By Cory Holden
Imagine this; you are working on that next intricate build using surfacing or sweeps inside SOLIDWORKS and all of the sudden you need that very tough 3D sketch that follows and maps your profile perfectly. How are you going to get that perfect line twisting through complex 3D space? Well your first thought might be to use a 3D sketch, but I have a different feature better suited for this application, it is possible to get exactly the curvy twisting line you need using project curve. In this article I would like to run through the project curve feature in SOLIDWORKS and the basics on how to use it to complete or improve your designs.
For this example I was attempting to build the frame of a car, and the top edge of the frame that runs the outside length of the car had complex geometry for my sweep. Again, I could have attempted to use 3D spines and get the curvature that I desired, but instead I chose to use project curve, starting off with two simple sketches that represented the profiles of my car. One of the sketches represents the front view of the car, while the other sketch represents the right view of the car or the side profile. The sketches are basic profiles based on my interpretation of what this car frame should look like. I do have the option inside of SOLIDWORKS, where if I had pictures of a real frame of a specific car I was working on, I could use those pictures with the sketch picture command to get a very accurate profile sketch. The sketch picture would have simply allowed me to trace the outer profiles of a specific car I was working on accurately.
With my two sketches drawn and lined up I continued on to use the project curve command. Upon selecting this command I have two choices, I can either do a “sketch on sketch” projected curve or a “sketch on faces” projected curve. The sketch on sketch option allows me to simply select my two sketch profiles and it will automatically create for me a 3D path where the two sketches meet. This will of course do a full automation of the process allowing SOLIDWORKS to draw the entire frame for you based on every section of both of those two sketches (This method is represented in series by the three pictures above). If you want a more specific and limited range of this feature then you would want to use the sketch on faces option (As pictured by the two pictures below). This option will limit the projected curve to specific areas which are user selected so this can give you more control over the profile that is created. However, to use this option you cannot use two sketch profiles like before, now you have to use one sketch and the other sketch would need to be converted to a feature with faces. So, you could simply extrude the side profile like I did in this example in order to give you faces to select and work on. For the sketch faces option I will need to select my sketch to project and then the specific faces that I want it to be limited to projecting on. As you can see from my final picture of the car frame I only chose the top faces in order to get the path for the top of my frame. This method of selecting faces helps limit the scope and focus in on where you would like SOLIDWORKS to place the feature for you. Finally, with that I have a perfect path for my sweep or I am all set up to apply a weldments profile to my frame.
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If you'd like to read a blog on a similar article Using Intersection Curve, click here.
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