External Threads in SolidWorks (where are they?)

One of the unexpected weaknesses in SolidWorks is that there is no External Thread feature.  For years, SolidWorks has had the Hole Wizard and related functionality for various types of holes, including threads.  But there is [was] no feature for creating external threads.  I’ve always been baffled by this.

[All this has changed as of SOLIDWORKS 2022 with the release of the new Stud Wizard tool!  The remainder of this article will be about my impressions before Stud Wizard tool from the original publish date.  I will italicize outdated statements below.  A new article will be posted at some point to review the new tool.]

Examples of Stud Wizard
From SOLIDWORKS 2022 Help File

So, when I saw that SolidWorks 2010 was improving the Cosmetic Thread annotation to allow the user to quickly choose a thread size from one of the thread standards (ANSI, ISO, etc), I had a brief glimmer of hope.  I found out, this is one of those enhancements that is just too little, too late.  All this new enhancement does is pull values from the Hole Wizard to add a Cosmetic Thread annotation.  If an external thread is desired, the user is still left with having to create the OD of the thread as a separate feature.

Sure, one may not expect an annotation to make a feature.  It just seems like an opportunity was missed.  Instead of just having the Cosmetic Thread annotation read from the standards, SolidWorks should have included an External Thread feature.

In my view, this feature should work in several ways.

  1. Allow the user to select an OD upon which the External Thread will be cut.
  2. Or, allow the user to select a flat face from which the External Thread will extend.
  3. Don’t require a precondition.  Allow the user to select their method within the workflow of External Thread command.
  4. Have the External Thread feature work the same way as Hole Wizard.  The helix of the thread is not modelled, but have several modelling and annotation options available (model to the ID or OD, and choice to use cosmetic thread).

Although the addition of the standards lookup within the Cosmetic Thread annotation is welcome, SolidWorks should fully support External Threads as an actual feature.  I created an ER for this topic this week, and invite others to do so as well.

[To see information about the new Stud Wizard (that works pretty much as I laid out above), see the What’s New for SOLIDWORKS 2022.  For more information, you can check out the SOLIDWORKS 2022 Help File articles about Stud Wizard.]

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.

7 thoughts on “External Threads in SolidWorks (where are they?)”

  1. I agree. I didn’t beleive that SW couldn’t do this?? Seems like such a basic engineering requirement. 1000’s of people must have requested this over countless product releases? Why have they not incorporated it. I am used to using Solid edge and you can do it on this program.

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  3. I really wish that Solidworks gives you the option of producing functional threads for both production and real look for sales (The cosmetic threads are not cutting it) The official line from Solidworks is “it takes too much memory”. I am sorry but I have to actually create the threads manually myself anyway using helix,etc. and this takes memory.

  4. I’ve used Autodesk products for years. Recently I switched jobs and had to quickly learn SW. The internal cosmetic threading is weak, and the external cosmetic thread is, apparently, non-existent. In Inventor threading was attractive, and regen times were seemingly uneffected.

    The other thing that really gets me is that I bought a seat of SW11 for my home office, and I can’t open anything that I model at work in SW12. Come on! Who can replace their home software every time SW revs? I have suppliers that are still using SW7 for that reason. We have to send them .step’s or parasolids; that’s crazy. -Tom

  5. Thomas, external threads are added with Cosmetic Thread annotation. This same tool can also be used to create internal threads. Are you looking to use actual modelled threads?

    As far as version interoperability, no 3D CAD application has that. However, at SolidWorks World 2012, SolidWorks did announce they would have version interoperability starting with 2013 for the last service package of the previous year.

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