*This article makes some inaccurate statements regarding the capability of SolidWorks.Â Please see the correction article for details.Â Inaccurate statements have been crossed out.Â The methodology described in this article should be referenced as an example of bad practice that should only be employed if traditional methods fail.Â Edits to this article appear in this color.*
*Additional comment: this article does demonstration a good method for getting a line along a curved surface into a sketch.Â *
Good mold design means that one must take care to control the root width of a rib.Â How does one do this if the rib is based on a curved (non-prismatic) surface?Â
SolidWorks has many powerful features for making injection molding parts.Â It has both rib and draft features.Â
Unfortunately, these two features together have one important limitation.Â When applying a draft to a rib based on a curved surface, SolidWorks does not allow the user to hold the root width of that rib.Â SolidWorks requires a prismatic surface to use as a neutral plane from which to start a draft.Â This means in this case, the draft can only be started from the top of the rib, not its root.Â If one wishes to hold the rib root constant along a curved surface, one cannot use the rib or the draft features.
SolidWorks does have an arsenal of other features and toolsÂ to allow one to buildÂ an alternativeÂ strategy
toÂ workaround this limitation.Â Â
This first figure shows a fairly simply shelled injection molded part with a complex curved surface.Â To make drafted ribs using this method, first create an axis that can be used as an directional guide. You can choose to use features on the part itself for this purpose, instead. I prefer to create a special sketch at the location where I plan to add a boss.Â Regardless of the method used, the directional guide should be parallel to the direction planned for the ribs.
The second step is to start a new sketch above the curved surface.Â In that sketch, draw the outline of the rib.
If there is a series of ribs needed in one direction, try creating a sketch patternÂ theÂ other instances.Â Make sure to turn sketch entities of the other instances into construction lines.
Use Split Line to project that outline onto the curved surface.Â Split Line will only project one contour per sketch.Â This is why it is important to turn all other instances of the rib into construction lines.Â Having those other instances pre-drawn will save time when making the other ribs
(covered in Part 2 of this article).Â
Next, start a 3DSketch.Â Use Convert Entitles to bring the Split Line curves into the sketch.Â Drag the end points of the curves so they are coincident (on the surface) of the outside surface of the outer walls, or some othe appropriate location.Â Then, close the contour by drawing lines to connect the curves at each end.Â
Extrude this sketch.Â Use the previously drawn axis from the first sketch as the direction.Â Use the top surface of the cavity (or whatever is appropriate) as up-to-surface entity.Â Turn on Draft and specify the desired angle.Â Hereâ€™s the funny part.Â Be sure to extrude a small amount (smaller than the wall thickness of the part)Â in the other direction without draft.Â Â If this isnâ€™t done, a zero-point error will pop up preventing the completion of this step.
The end result will be a drafted rib with a controlled root width.
Part 2 of this article will detail how to create repeated and crossing ribs using this same technique.Â Again, please note this is not a best practice method.Â See the correction article for details.