By Damon Tordini
If you frequently design products in SolidWorks that require fastening hardware, chances are you’re already a fan of the Hole Wizard feature, which quickly creates holes of any standard size without the need for sketching. Of course, in many situations where some assembly is required, a more forgiving design is often necessary, which is of course why many products have mounting slots.
While it’s always been possible to create slots in SolidWorks, that task is much easier in 2014 thanks to the new slot options in the Hole Wizard in 2014. Simply pick from plain Slot, Countersunk Slot, or Counterbore Slot and then set all the same standard, type, and size options you’re used to with the hole wizard. Of course, when it comes time to make your part drawings, you’ll get automatic callouts for the slots just as you have come to expect from holes.
Now that you’ll be adding slots to your designs much more quickly, you’ll need to make sure all of your bolts, screws or other components are mated to them properly. Thankfully, SolidWorks 2014 is one step ahead with the addition of the new Slot mate, which automatically centers components in a slot and can even allow them to realistically slide back and forth.
Simply define the mate by picking a cylindrical face on the part to be mated and one sidewall of the slot, and then whether you want the part to be centered, located at a particular distance along the slot, or free to move. There are some limitations with the geometry of the slots- they must have parallel sides and rounded ends- but the slot mate will allow you to select an axis for the mate, meaning you can do non-rounded components like the hex bit above.
Perhaps the next time I go to install a new hard drive, instead of struggling with holes that don’t line up, I’ll be greeted by the familiar face of a slot modeled in SolidWorks.