Introduction: 3D Modeling of Simple Objects in SolidWorks

SolidWorks is a powerful 3D CAD modeling software developed by Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. for use on Microsoft Windows. SolidWorks is a good introduction to 3D CAD as it is easy to learn, powerful, and the most popular 3D CAD software in industry.

For this tutorial we will be using SolidWorks 2010, but an older edition will easily handle the same tasks.

To begin, decide what you want to model. This tutorial will model a birdhouse to introduce features of SolidWorks such as multiple planes, as well as both rectangular and circular shapes.

Step 1: Create a Document

1. Click Start->All Programs->SolidWorks 2010->SolidWorks 2010 x64 edition

2. In the top left of the SolidWorks window, click the sheet of paper (Figure 1 ) to create a new document .

3. Select Part , then OK (Figure 2 .) The other options are for more advanced features of SolidWorks beyond the scope of this tutorial.

4. After your new part opens, press Ctrl+s to save it. Name your part “birdhouse1”. Click save .

5. To build the birdhouse using inches, click the options button on the far right of the toolbar at the top of the screen (Figure 1 .) Click the document properties tab. In the left menu, click Units then be sure that IPS is selected (Figure 3 .) This will set the birdhouse’s dimensions to inches.

Step 2: Beginning the Sketch

1. At the top left of the screen, click sketch.

2. Three planes will appear, labeled “Front Plane,” “Top Plane,” and “Right Plane.” Click Front Plane . This will tell SolidWorks to use the Front Plane as the reference plane (Figure 1 .)

3. On the top action bar, select the arrow next to the rectangle tool and click center rectangle (Figure 2 .)

4. Click on the red dot in the center of the screen, this is known as the origin. Your drawing will be dimensioned from here.

5. From the origin, drag the rectangle to the right and left and then right click and click select to deselect the rectangle tool.

Step 3: Sizing the Sketch

1. At this point you should have a blue rectangle on your screen. Go to the top left of the action bar and click Smart Dimension (Figure 2 .)

2. Click on the right edge of the rectangle, drag it to the right a small distance and left click. A box will pop up, enter 9 into this box (Figure 1 .) This will tell SolidWorks to make the right edge 9” long.

3. At this point your drawing is most likely too large for your screen. Press the f key to automatically fit the drawing to your screen. To scroll in or out, use the mouse wheel.

4. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the top line of your diagram, this time entering 6 .

5. On the left side of the screen, click the green checkmark under Dimension . This tells SolidWorks that the sketch is defined by dimension.

6. At this point you should have a rectangle 6” wide and 9” tall. You will notice that it has turned from blue to black. This means the dimensions are defined.

Step 4: Making the Shape

1. Select the line key from the toolbar at the top of the screen (Figure 2 .)

2. Click on the left edge of your rectangle, making sure the line turns orange before clicking (Figure 3 .) After this, click the orange dot at the center of the top line, this should make a line between these points. After this, click a point on the right edge of the rectangle. Press esc to exit the line tool.

3. Now we will relate the two lines we just drew. Move your mouse to the point where the new line connects to the left edge of your rectangle. This point will turn orange. Holding the Ctrl key, click the same point on the right side of your rectangle. On the left toolbar, select Horizontal from the Add Relations menu. This will relate the points horizontally. Click the green checkmark.

4. Using the smart dimension tool, click the top right corner of the rectangle, then the point where the right edge of the new line intersects the right edge of the line. Drag this to the right again as before, this time entering “3” into the box that pops up. This will define the edges of our triangles as 3 inches.

5. The Next step is to trim off the corners of the box. Under the “sketch” toolbar click “Trim Entities”. Simply click and drag the cursor through the lines that you want to remove, in this case the upper left and right edges of the rectangle as well as the line at the top. Once this is completed, close the trimming tool by selecting the green checkmark. At this point, your sketch should look like Figure 1 .

6. The final step is to lock in the dimensions again. To do this, click outside of the sketch and drag a box around the entire sketch (Figure 4 .) On the left toolbar, select Fix to lock in the dimensions.

Step 5: Adding a Roof

For these steps, Carefully observe the image (Figure 3 .) Points are labeled as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Connect the dots.

1. Select the line tool from the options toolbar (Figure 2 .)

2. Click (don't click and hold) the top left point of the birdhouse.

3. Extend this line down and to the left by following the 45° line and clicking a second point. SolidWorks will help you with this by displaying two numbers by your cursor, the first is the length of the line you're creating and the second is it's angle, in this case 45° (Figure 3 .)

