Convert Entities and Offset Entities are two powerful tools you can use when editing a sketch in SOLIDWORKS. Let’s begin with the Convert Entities tool.
Whenever we need to make a sketch entity that matches other geometry of our model we can use the Convert Entities tool. Using the Offset Entities tool we can do a similar thing, but rather than using the exact entities we can instead do an offset from the entities that were used to create another feature.
When we say “Entities” what we are referring to is either Sketch geometry or any existing model edges. Most often when using the Convert and Offset Entities commands we will leave the Converted or Offset sketch in relation to the entities we used to define the new sketches. This way, if we make a change to the original sketches the related features will update as well.
For example, if we want to create something that looks like this:
You can see we have two larger (red) holes with a keyway and one small (blue) hole with a counterbore. Focusing on the red holes, we can utilize convert entities in a way that prevents us from having to draw the second arc and keyway again. For the counterbore hole we can first draw the through hole, then create a sketch that is offset by some dimension to create the small lip of the counterbore. Let’s take a look at this step by step.
First, we can create a sketch on the first wall.
Next we can finish off the cut using a Cut-Extrude feature.
To make the Cut Feature on the back wall we first create a sketch on this face and select the edges of the hole that was created from our first cut. Another way we could do this is to select the sketch that is the parent to the first cut feature rather than the edges.
Then, we click the Convert Entities tool to project these edges onto our current sketch. This saves us some time of redrawing the arc and keyway and adding dimensions.
We end up with the converted edges projected onto our current sketch that resides on the back wall. Note, that we get the green relation squares which are called “On Edge” relations. These are automatically added to the sketch when we use Convert Entities. These can be deleted if we want to remove the relationship.
To complete the hole we can create the cut.
Moving on to the hole on the center wall we first create a sketch with a simple circle.
Finish this off with the cut, which results in a simple hole without the lip.
We can then create a sketch on the same face of the middle wall, select the edge of the hole and use the Offset Entities tool. Next, we type in the dimension and optionally choose the “Add dimensions” box. This will create an editable dimension for the offset value.
Now we have this.
The next step is to create the cut with this sketch to our desired depth.
Because we included to keep the “On Edge” relations for the Convert Entities tool and chose the “Add Dimensions” option for the Offset Entities, we can easily make changes to the model simply by editing our base sketches for the keyway and counterbore hole.
As you can see Convert and Offset Entities are powerful tools that can be used when you want to reuse entities that are simple, like in our case, or very complex. The resulting relations give use easy ways to capture our design intent for any changes that may come during the design process.
Written by Eric Weber
Eric Weber is an Application Engineer at Alignex, Inc. When Eric isn't working with customers or teaching a variety of Simulation courses, you will most likely find him building a Quadcopter Drone or experimenting with Arduino microcontrollers.