Five Great Smart Dimension Tips for Sketch and Drawings

While every SOLIDWORKS user knows how to dimension lines, arcs or circles, I noticed that some engineers do not know the full power of Smart Dimension. So, in this tech blog I want to show you five handy tricks to optimize your Smart Dimension usage!

1. Angle Dimension based on points

This one is handy for dimensioning the angle of an arc. Normally you would draw some construction lines and use these for the angular dimension, but it’s also possible to use the three points of the arc.

Angle Dimension based on points

Use the following selection order, while having the Smart Dimension tool active:

  1. Select the first endpoint of the arc.
  2. Select the second endpoint of the arc.
  3. Select the center of the arc.
  4. Place the angle dimension at the desired location.

2. Angle Dimension using an imaginary line

Sometimes you want to add an angle dimension, but you don’t have a reference line for it. In this case, you can use the following tip, so you can add an angle dimension by using an imaginary line.

Angle Dimension using an imaginary line

Use the following selection order, while having the Smart Dimension tool active:

  1. Select the line.
  2. Select one endpoint of the line.
  3. Select an arrow of the crosshair, to determine the direction of the angle dimension.
  4. Place the angle dimension at the desired location.

3. Arc length dimension

Do you also want to dimension the length of an arc? No problem with the following trick.

Arc length dimension

Use the following selection order, while having the Smart Dimension tool active:

  1. Select the first endpoint of the arc.
  2. Select the second endpoint of the arc.
  3. Select the arc.
  4. Place the arc length dimension at the desired location.

4. Dimension to the outside of an arc or circle

Normally when you place a dimension between two arcs or circles, SOLIDWORKS will place the dimension between the center points. But sometimes you want to place a dimension from the outside of an arc or circle.

Dimension to the outside of an arc or circle

Use the following selection order, while having the Smart Dimension tool active:

  1. Hold down the Shift-key and select the outside of the first circle.
  2. Hold down the Shift-key and select the outside of the second circle.
  3. Place the distance dimension at the desired location.

5. Automatically finding virtual sharps for dimensions

Sometimes when you have a fillet or chamfer applied at a corner, you will miss a corner to place a dimension. In this case, you will need a virtual sharp, that will represent a sharp corner.

Automatically finding virtual sharps for dimensions

Use the following selection order, while having the Smart Dimension tool active:

  1. Right-click a line, and select Find Intersection.
  2. Select another line that intersects the first selection.
  3. A virtual sharp appears at the intersection.
  4. To find a virtual sharp at another location, you can right-click a line again, and select Find Intersection.
  5. Select another line that intersects the first selection.
  6. A virtual sharp appears at the intersection.
  7. Place the distance dimension at the desired location.

Conclusion

I hope you have learned some great new ways to place your dimensions with the Smart Dimension tool in SOLIDWORKS. These methods can save you a lot of time, in particular the ones where you don’t need to draw extra construction lines. The mentioned tips will work for the Smart Dimension tool for both sketch and drawing.


Written by Martijn Visser

CAD2M
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