A Catalog Feature is a predefined Sketch or Feature that can be inserted into a model with a single command. The sketch variation of the Catalog Feature allows inserting a sketch that is completely drawn, constrained and dimensioned.
Although equations can be used to define the sketch in the Catalog Feature, only the actual parameter values will be inserted with the sketch, and any formulas will be lost. This prevents creating a catalog feature whose dimensions will automatically adjust to existing parameters within a part. If you need the Catalog Feature to use a formula or part value, you must edit the Catalog Feature parameters after insertion and change the equations to formulas or part values.
In this tutorial we will cover taking a sketch of a Raised Panel cutter profile, and create a sketch Catalog Feature. That cutter profile can then be inserted into a part model, and be used to create a new feature based on the sketched profile. Another Instructable will use this sketch Catalog Feature to create a Raised Panel part with this profile defining the raised panel profile.
If you want to create a sketch Catalog Feature from an existing sketch that is already used to create a Feature, you must first delete that Feature to allow the creation of the Catalog Feature. Just make sure the part is saved that contains the desired sketch, delete the feature that uses the sketch, create the Catalog Feature, and then quit WITHOUT saving the changes to the part file.
Step 1: Create Sketch
The first step is to create a new Part, and draw the desired sketch. Fully constrain and dimension the sketch. You need to make sure that everything is fully constrained and dimensioned, as the Catalog Feature will be moved and re-oriented during insertion. If it is not fully constrained, the sketch may come apart while it is being manipulated. Orientation is not important as the Catalog Feature can be re-oriented and moved upon insertion if constructed properly.
Another important consideration is to avoid any undesirable implied constraints that would prevent the sketch from being relocated after insertion. Avoid use of the Origin or Reference Axes, and keep lines from being drawn on them. It is also a good idea to avoid moving the sketch about after being drawn to avoid any other implied locating constraints. We will address attempts to fix undesired constraints being inserted into the Catalog Feature at the end of this tutorial.
We prefer to create our Catalog Features in the upper right quadrant of the XY plane, and generally orient cutters similarly to their orientation in sales literature. In fact, we often insert a vendor graphic or scan of the cutter outline (traced onto paper) into an Alibre drawing, scale it to actual size, and do our best to trace the outline.
Below is a sketch of an example of a Raised Panel cutter profile. This profile was taken from an image downloaded from the vendors site on the Internet, and the values listed in the sales literature. The information is often less than complete, and this sketch should not be relied upon to be totally accurate and should be verified from the actual cutter.