Something Intersecting in SolidWorks 2013: Join Your Parts to Find Volumes

This is yet another trick to find the volume of a fluid, air, etc in SolidWorks; I seem to get asked this often, so I’d like to share all the different tips and tricks you can use to make your design experience faster and simpler.

With the new Intersect command in SolidWorks 2013, you can extract volumes in a snap.  And with a little help from the Join command, we can extend these command capabilities into your assemblies as well.

As soon as I saw this command in SolidWorks 2013, I knew it could have helped with an old post I ran at the beginning of the year, titled “Design Studies in a Bottle.” In it, I showed how to extract the volume of a bottle and then use Design Studies to monitor the fluid volume. Feel free to review that post here if you’d like, and/or watch the video walkthrough from it below.


The method I used to extract the volume months ago involved copying bodies, extruding blocks, and using a myriad of features such as Combine. You can eliminate all of these now with one simple Intersect feature in SolidWorks 2013.  Simply pop a plane on top of the bottle and run Intersect!
Just like that, we have a solid body to match the volume of the bottle. You can then use Mass Properties, Design Studies, Configurations or whatever method you prefer to monitor and extract the volume.

Intersect is a fantastic one-step replacement for procedures that used to take multiple features in SolidWorks 2012.

Another use I starting thinking of was at an assembly level.  What if I wanted a fluid volume of a series of components such as a tank minus the pump?  Or maybe this paint sprayer tank minus the suction set and filter?

Unfortunately, the Intersect command does not allow you to grab parts in the context of an assembly, so I dusted off a little-used command and figured out how to “Join” this all together.

The Join command is a perfect way to insert all the needed parts into a single part as bodies; this opens us up to – you guessed it – Intersect! I’m even able to keep this extra part Virtual, eliminating the need to manage an extra file.

Check out this video on how to use Intersect and Join to get the volumes you need quickly.

I hope this tip was helpful.  Enjoy playing with Intersect in SolidWorks 2013!


Brian VanderPloeg is an Applications Engineer at Fisher/Unitech, a SolidWorks Value Added Reseller with locations across the Midwestern
and Northeastern United States. He is a regular contributor to the Fisher/Unitech blog.

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