Visually determine the depth of a Broken-out Section in a Drawing View during preview

Adding a broken-out section to a drawing view is very useful to show detail inside of a part without resorting to creating an additional Section View.  The Broken-out Section tool in SolidWorks allows you to quickly add this detail to an existing drawing view by simply drawing a closed spline and establishing a depth.  A preview option allows you to see the result of your choices.  The drawing view updates in real time as you change depth.

However, sometimes, it is hard to visualize the depth while you are creating the broken-out section.  Some users will simply step through various depths until the broken-out section looks about right.  This trial and error method can be time consuming.

The Broken-Out Section tool is actually smarter than that!  It detects when there are projection views of the current view (either parent or child).  If there is a projection view, you can click on the specific feature you wish to slice with the broken-out section.  To use this cool function:

  1. With the Broken-Out Section tool active and cut area established, click on the Depth Reference field in the PropertyManager. 
  2. In the adjacent side view, you will see a yellow line that represents the current depth of the broken-out section cut.  Click on the feature you wish to cut through.  The depth line will shift to the center of that feature.
  3. Click OK to accept.

The above method may not always be feasible.  Perhaps the detailed components are too large to show the multiple views on screen at the same time.  Or, perhaps there is no feature that readily provides desireable results.

Here’s a trick that may help.  Use 3D Drawing View tool to rotate the view in 3D.  As you adjust the depth in the PropertyManager, the 3D view of the model will update accordingly.

1. With the target view highlighted, choose 3D Drawing View tool.

2. Rotate the view to a desirable angle.

3. In the PropertyManager, change the depth.

4. Select OK in the PropertyManager when desired depth is found.  Then exit the 3D Drawing View tool.

The result is a happy broken-out section in your target drawing view.

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.

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