Patterning – Tips and Tricks

Types of Patterns

In SolidWorks we have several types of pattern features enabling us to control our models proficiently, particularly when it comes to rebuild times and performance.

These include:

  • Linear Pattern
  • Circular Pattern
  • Mirror
  • Curve Driven Pattern
  • Sketch Driven Pattern
  • Table Driven Pattern
  • Fill Pattern

In this month’s blog I want to focus on a couple of basic examples and hopefully they will enhance the way you pattern within SolidWorks and add to all content already available to users.

Linear vs Curve Driven Pattern

The Linear Pattern allows you to create multiple instances of a feature in a specific direction with uniform spacing along a linear (straight) edge.


However if we were to change the postition of our seed hole for example from a 12/12 top left corner location to 20/20 we see an error message that the pattern is unable to be rebult.

Thereby another way we could improve our control would be through creating a ‘centre rectangle’ (a single entitiy) on the top face, using the soft snaps of the hole feature to locate it. We can then look at using the ‘curve driven pattern feature for greater control and also equal spacing.


The pattern is now being controlled along the length of our selected (horizontal) edge with equal spacing. A second ‘curve driven pattern’ can be used to create our vertical 3 instances, before finally using two mirror commands to propergate to the third and forth sides.


What this means is that we can simply go back to our original instance, change the locating values from 12/12 to 20/20 and the controling rectangle updates the pattern as it is related to the original hole feature, thus making this extremely tolerant when it comes to rebuilds and changes. Of course this a very simple example and requires additional commands compared to the linear pattern, but the return is gained downstream with changes.



Options within Curve Driven Pattern

Taking this elliptical edge as for the direction and a new 2014 slot Hole Wizard feature we can create another pattern but there are various options within the command we could use, by default the offset curve with align to seed is fine, however let’s look at the remaining options.


Transform curve takes the X,Y positions from the Origin for each instance


In terms of alignment then deviating away from ‘align to seed’ we have tangent to curve and we can see the result of this particular condition.


Instances to Vary

Instances to vary, was introduced in SolidWorks 2013 when SolidWorks enhanced patterning capabilities. This option assists you not only in time reduction but also in condensing the number of features required.  Within the Pattern command we are able to increment a feature through the spacing or size, we can control this using a dimension and even override individual instances.

In this example we have a slot located on the origin and created a linear pattern going vertically above with 8 instances. In the properties dialogue I have activated the ‘Instances to Vary’ option and set that my Dimension 1 Increment (which was set at 65mm) should increase by 7mm per instance – again this could also be a negative value should I require. Moreover, I have also specified that the 450mm length of my slot should decrease by 50mm per instance


Clicking on each of the purple spheres alows you to control individual instances and I have changed the third to show a reduction in slot length.



By Simon Beamish

Elite Applications Engineer at Solid Solutions Management

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Solid Solutions Technical Team
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Solid Solutions Technical Team
Solid Solutions Technical Team
Solid Solutions Technical Team

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