3. Click a third time a short distance 45° up and left of the previous point.

4. Then, click a point directly above the top point of the birdhouse. SolidWorks will aid you with this by displaying a dotted blue line when your cursor is directly above the center point.

5. The last point to click is the top point of the birdhouse. You should now have the left half of your roof (Figure 3 .) Exit the line tool by pressing esc.

6. Select the four lines you just created by holding down the shift key and clicking them individually. From the top menu bar, select Mirror Entities . The left menu bar will change, click in the field labeled Mirror about: then click on the vertical line extending from the top of your birdhouse (between points 4 and 5.) Click the green check mark in the left toolbar.

7. Click the long edge of the roof (between points 3 and 4,) hold shift and click the edge of the birdhouse parallel to it (between points 1 and 5.) On the left toolbar under relation, select Parallel . This maintain the parallel relationship between these two lines as dimensions are added.

8. Select Smart Dimension from the Sketch toolbar. Click and drag the short edge of the roof down and to the left. A box will pop up once again, enter 0.5 as the thickness of the roof. Repeat this step for the long edge of the roof, entering 6.

9. At this point your sketch should look like Figure 1 .

Step 6: Extruding the Sketch

1. Select the Features tab near the top left corner of the screen. To make this sketch 3-D, click the Extruded Boss/Base  tool (Figure 2 .) Now the orientation of the sketch has become 3-D and we are ready to dimension the depth.

2. Our birdhouse is currently made up of three shape: the main body, the left half of the roof, and the right half of the roof. While holding shift, click on all of these individually to select them.

3. A field should be highlighted in the Direction 1 section of the toolbox. This is the depth of the object. enter a value of 7 and press the green check mark.

4. Fit the screen again by pressing the f key. At this point your sketch should look like Figure 1 .

Step 7: Hollowing the Birdhouse and Adding a Hole and a Stand

1. You now have a 3-D model of a birdhouse but it is a solid block. Click the shell tool on the features toolbar. (Figure 2 .)

2. A menu labeled “Shell 1” will appear on the left side of the screen. Click Show Preview , then enter 0.5 in the Depth box. This represents the thickness of the bird house walls. Your sketch should now look like Figure 3 .

3. Right click on the front face of the birdhouse and select the normal to icon (see Figure 4 , text will only show when mouse is hovering over the icon.) This will center the sketch on the front face of the object.

4. On the Features toolbar, select Hole Wizard (Figure 2 .) On the left toolbar, select the Positions tab. This will allow you to place the hole anywhere on the drawing. Click on your sketch at your desired height for the center of the hole. At this point horizontal positioning is not important.

5. On the Sketch toolbar, select Smart Dimension . Click on the center of the hole, then click on the left edge of your birdhouse. Enter 3 into the box that appears to center the hole. Click the green check mark.

6. At this point you will be back to the Positions tab of the left Hole Positions toolbar. Select the green green check mark. Select the Type tab of the Hole Positions toolbar, in the End Condition sections, select Up to Next from the drop down menu. This will put a hole through the front face of the birdhouse, but not the back.

7. Select the Sketch toolbar, then select the circle button (Figure 5 .) Select a center point for the perch with relation to where you placed the entrance hole. Click on this point and drag away to create a perch. As before, horizontal positioning doesn't matter at this point. Using the method described in step 5, center the perch.

8. Select the Features toolbar, and select Extrude Boss/Base (Figure 2 .) As before, enter a desired value for the length of the perch, in this case 1.5. Select the green check mark.

9. To get a 3D view of your object, select the View Orientation icon from the view toolbar (Figure 6 .) From the drop down menu, choose the second icon from the left in the top row, labeled Isometric . Fit the birdhouse to your screen by pressing the f key. Your sketch should now look like Figure 1 .

Comments

author
VilhelmB (author)2015-03-25

I'm stuck at number 4: "Using the smart dimension tool, click the top right corner of the rectangle, then the point where the right edge of the new line intersects the right edge of the line." Can't make sense of this.

author
tayv (author)2011-11-29

I just started using solidworks, and bought the SolidWorks 2011 book which covers beginner to advanced topics, and is very comprehensive. I often use the book as a reference to go through.
You can get it @ http://solidworksbook.com/

author
kelseymh (author)2011-03-03

Very nice introduction to SolidWorks!