Get in the Right Frame of Mind with SOLIDWORKS Reference Geometry

Written by Daniel Soltero, Application Engineer

When designing in SOLIDWORKS it is good practice to use reference geometry. Reference geometry can be any one of planes, axis, edges, or faces that are used to help establish restraints on edges, faces, vertices, and beam joints. While frequently used when creating sketches and features, they can also be used in assemblies. In this post we will cover the reference geometry options that are available to designers.

The Reference Geometry options are located under the Reference Geometry menu, on the assembly tab in the command manager. We’ll start with reference planes. You can use reference planes to restrict degrees of freedom and they can be used for translational and rotational purposes.






When we use axis as reference geometry we notice that there are similarities between axis and planes.

We also have coordinate systems. There is the global coordinate system which is at the origin of the part and assembly model and there is the local coordinate system which can be treated like global coordinate systems. They are used when applying restraints and loads in any direction when analyzing a model.

The next reference geometry to discuss is Point. Points are used in several ways for references. They can be used as construction geometry, location points in patterns and locations points in assemblies. They can be applies as single point references or multiple along a curve.

As we design we can even create a center of mass as a reference geometry. Even though we are not able to use the COM to drive dimensions, we are able to create COM reference points. A special note is that the COM can only be created in a part model.

Bounding boxes are great references when trying to determine the smallest box in which the body fits. The best example would be determining a required shipping package for a particular model.

And finally, we will discuss mate references. These are used when there are replicated parts or subassemblies that get mated the same way for all instances. A mate reference will mate automatically when Solidworks finds another mate with the same mate name
and the same mate type.

To learn more about reference geometry go check out

You can also use the ‘SOLIDWORKS help’ in the top right corner of the Solidworks screen.

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