Getting the Overall Length of a Bent Tube
Numerous times, customers have asked me how to get the overall length of a tube created in SolidWorks. If you have a seat of SOLIDWORKS Office Premium, the Routing capability will give you the overall length of a tube/wire. But many of us just have a SOLIDWORKS Core or SOLIDWORKS Office Professional seat, so we lack that capability that routing provides. So here is a Redneck Workaround to get the overall length of a bent tube:
The tube I will use for this example was made with the Sweep command using a profile and path. I need to obtain the overall length of the tube and my driving dimensions do not capture that. So what I will do is edit the path sketch and add some reference dimensions to it. I will add two dimensions to determine the lengths of the arcs (arc length dimensions are made by selecting the two end points of the arc and then the arc itself), and I will add one dimension for the vertical straight length in my model.
Next, I need to add global variable to sum up the length of the tube segments through the equations tool. My equation will be Overall Length = the sum of the tube segment lengths. The equation would be “Overall Length” = 5.0 + 0.785 + 1.5 + 0.785 + 4.0 for this example. But I do not want to key in those values in the equation. I want to select the dimensions from the sketch to ensure that the Overall Length updates if any of the dimensions update.
Lastly, I will add a Custom Property from File>Properties and link it to the global variable Overall Length. This custom property can be displayed in a note in a drawing or in the BOM.