Tips for Faster Dimensioning in SOLIDWORKS
In the CAD world, there are few things that might be more important than correct dimensions. And like all parts in the design process, the quicker the better. SOLIDWORKS has designed a variety of methods that allow for quick and efficient dimensioning.
Let’s first take a look at all of the dimensioning options. They are found on the far left of the Sketch tab on the CommandManager.
For me personally, I by far use the “Smart Dimension” command the most. This will do all of the different dimension types except for ordinate style dimensions. There are also a variety of methods to start a dimension that are quicker than going up to the CommandManager each time new dimensions are needed. Most of these tips come from practices I have observed while teaching:
Tip 1: Unless your standards require Ordinate dimensioning, USE “SMART DIMENSION”!
It does not matter if you are doing a vertical, horizontal, diagonal or path length dimension, it does them all. It’s practically the one stop shop of dimensioning.
Tip 2: Dimension to lines!
If you are dimensioning a line already set to be vertical or horizontal, select the line instead of one of the endpoints. This creates less clicks. If you are wanting a horizontal dimension, and one of the endpoints is attached to a vertical line, use the line instead of the endpoint! Otherwise it will leave the options open to create a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal dimension. The same is true if you are wanting a vertical dimension.
Tip 3: Lock the dimension!
When dimensioning a line that is not set to be vertical or horizontal or when dimensioning two points that are likewise not constrained; as mentioned above it will give you the option of creating a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal dimension. Oftentimes, this can be very finicky and can jump from one to another by moving the mouse very slightly. To lock the dimension into the desired style, move the mouse to a location giving the correct style and right-click. This will allow you to position the dimension and create it.
Tip 4: Don’t use the CommandManager!
There are alternatives to the CommandManager:
- First is my favorite, using mouse gestures. Whether your computer is set to 4 gestures or 8, Smart Dimension is by default a mouse gesture straight up. Simply hold down the right mouse button and slide your mouse up.
- Next is my manager’s favorite, the “S” key. By hitting the “S” on your keyboard, basic commands for Sketches, Parts, Assemblies, and Drawings are available and will appear next to your cursor wherever it might be in the graphics window. You can modify the commands that appear by following the instructions in the blog, SHORTCUT BAR AKA THE “S” KEY.
- Finally, by right-clicking anywhere in the graphics window, you can start the Smart Dimension command or any dimension command.
I hope these tips help to make your design process faster than ever.
CATI Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology