There is a setting in SOLIDWORKS that changes the software’s behavior, and most new users aren’t aware of it. It’s called Instant3D and if you’re unaware of what it does, it will be beneficial for you to continue reading this short article.
Instant3D is ON by default, and can be found on the Features tab of the Command Manager.
As can be seen in the large balloon tip, Instant3D allows for dragging “handles” to resize dimensions and reshape geometry. Looking at the image above, we can see some of these handles.
All it takes to see the drag handles is to click a face of the model. The dimensions which appear will be the dimensions associated with whatever feature the selected face is related to.
Dragging to resize or reshape geometry may be a nice way to visualize alterations, and it may be useful for research and development, but dragging is inherently not very precise. If a specific value is needed, typing that value in is preferable to dragging.
Another aspect of Instant3D is the ability to reshape sketch geometry. However, this only works for underdefined geometry. Leaving sketch geometry underdefined is not considered good practice and can result in unpredictable behavior. Where Instant3D works well is when it is necessary to reposition or reshape splines.
To try this for yourself, sketch a spline and create a simple swept feature to use as an example. Toggle on sketch visibility (use those little eyeglasses in the toolbar when clicking the sketch in the FeatureManager) and try dragging one of the spline points. You will find it is possible even though you are not technically editing the sketch.
There is one more aspect of Instant3D we should discuss, which is editing dimensions and how they appear when being edited. With Instant3D enabled, a single click is all that’s needed to show a feature’s dimensions. Likewise, a single click on a dimension value is all that’s needed to change that value.
If Instant3D is turned off, double clicks are required. In other words, it becomes necessary to double click a feature to see it’s dimensions, and it is also necessary to double click a dimension to edit it. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
If we look at the dimension value itself as it is being edited, we can see how the appearance changes.
In the image above, on the left, Instant3D is enabled. On the right, it is not. With Instant3D turned off, the Modify window appears when editing dimensions. There is additional functionality in the Modify window which is not present with Instant3D enabled, such as the ability to increment or decrement the dimension value by precise amounts.
In the long run, one particular work style is not necessarily better than another. Whether you decide to use Instant3D or not depends on your personal preference and what you are trying to accomplish.
What is most important, though, is that you know about the Instant3D setting and what it can do. Now that you know about it, experiment and see which work style works best for you.