By Joe McDiarmid
Creating Threads as a true Feature in SOLIDWORKS prior to 2016 was something of a litmus test – if you could accomplish this in a reasonable amount of time with a few sketches and didn’t manage to ruin your model, you could probably be hired at any company using SOLIDWORKS and hit the ground running. While not particularly difficult to create, it did require someone to be pretty comfortable visualizing what they wanted and to know enough about SOLIDWORKS tools and features to combine a few tools to get the final result; in other words, you couldn’t “Costanza” that feature, and it is a favorite amongst engineering professors for final exams in CAD courses.
Unfortunately, or perhaps thankfully for some, the skill of manually creating thread features may soon be on its way to becoming an esoteric CAD art-form known only to a select few, echoing the fate of the elusive hand-drafters that still lurk in forgotten cubicles in various industries. Why, might you ask? Well SOLIDWORKS quietly added a new tool to the software for 2016, called the Thread tool.
Intrigued? Imagine Hole Wizard and Weldments got friendly at a party and a few service packs later Thread tool came out. In a nutshell, you can automatically create full Feature threads from any of the included standards in Metric and Imperial, cut or extruded, internal or external, left or right handed AND you can add your own custom thread types all through an easy to use property manager. Like Hole Wizard, you choose your Thread type and size, any modifying parameters, and then use simple face and edge reference clicks to quickly create your feature without any need for underlying sketches, reference planes, or special curves. Even better, like Weldments you can add your own custom thread profiles by creating configured sketches in exactly the same manner you would create custom weldment profiles and adding them to the Thread profile library folder. This way, you’re only limited by your imagination and what you can sketch in terms of what kinds of thread you can create using the new 2016 Thread tool.
Using the Thread tool is as simple as first adding it to your Feature tab on the Command Manager using the Customize menu, and then clicking to activate it, as shown in the first image.
Once the property manager opens on the left, choose a circular edge to start your thread, and an End Condition with appropriate reference selections to finish it. In the example in image 2, we used an “Up to Selection” End Condition and chose the face indicated by the lower arrow. The boxed area of the property manager in image 2 is where you set the Type, Size, and other modifying characteristics of the thread itself. Here, you can locate the profile like a weldment, override the standard pitch and/or diameter of the library thread profile, and even reverse the direction of the thread.
Once you’ve set the property manager to your liking, clicking the green check mark in the upper right of the property manager will confirm the selections and create the full featured thread, as shown in image 3. Now you can easily create full feature threads on any part in just a few clicks, and even create your own custom profiles. Before anyone gets too excited though, there are two small limitations. The Thread tool does NOT yet support the creation of tapered or pipe style threads, so the “old fashioned” ways of creating those thread features still apply.
To find out more tips and tricks on SOLIDWORKS 2016, check out our weekly webinars called Webinar Wednesday.