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Deform It - Part 1 - Introduction

Vince Farrell

Hi everybody! Welcome to my 3-part series on a tool to add complex distortions to your solid or surface parts. What’s the name of this you ask? It’s called the Deform tool.

SOLIDWORKS has quite a few tools for creating smoother, or more organic, looking shapes, such as lofting, boundary surfaces and the freeform tool. Deform is another one of these that gives you 3 ways to change the shape of your part: point, curve to curve and surface push. In this series, I’m going to show you all 3, and you can see which one fits you the best. The first article will be about the point method.

This first method is the simplest. I’m going to use a part from an RC car, the gas cap. You can see this part pretty plain, with a flat on the front face and I’d like to give it some character by making it more of a rounded over shape.

RC Car Part

Figure 1: The front of the gas cap.

RC Car Part

Figure 2: The back of the gas cap.

The first thing I’ll do is create a sketch of a point right in the middle of the flat face. That will give the tool a point of reference.

RC Car Part

Figure 3: The sketch point of reference.

Now that I have my point, it’s time to go into the deform tool. It’s located under the Insert->Features menu.

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Figure 4: Where to find the Deform tool.

As you can see in the property manager, here are the 3 ways I can deform this part. Since we are doing the Point method, I’ll make sure that’s selected. SOLIDWORKS is looking for a deform point. This can be a vertex on the part, but I’m using the center of the face, which is why I created the sketch point. We can see from the preview that it’s starting to create a knob coming out, and I can reverse the direction using the toggle, or select another face besides the normal face to change the direction that the part deforms.

Deform tool

Figure 5: Initial point selection.

The next box is the amount that the face will deform in the deform direction, and below that is the shape of the deform region. These two options make the bump higher and bigger. There is also a box in the deform region that allows you to select the bodies you’d like to deform in a multi-body part. I have the height and radius of the bump set to 0.250 inches.

Deform tool

Figure 6: Deform region selections.

We can further refine the deformed shape using the last area, which are the Shape Options.

Deform tool

Figure 7: Shape Options.

If I choose a deform axis instead of leaving it black, the shape will follow the axis instead of coming out normal to the face. Here is what the part will look like with the axis of the pin selected. You can see from the preview that shape becomes more of a hump.

Deform tool

Figure 8: Deform shape with axis selected.

The last things we can play with are the levels of stiffness. Starting from left to right, there is minimum, medium and maximum. With less stiffness, there is less deformation so that minimum will give you the smallest bump while maximum will give the biggest. It’s okay if you forget, the images on each of the buttons will clue you in.

Shape options menu

Figure 9: Stiffness levels from minimum to maximum.

Once we’ve made all the selections, just hit the green check and the gas cap has been deformed! Keep in mind though that both the front and back have been moved.

RC Car Part RC Car Part

Figures 10 and 11: Front and back of deformed gas cap.

I’ll get into more ways of deforming your part in the next 2 articles, so please stay tuned for them. The next article will be on curve to curve option. Thanks for reading!

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