Flipping Normal: A Fresh Perspective to SolidWorks Sketches and Mates

Flip Normal

SolidWorks 2014 gives you a lot of new options, but this one has been a long time coming: Flip Normal!

You are no longer prey to Reference Plane normals dictated by the geometry from which they are spawn. The new Flip Normal option allows you to control the XY orientation of your sketches, the positive Z for your extrusions, and gives you the ability to better control mate alignment when replacing a components sketches and faces. You are the Commander!

Flip Normal

Where To Flip Normal?

The entities which control “Normal” are Reference Planes. The default Front, Top, and Right planes have their normals globally defined and may not be changed.

The first place you have the opportunity to Flip Normal is in the Reference Plane creation dialogue box. When you start the Reference Plane command, you will notice the preview shows a small blue arrow in the center of the new plane preview and scrolling to the very bottom of the Property Manager you will see the ‘Flip Normal’ check box.

Flip Normal

The second place to ‘Flip Normal’ is from the Context Menu appearing over your selection of a Reference Plane, either from the graphics area or from the feature in the Feature Tree.

Flip Normal

How Does Flipping Normal Affect My Parts?

The simplest thing I could think to create was an arrow. Flipping normal will make the tip of your arrow either point away from its shaft (normal) or bury it into its shaft (flipping normal).

Flip Normal

Flip Normal

Flipping Normal: A Practical Application

Flip NormalBefore giving you the ability to ‘flip normal’, SolidWorks was kind of like the last person in the stall, leaving you with an empty roll in a desperate time of need. Flipping normal can make a huge difference when it comes to modifying parts used in assemblies. How many times have you made changes to your part only to return to the assembly and see everything inverted? Frustrating! Aligned, anti-aligned….what the heck is the difference?! Who Cares?! All you know is that your assembly needs to be rebuilt. Well, flipping normal can now save you the heartache and confusion of having to fumble with mate alignments, because your mates can remained aligned as they were originally created.

 

Let’s start by changing configurations:

Flip Normal

Now that’s better, but it’s just not quite right.

Flip Normal

I’m not certain anything in history has truly caused more strife. By selecting the sketch plane on which the roll was originally sketched, and choosing Flip Normal…

Flip Normal

…our assembly is corrected and our mates preserved!

Flip Normal

 

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