Reference Geometry includes reference planes, axes, coordinate systems, and points. In this blog, we will discuss the many ways of creating and defining Reference Planes if you need to use planes other than the default Top, Right, and Front Planes.
The Reference Geometry command lives on the Features toolbar, but you can also access it from Insert > Reference Geometry.
When the Reference Plane PropertyManager comes up, you will notice that there is a lot of freedom for defining references and constraints and little instruction on the ways you can create planes. The message will change from a yellow “Select references and constraints” (meaning you do not have enough references yet) to a green “Fully Defined” (when you are able to create a plane). The message can also turn red if “Current combination of references and constraints are not valid”.
As you start selecting edges, faces, planes, or points as References, more options will appear based on your choices.
These are the various ways you can define a reference plane and we will look at an example of each one:
- Offset Distance
- Coincident with 3 vertices
- Coincident with a line and a vertex
- Tangent and Parallel
- Tangent and Perpendicular
- Mid Plane
- Perpendicular at a Point
- Create a plane parallel to the screen
To create an Offset Plane, select a planar face or plane that you want to offset from and specify the offset distance. Select the Flip offset button if you need the plane to be created in the opposite direction. You can also increase the number of planes to create equally spaced from the first reference to easily create multiple planes at once. In this scenario, I left the number of planes as 1. Click the green check mark to create your plane.
Coincident with 3 Vertices
To create a Coincident Reference Plane, you need to select 3 vertices to fully define the new plane. Once three vertices and the Coincident buttons are selected, the Fully Defined message will appear in green and you can choose the green check mark to create the plane coincident to all 3 selected vertices.
Coincident with a Line and a Vertex
Similarly, you can also create a Coincident Reference Plane by selecting a line or edge and a vertex. In this example, the reference plane will be created perpendicular to the pink edge and coincident to the purple vertex.
To create an Angled Plane, you need to select a planar face or plane and an edge or axis to fully define the reference plane. Be sure to choose the Angle button on the planar face reference to be able to specify the degrees at which you want the plane to be created and to have the ability to Flip offset and create multiple instances of the plane.
Parallel Reference Planes can be created when a face and vertex are selected, and the Parallel button is chosen in the PropertyManager under the face reference. This will create a plane parallel to the face and coincident to the vertex.
Tangent and Parallel
Tangent and Parallel Reference Planes are fully defined when a cylindrical face and a planar face or plane are selected with the Parallel button chosen under the planar face. This will create a plane tangent to the cylindrical face and parallel to the planar face.
Tangent and Perpendicular
Similarly, if you choose a cylindrical face and a planar face or plane with the Perpendicular button chosen under the planar face, this will create a plane tangent to the cylindrical face and perpendicular to the planar face.
Mid Plane Reference Planes are an easy way to create a reference plane that stays centered between two faces or planes. To create this plane, simply select two planar faces with Mid Plane selected. In this case, I chose the left and right faces to create the blue midplane in the image.
Perpendicular at a Point
This example is one of the most useful reference planes especially when creating lofts or sweeps. To create a reference plane perpendicular to a point, create a sketch and choose a line and an endpoint in the Reference Plane Property Manager. From here, you have a plane that can easily be used to create a profile of a sweep along your sketch.
Create a plane parallel to the screen
Finally, you can create a plane parallel to the screen by selecting a vertex and choosing “Create Plane Parallel to Screen”, and optionally, an offset distance.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of ways to create Reference Geometry Planes to make you more efficient in SOLIDWORKS!
Computer Aided Technology, LLC