What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2018 with Sketching and Part Modeling

I’ve been using SOLIDWORKS 2018 for a while now, and as I continue my journey through my favorite new features, let’s dive into the updates and improvements with Sketching and Part Modeling. There are a lot of little changes and enhancements within these environments. So I’ve weeded through all the updates, and I present to you my favorite updates in these areas.

Great Products Start with Great Design. Innovation, quality, and performance are essential to a great design. To create great products, you need the right design tools. Your design tools should be flexible enough to support creative thinking, yet powerful enough to handle the complexity of today’s products, and to provide manufacturing with everything they need to develop the finished product.”


As an article on sketching and part modeling improvements, we might as well start with the What’s New with sketching.

You can now flip the tangency direction of arcs and splines.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Reverse Endpoint Tangent

Mirror entities about reference planes or planar model faces. No longer just about lines and edges.

Sketching and Part Modeling Mirror About Plane

Smart Dimension no longer supports pre-selecting objects. Within SOLIDWORKS 2018 utilize Auto Insert Dimension to create the “most appropriate” dimension from the selected object(s). For example, Auto Insert Dimension creates a linear dimension for lines, a radial dimension for arcs, and a diameter dimension for circles.

Sketch and Part Modeling


Other sketching and part modeling improvements:

  • Mirror Entity support in 3D Sketches
  • enable/disable Automatic SolveMode and Undo; no longer disable with large sketches
  • Circular sketch patterns are no longer limited in the number instances
  • New Pen, Touch, and Gesture-based sketching


Part Modeling Improvements

Continuing with our look at the improved sketching and part modeling features. It’s not uncommon that the way you have modeled something does not match the ordered it will be manufactured. With the updated Advanced Hole Callouts you define the order of the hole callouts, adjusting them to match the manufacturing order.

In staying with holes, SOLIDWORKS 2018 provides flexibility on the size matching that occurs within the Hole Wizard. Additionally, utilize baseline dimensions to define the locations of advanced holes. With baseline enabled, SOLIDWORKS measures both the near and far side elements from the same initial baseline dimension.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Advanced Hole Use Baseline

The Hole Wizard now provides two options for size matching. Use the “Preserve” option to utilize the legacy behavior to save the settings for each hole type. Use the “Transfer” option to have SOLIDWORKS attempt to match the size settings for the last hole type and the size settings for the new hole type. Note, this matching is completed using string comparisons.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Hole Wizard Settings

Use the new Bounding Box feature to completely enclose your model. This works with single bodies, multi-bodies, and with sheet metal parts.  As the model changes the bounding box automatically updates. Additionally, use the shortcut menu to hide, show, suppress, and unsuppress a bounding box.

The Configuration Specific tab provides 4-bounding box properties. Utilize these dimensions to help determine the space required to ship and package the model. Even cooler is that you can reference these properties in the Bill of Materials and other tables.

The What’s New guide provides the following note regarding this feature: “The bounding box calculated by the SOLIDWORKS software might not have the
minimum volume for some bodies and parts. You should use past experience and experimental data to review the suggested bounding box, and modify it if necessary.”

Quick hits…

  • You no longer can delete custom properties linked to parent parts
  • Cosmetic Threads now generate “more reliably” on mirrored features
  • The Defeature tool is more reliable, especially with holes
  • Feature Freeze Bar now works with all folders
  • Use Convert to Mesh Body to convert solids, surfaces, or graphic bodies into mesh BREP bodies

SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes a significant overhaul for mesh model handling. It now treats mesh data just like it is surface or solid geometry. This also means you can convert solid or surface geometry to mesh or mesh data into solids and surfaces.


Sheet Metal Enhancements

When creating Normal Cuts, normalize all non-normal side walls by selected the faces to define the normal sheet metal side wall. So What? This helps ensure proper clearances for manufacturing.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Normal Cut

Very cool, use the Tab & Slot feature to create tabs on one body and slots on the other… that’s right, you just read that right! And not just for sheet metal, it’s also available for weldment frames.

SOLIDWORKS 2018 Tab and Slot

SOLIDWORKS 2018 includes improvements to the Three Bend Corner Relief including support for reliefs smaller than the required corner cutout and the ability to create a suitcase corner. And the best part, even with this new capability you can even flatten these three-corner bends.


Final Thoughts?

“SOLIDWORKS 2018 provides four new end-to-end process solutions that simplify the interactions between disciplines across product development to improve your business outcomes.”

Make sure to read the What’s New Guide closely, as there are many enhanced features that are more specific, opposed to broad strokes in all situations. A lot of hidden gems in this year’s upgrade when it comes to sketching and part modeling. I especially love the Tab & Slow sheet metal feature and the new & improved method of generating bounding boxes of my models.


Feature image from Gratisography