Wednesday, February 19, 2014

SOLIDWORKS TECH TIPS: Ruled Surface - A Quick Trick to Make a Complex Cut

If you have ever had to create a swept cut that always remains normal to your profile, it can become a very daunting task when we start to look at items with changing curvatures. The need to develop guide curves and other types of constraints to limit the rotation of the profile becomes vexing at best. What if there was a way to quickly select the path and create the normal surface you are after within a single feature?

In fact, there is; it is just in a slightly different location than many SolidWorks users look. The feature in question is Ruled Surface.

So what exactly is a ruled surface and where can it be found? Glad you asked! We can first look at the SolidWorks description:

The Ruled Surface command creates surfaces that extend out in a specified direction from selected edges.


This seems a little nebulous at best so it may be better to look at some of the listed examples of this functionality.

Examples of how you can use ruled surfaces:


Tangent to Surface
Ruled surface is tangent to the surfaces that share an edge.

Normal to Surface
Ruled surface is normal to the surfaces that share an edge.

Tapered to Vector
Ruled surface is tapered to the specified vector.

Perpendicular to Vector
Ruled surface is perpendicular to the specified vector.


Sweep
Ruled surface is built by creating a swept surface using selected edges as guide curves.


So now that we know a little bit more about its features and general characteristics, where can we find it?


The easiest way would be to activate the Surfaces tab in the Command Manager. Of course, we can also look in the Insert pull-down under Surfaces or Mold Tools for that matter.

So now that we know where to find it, how will this tool help us rid ourselves of frustrations when dealing with swept cuts maintain normal? Many of us have had parts with complex sweep paths that just never seem to provide us with the result we are after. 

Here is a great example of a model with a curved face that is causing issues when trying to remove material and maintain a perimeter that will remain normal to the curved top surface. Let’s look at how we can use Ruled Surface, along with a few other tools, to allow us to get the geometry we are after.



Step 1: Create your Ruled Surface from your existing geometry.



Step 2: Once the Ruled Surface is activated, pay attention to the property manager. In this case, we want to select the radio button for Normal to Surface.



Step 3: Once you have established your initial options in the Property Manager, you need to select the appropriate edges and depth to create your desired geometry.




Step 4: Surface Creation. Once you are happy with your preview, select the green checkmark to exit the command and create your surface.



Step 5: Cut With Surface. Now that we have this nice surface that maintains a normal the entire way around our part, we need to use another feature option called Cut With Surface, also found on the Surfaces tab of the Command Manager.



Step 6: Material Removal. Once inside the Cut With Surface command interface, you will be asked to select which direction you wish to remove material. In this case, you would want the arrow to point away from the part.





Step 7: Now that you have cut with a surface, you are left with both the solid body with the newly created face and the surface. You can hide the surface body, and are now left with the geometry you were having difficulty creating via a sweep.




For more training and tutorials on the many 3D CAD Modeling solutions in the SolidWorks family of products and add-ons, please feel free to look through our Webcast Archive, register for an upcoming webcast or event, or look into our 3DU SolidWorks Training and Certification courses.

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