SolidWorks Tutorials and Videos

Surface Continuity

by Mark Biasotti, DS SolidWorks Corp.

Why are surfacing tools important? What does it all mean? This presentation covers surfacing theory, and why surface continuity is important.

Download from SolidWorks: Surface Continuity


  1. April 25, 2011    

    Smooth and constant curvature is great for cases where the final product is a nice picture or a model to be sent to a 3D printer. But, when a 2D drawing needs to be sent to Romania for manufacturing, thing become more difficult. The lack of dimensionable arcs and definable tangencies requires a different technique for detailing. I would love to see an article on how you would turn a nice ergonomic shape into a 2D drawing for manufacture.

    • April 25, 2011    


      You are correct, there is no way to define a nice curved shape if you are restricted to representing that shape on a 2D drawing. My company has never used 2D drawings to fully represent a 3D shape.

      The F-16 control stick takes up something like 9 “J” sized sheets. A “J” sheet is three “D” sheets long. The drawing views get into the high double characters. That isn’t even a full description, it technically was controlled by the drawing, but I’m told that really there was a master pattern built; carved from mahogany.

      So, can you define these curvy shapes? No, not really. What do we do? “NOTE 1: EXTERIOR GEOMETRY MUST CONFORM WITH THE CURRENT REVISION OF CAD FILE 123456-1”

      Thus, we only work with suppliers that are able to take our CAD file directly and turn it into a model. Our current casting supplier, when we do small runs, actually uses a 3D printer to make the pattern for the investment castings. The CAD data can also be used directly in a CMM machine to compare the product with the reference. Most tooling shops for plastic injected molds should be able to make tooling from CAD data, they are using CNC software to create their toolpaths.

      So, my company has been making curvy parts since the 1960s. It is now quite a bit easier with CAD, but it was always possible. It never involved (except by those crazy F-16 guys) using a 2D drawing as reference.

      • April 29, 2011    

        Thanks for the input Charles. Today’s technology allows for much better accuracy for parts that fit on a table or smaller. Unfortunatly, my parts are 4 – 6 meters in diameter. That would be a lot of 3D prints to glue together to make a mold. :-)

        • April 29, 2011    

          Sure, but our entire CAD library fits on a memory stick I can fit in my pocket. Our casting vendors never actually seen paper from us. Just SolidWorks (or .stp or .stl) files.

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