Creating a Model for Water Ripple Effect with SOLIDWORKS xDesign

In order to succeed in the product design industry, you need to have hands-on experience with design software, and rudimentary knowledge of 3D printers, laser cutting, etc. As a graduate student at the Purdue School of Engineering, I was looking for an opportunity to get more hands-on industry experience and started an internship at SOLIDWORKS.

My role in Product Management working on the new SOLIDWORKS xDesign includes tasks such as modeling in xDesign, giving feedback on software improvements, and training documentation. I also have had an opportunity to use the company’s FABLAB to manufacture whatever I design.

Design Inspiration: Water Ripples

I think it’s fascinating to see ripples in the water. I searched a little bit over the internet for ideas and came up with cam and following mechanism ideas to test my modeling.

Here’s my model of water ripple!

Let me walk you through the design process I used in SOLIDWORKS xDesign. First, I created the base and top mounting plates with holes in them for vertical support structure. The base mount has two extra holes for fasteners. Top mount has 25 holes for follower’s translation motion. I certainly want to tell you about an interesting feature I came across while sketching. You can create polylines, arcs with same command when you hover over the endpoints.

Next up is Rod Support Structure, which has extended boss extrude for restricting downward motion top mount plate. In the middle portion it has hole for a camshaft. This camshaft has extended arm handle for rotational motion, which was converted by Circular Cams to translational motion of ripple fringe plates on top.

Here’s comes the complex part: after designing the circular cam with mount hole. In this model, I have used 25-inch cams + 25-inch followers; all of them have separate coordinate systems and planes. I had real trouble in assembling these cams with relative alignment mates. The centermost cam is 180 degree phase out to adjacent cams. Further, as we move away from center, the next cam is leading by 30 degrees to previous cam. With all those planes, alignment….whooof….I had to be patient. The software saves your part or assembly file as component, therefore you can create multi-body parts and save it. Whenever you need them you have to follow an amazingly simple procedure. Drag and Drop from “my contents.”

I also modeled followers with circular head and ripple fringe plates as per the spacing needed. That was a cakewalk. As this software is still evolving, there are some limitations with motion constraints in assembly. xDesign doesn’t have cam and follower motion constraint (for now!). Thus, I have used tangent constraint between circular cam and follower head. Hence I could convert the rotational motion from handle to cam to followers in translational motion.

I guess, this resulted ripple could have been better with different cam alignment. What do you think guys?

I was also able to use SOLIDWORKS xDesign anywhere and on any device because it’s cloud-based. Just need an internet connection! Check it out for yourself at

Nikhil Potabatti

Nikhil Potabatti

Nikhil Potabatti is pursuing his masters in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue School of Engineering and Technology,IUPUI. He has previously worked at Spike Aerospace as Aerospace Design Engineering Intern where he spent time designing components for supersonic business jet. He is passionate about creating designs, analyzing them with Structural and CFD Study. In his free time, he likes to play Tennis, do yoga, go for run! He is huge follower of Formula 1 motorsports.
Nikhil Potabatti

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