SolidWorks 2010 Rapid Dimension

Adding dimensions to parts on drawings is now quicker in SolidWorks 2010 with the addition of Rapid Dimension.  Once the user enters the Dimension command, Rapid Dimension allows the them to quickly position dimensions (almost automatically) as they are added.  Not only will dimensions automatically space out correctly as they are inserted, they will be inserted at the correct location, even without that location in view.

Now, each time a dimension is added to a drawing, SolidWorks will pop up with a pie, divided into two pieces for linear dimensions or four pieces for radial dimensions.  (Technically, these pies are called the rapid dimension manipulators.)

Linear Dim Pie Radial Dim Pie

Each piece of the pie represents the direction (which side of the part) that the user can choose to place their new dimension.  When the user selects the half or quarter, the dimension is placed in the correct location on that side of the part within the drawing view.

Rapid Dimension in Action

Two methods can be used to select the dimension location using the pie.  The user can simply LMB click on the portion of the pie in the desired direction.  The user can also use a mouseless method, by pressing tab to toggle between the pieces of the pie; then press the spacebar to select.  Additionally, the user can choose the ignore the choices offered by the pie to manually place the dimension, just as they would in previous versions of SolidWorks.

The auto-spacing between dimensions is determined by the user’s settings in Tools>Options…>Document Properties>Dimensions within the Offset distances field.  The ability to set default dimension line offsets has been in SolidWorks for quite some time, but it’s never been quite so useful as it is in Solidworks 2010.

Offset distances field

Within a few minutes of using Rapid Dimensions, many users will likely become instantly addicted to the new function, as it promises to be a major time saver when detailing drawings in SolidWorks 2010 and beyond.

Deleting Dimensions

One additional item about dimension placement is SolidWorks behavior when a dimension is deleted.  If the user deletes a dimension or even just removes text from a dimension, SolidWorks has the ability to automatically realign the spacing of the neighboring dimensions to get rid of gaps caused by that deletion.  The user has the option to turn this ability on by going to Tools>Options…>Document Properties>Dimensions to select the Adjust spacing when dimensions are deleted or text is removed checkbox.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

6 thoughts on “SolidWorks 2010 Rapid Dimension”

  1. One more thing that might be a bit hard to discover : when the “Adjust spacing when dimensions…” checkbox is checked and SolidWorks moves in dimensions after one is deleted, two commands are added to the undo stack : one for the deletion of the dimension and another for the movement of the rest of the dimensions. So hitting Ctrl-Z will undo the deletion in two steps.

    We hope this will give users more control over how dimensions are automatically moved in the event that the user did not want them moved automatically.

    Vajrang Parvate
    Sr. Manager, Drawings Development

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  4. It’s been a nice enough feature, but seems to be hit and miss on what it will work on and what it won’t. It seems that old drawings that were dimensioned in previous versions don’t gain the benefit of the auto spacing/re-spacing. At least in my experience. It’s almost like they’ve coded two sets of dimensions, one that behaves the same way as versions past and one that behaves the new way, and they don’t seem to play nice without some user parenting.

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