When speaking to beginner SOLIDWORKS users, I always recommend taking a course like SOLIDWORKS Essentials in order to get started on the right track with their SOLIDWORKS-using experience. On the topic of planes: the word “plane” is used 337 times in the 2019 edition of the SOLIDWORKS Essentials course booklet. That’s a lot.
In this article, I’ll discuss when/why you’d look to make new reference planes for your SOLIDWORKS geometry, as well as several methods of making them. Let’s get started.
Before I really begin, there’s something I should tell you in good faith. I love making infographic-type pieces. Here’s one showing an aggregation of different plane-creation examples, as presented and taught in the SOLIDWORKS Essentials course.
Consider printing this out or bookmarking this article in an accessible location!
So, as you can see, there are many, many ways to make new reference planes. But why would you look to do this? I’ll offer some general advice on the topic here.
Do I have to create a plane for every sketch?
Nope! You don’t. In fact, I’d advise against this. Sure, you could make a new plane for every sketch, but you certainly won’t need to inside SOLIDWORKS.
My advice is simple: look to utilize system-defined planes (Front, Right, Top - available in every part you create) and/or existing model faces as sketch planes whenever possible.
If none of the currently available planes/planar faces work for the operation you’re looking to do (sketch a circle, plot a hole, etc.), then sure make a plane of your own using the methods in the infographic!
Do you have an example of when I might need to make a new plane?
Sure! There are loads of examples, but I’ll provide one here. I’ll even provide the example part (saved in SOLIDWORKS 2017) that shows this example in practice, along with the rest of the examples in my infographic.
Using a very similar part to the one pictured in my infographic, we have a circumstance where we must add structural support towards the middle of the object.
This is a great opportunity to use the Rib feature in SOLIDWORKS, a feature that takes sketch entities, adds thickness around them, and extrudes material based on its profile that fully terminates on the surface(s) parallel to the sketch.
Perfect! The only problem is that the material needs to be offset from the front circular face of the part. If I sketch a line on that face, the extrusion will start from it. This isn’t what we want.
While there are other ways to do this, I think the simplest approach in a spot like this is to: 1) make a new reference plane, then 2) add the sketch there.
First, we make a reference plane (by going to Features>Reference Geometry>Reference Plane on the CommandManager ribbon). We tell it to exist offset from the circular face - 20mm from it, to be exact.
Then, we make the sketch on this new plane. After making the sketch, we can use the Rib command (on the CommandManager, select Rib) to extrude a single line and have it act as structural support.
After that, I added a fillet to round out the support. Finished!
Now, about that example. See below for a link to download the part!
Click here to download a SOLIDWORKS part that contains 10 examples of how to create a plane in SOLIDWORKS!
Want more SOLIDWORKS Tips and Tricks? Check out our YouTube channel below.
About the Author
Sean O'Neill is a Community & User Advocacy Manager at DS SOLIDWORKS. He is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert (CSWE), a SOLIDWORKS World Presenter, and a former SOLIDWORKS VAR Marketing Manager. You can follow him on Twitter: @ServicePackSean.