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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.