SolidWorks: Feature Mirroring
While creating parts in SolidWorks, efficiency and accuracy are essential when working on a project for a client! For projects that are repeatable, Perception Engineering saves time by applying the mirror feature command if models are symmetrical. SolidWorks is equipped with a few different types of mirroring commands: sketch mirroring, part mirroring, and feature mirroring. For this blog the focus will be on feature mirroring utilizing the given top, right, and front planes to create feature mirrors!
The mirror icon is located on the feature command bar as seen in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Mirror Icon
To ensure proper use of this feature, be sure an extrusion is modeled. This feature will mirror the extrusion over a desired plane. A simple exercise to do is to create a feature on the front plane and have it share one edge with the right plane as shown in Figure 2. This feature works the same no matter how complex the model, as long as it has one shared edge with a plane.
Figure 2: Highlighted shared the edge with a plane
Plane and Feature Selection
Now that you have a feature ready to be mirrored, such as an extrusion. Select the mirror icon on the features toolbar. The first selection box asks you to pick a mirror face/plane. Select the right plane as the mirror plane, then the right plane will appear in the selection box, as seen in Figure 3. Now, all that needs to be done is select the feature that is to be mirrored. The second selection box asks for a selection of a feature to be mirrored. It is possible to click directly on the feature itself to select it, or it can be selected on the feature manager tree. Once the feature that is desired to be mirrored is selected it will appear in the selection box.
Figure 3: Property manager
There is also an option to choose a 2D face to mirror instead of a 3D feature. By using this option, you cannot mirror bodies but only surface face features such as holes, surface cuts, and other features that are placed on an already created 3D body. To do this correctly, the face must be mirrored onto an already created feature, the face cannot be mirrored into blank space to become its own feature.
Figure 4: Faces to Mirror
The ability to mirror faces can be very helpful. If there are multiple complicated features on an extrusion body, rather than draw out every one they can simply be mirrored to the desired locations.
There is an option to preview the mirror at the bottom of the property manager, as seen in Figure 5. If the partial preview is selected a 2D highlighted copy of the newly mirrored feature will show across the right plane from the original feature. If the full preview is selected it will highlight both features showing that the outcome will be one combined body with an extrusion depth shown in 3D. All there is left to do now is click the green check at the top of the property manager and mirror the feature!
Figure 5: Preview modes
Reasons to Mirror
Mirroring is a simple and easy way to save time when modeling parts. Mirroring is used primarily to create perfect symmetry for a part, this way you only need to make half of the part in only half the time! Mirroring can also be used on more than just part bodies, it can be used on smaller extruded features, cuts, and various shapes that appear symmetrically throughout the part.
Figure 6: Fully Mirrored
The team here at Perception Engineering use the mirror command to save time when the part model is similar in geometry. Both features and sketches are used in the modeling phase regularly so having the models orientated symmetric along the top, right, and the front plane will save some time.
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