Organic Shapes in Solidworks (And other fun things)

Making complicated, organic forms in Solidworks is actually quite simple.

We were taught this process the day before a big due date for another project, so naturally, not many people were there to pay attention. I really wanted to put what I’d learnt into practice straight away so I could see how it worked and ask questions as it went. I got on a real roll, so didn’t take many pictures. I did however, like the process enough to use it again when I started modelling my iron.

To begin, you need elevation views. Well taken photos of the product with minimal distortion. You can insert them into sketches via tools/ sketch tools/ sketch picture. Once you set up elevations on each plane, and throw in some dimensional guidelines, you can trace the outlines from multiple views and then loft them together. This is what I did to create these parts of the bottle.

To add in further detailing, sweeps, lofted cuts and swept cuts are really handy with organic shapes.

Good old extrusions are useful too, but rather than extruding from the sketch plane, select from ‘surface’ to translate organic curves.

I was really pleased with how this part came out and super proud of my efforts. There were a couple of threads still to do, but my plan was to do them within the assembly.

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When I went to assemble all the components together, I realised that I’d overlooked a couple of the simpler parts.

After doing so many parts, especially some of the harder ones, I was able to do these extra bits really quickly. It was helpful that most of the processes were the same across many of the parts; revolve a very detailed sketch, circular-pattern some cuts and extrusions, then add a thread. The first time doing these things was painful, but by the fifth time, it felt natural.

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When I first planned my assemblies (while originally deconstructing the product) I mapped out a plan of how I’d put them together in CAD.

My original plan was to group them in the order that I had opened them – and I built my sub-assemblies as such; most-inner group, inner group, outer group, whole bottle.

After putting my sub-assemblies into the master, then needing to manipulate the pump so it sat in the ‘down’ position, I realised that my groupings weren’t quite right.

I reorganised them so that there were ‘moving parts’ and ‘non-moving parts’. That way, all of the moving parts were contained and they worked together.

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IMG_6346I also learned that I had no idea where the tiny ball that I’d lost on original opening went, so I had to go back and make a few edits to get that right.

When it was time to make a custom bottle, I wanted to keep the same neck configuration so that I could fit the sub-assembly right in.

I went back to the original bottle file, wound it all the way back to the start, and edited the first loft.

I made sure to keep the top and bottom points exactly the same and just change the shape of the curves.

It broke. I deleted the offending relations and added new ones.

It broke again.

It broke many times. Fortunately I expected this and was able to work through the problem slowly until it worked (despite Solidworks’ atrocious excuse for a troubleshooting interface).

Then I moved past the loft and rolled forward, piece-by-piece, over each step in the part, fixing or deleting and replacing each feature as I went.

It broke a lot, but ultimately, I got it to work. I was so happy with the result and doing it this way saved me a lot of time.

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