Variable Pattern: A Smart Way to Vary Features

By Silvio Perez

The Pattern feature inside SOLIDWORKS is one of those go-to tools that we use day in and day out, but we may take it for granted and not appreciate the full capabilities that the tool can offer. One feature in particular is the Variable Pattern feature introduced to SOLIDWORKS in 2015.

The Variable Pattern feature is a great tool to be able to create patterns on features while being able to vary the parameters of that feature. To clarify what I mean, let’s take a look at the scenario below:


What we have is an assembly of a drone and we want to pattern the cut slot while varying the slot size to implement some LEDs to the model.

If we isolate the Body Shell part and navigate to INSERT>PATTERN/MIRROR, we can choose the Variable Pattern feature. In this menu, we have the option to select the feature we want to pattern; in this case, the cut slot feature. In order for us to vary the size of the pattern, we need to select Create Pattern Table.

variable pattern menu

Notice that all the dimensions wake up, allowing us to select them in the Pattern Table window. For this case, I want to vary the distance from the Origin and the actual slot width. Those parameters will pop up in the window, then allowing us to add how many instances we want to vary the feature. If we select Update Preview, you will see how the end result will look.

Starting in 2016, we will have the option to Import and Export this table to Excel, meaning that we can create complex tables based on what we can do in Excel. We can also link parameters to equation based parameters along with negative values to specify a reversed direction.

If you would like to see this tool in action, please refer to my YouTube video found here!  


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