Spend much time with weldment designs in SOLIDWORKS and you will find yourself making quite a few 3D sketches or offsetting planes to repeat sketches spaced out a certain distance. Let’s take a side table for example, I want it to make it from tubing and include a shelf in the middle. Here is what I am after, stripped down to just the frame.
Essentially what I need is the footprint of the table repeated 3 times, one for the base, again for the shelf, and a third time for the top. I then need the four vertical legs connecting them all. There are a few ways I can achieve this. The most direct would be single 3D sketch, but that is going to get messy with dimensions and relationships. I could do it with three 2D sketches and a 3D sketch for the legs. I could even do it with a 2D sketch for the front and back, plus two more for the top and shelf. Any one of these would work, however, I prefer the option of a single sketch and a Grid System.
Starting with a single sketch on the top plane, I draw out the footprint of what my frame should look like. It’s a 12”x16” rectangle.
Next comes the Grid System, I find the command using the search bar, but you can also find it under Insert > Reference Geometry > Grid System. The interface is similar to a pattern, you have a number of instances and the spacing. I want 3 instances, counting the original sketch, spaced 15 inches apart.
Since I want the legs to each be a single piece, I want to make sure that the 3DSketch Split Lines is unchecked. This option will split the lines that connect each level into individual segments, with it off they will be continuous from the first level to the last. Click the green checkmark to see the results.
By default you won’t see the connecting lines, that 3D sketch is hidden. Just show it from the tree by expanding the Grid System, right clicking on the 3DSketch and choosing Show.
Now we have the centerlines for our weldment frame in 2 easy steps. No excessive sketch creation or messy 3D sketches.
Now I can apply tubes to the sketch using my Weldments > Structural Member command. I used Group 1 for the top four tubes, Group 2 for the legs, and Group 3 for the shelf. The result is a frame for my side table that is ready to be built.
The Grid System command is extremely useful for weldment frames such as this. I have applied it to book shelves, tables, scaffolding and more. What will you think up to use this simple yet powerful trick?