowledge is the go-to place for manufacturers in such a situation. Partnering with such an offshore specialist of surface modeling in SolidWorks can answer all the questions such as ‘What model of surface am I dealing with?’, ‘Provide SolidWorks surfacing tutorial’ in some cases, ‘insights for SolidWorks Sketch picture’ etc.

At Hi-Tech Engineering Services, we specialize in delivering SolidWorks Surface modeling for large and small surfaces and models of even the most complex industrial products.

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