Kinematic 2D Sketching to 3D Modeling

So you need to design a mechanism and you’re not sure where to start? Why not use an Assembly Layout?  Assembly Layouts allow you to use a whiteboard approach to mechanism design in SOLIDWORKS.  You can create basic building blocks that can be used to create 3D parts down the road.

To start you need to start an assembly and use the Assembly Layouts

Create Layout

Now you start with a 3D sketch open and a sketch plane on which to start drawing your mechanism parts.

Layout Mode

Now we have the ability to sketch basic 2D mechanism components on the grid and turn them into blocks:

Sketch Mechanism


Make Block


Make Block2

With blocks created we can join those blocks together with relationships just as we would any two sketch entities:

Add relationships

The sketch blocks are defined within themselves, so they won’t move (just like a linkage in a mechanism) and the layout mode will honor the relationships between the blocks we add.  So in the end we can now see how the mechanism would move.


At this point we’ve already blown the old whiteboard method out of the water.  We’ve got a moving mechanism that we can use to better understand how our mechanism will work earlier in our design.  Even better we can edit the sketch blocks to see how changes in our dimensions will change the motion of our assembly.

Dimension Change

This is awesome right!  We can change the dimensions of sketch blocks and see how everything moves again which will give us insight to our design sooner.  But, you’re probably sitting there saying, “Great, but what about the 3D side of this whole Kinematic 2D Sketching to 3D Modeling?”  Patience young grasshopper.

To turn these fun 2D blocks into exciting 3D masterpieces, we just use the Make Part from Block command

Make Part

From there you can pick a template for the part and you have an in context part created right with your sketch block.

New Part

Once you give those parts some features, you’ve got real 3D mechanism parts!

Mechanism Full

Take that Mr. Whiteboard! Assembly Layouts for the win!

Brandon Nelms
Application Engineer
Computer Aided Technology, Inc

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