How to Design with SOLIDWORKS Draft Feature

   By Joe Perera on August 7, 2023

In the realm of 3D modeling and design, SOLIDWORKS stands as a prominent software that empowers engineers and designers to bring their creative visions to life. Among its many powerful features, one that deserves special attention is the Draft feature. Particularly essential in mold making and casting processes, Draft is the incorporation of a taper or angle on vertical surfaces of a 3D model. This addition allows the smooth ejection of the model from a mold or die during the manufacturing process. By implementing Draft effectively, designers can minimize the risks of part distortion, surface imperfections, and damages that may occur during demolding. This article will delve deeper into the significance of Draft, explore its benefits, explain the application process in SOLIDWORKS, and provide tips for using Draft effectively.

Why use Draft?

Draft plays a pivotal role in manufacturing processes, especially when it comes to creating products using molds and dies. The primary purpose of Draft is to ensure efficient and damage-free part removal from the mold. By adding a slight angle to vertical surfaces, the Draft allows the part to release smoothly, reducing the likelihood of defects and production delays. Additionally, Draft enables manufacturers to produce high-quality, aesthetically pleasing products by minimizing the occurrence of unsightly marks and scratches during demolding.

Benefits of Incorporating Draft in Designs

Improved Mold Release: The most apparent advantage of using Draft is the improved mold release process. With Draft applied to the 3D model, manufacturers can effortlessly extract the part from the mold, resulting in higher production efficiency and reduced chances of damage.

Enhanced Aesthetics: Properly applied Draft can significantly enhance the visual appeal of the final product. By eliminating surface imperfections caused by friction during demolding, designers can achieve a smooth and flawless finish.

Cost Savings: By minimizing the need for manual intervention during the demolding process, Draft contributes to cost savings. Streamlining production and reducing labor requirements translate to a more cost-effective manufacturing process.

Maintaining Design Integrity: Designers often face the challenge of maintaining the intended design while ensuring manufacturability. Draft addresses this issue by allowing designers to uphold the original design’s integrity without compromising functionality or aesthetics.

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Applying Draft in SOLIDWORKS

SOLIDWORKS offers user-friendly tools for incorporating Draft seamlessly into 3D designs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply Draft in SOLIDWORKS:

To start, it’s a good idea to analyze your model to verify any existing drafts and their direction related to a neutral plane.

  1. View the Evaluate tab and select “Draft Analysis.”
    Draft Feature
  2. Choose the reference plane or planar face to define the parting line for the Draft analysis.
  3. Set the Draft analysis parameters, including the minimum draft angle required and the direction (inside or outside the model).

Once you select a plane, SOLIDWORKS will begin generating a visual representation of existing drafts on your model. These colors (which can be modified) highlight areas that meet the specified draft angle and those requiring adjustments.

  1. Select the green checkbox to exit the tool. The visual representation will continue to be overlayed on your model for reference.
  2. To remove the overlay, simply select “Draft Analysis” again from the Evaluate tab.
    SOLIDWORKS draft tool

At this stage, you may need to make necessary design modifications to areas where the Draft is insufficient or excessive; until the entire model complies with manufacturing requirements. Here is how to use the draft tool:

  1. In your Features tab, locate the “Draft” tool.
  2. Manually enter your parameters to select a Neutral Plane and add your desired draft angle
    • Using DraftXpert will allow you to “Auto Paint” after adding a draft to see a visual representation of your positive/negative drafts; just like the Draft Analysis tool.
    • DraftXpert also allows you to change drafts that you have added without leaving the tool.
  3. When selecting Faces to Draft, you can have SOLIDWORKS propagate faces that are tangent, inside, or outside using “Face propagation.”
  4. Select the Show preview checkbox to see a visual representation of the draft that is to be added!
  5. Once satisfied, select the green check.

It may be a good idea revisit the “Draft Analysis” tool after adding your drafts to verify the design.

solidworks draft feature

Tips for Effective Draft Utilization

To optimize the implementation of Draft in designs, consider the following tips:

  • Depending on the complexity of your model, it may be wise to manually add draft into your sketches rather than use the Draft tool. Remember to utilize the rollback bar in your feature tree to best address any issues that arise from modifying sketches.
  • Understand Manufacturing Requirements: Familiarize yourself with the manufacturing process and the properties of the materials to determine the appropriate draft angle for your specific design.
  • Utilize Variable Draft Angles: Different surfaces may require varying draft angles. Employing variable draft angles strategically can enhance manufacturability while preserving functionality and aesthetics.
  • Test with Prototypes: Before finalizing the design, create prototypes to assess the effectiveness of the Draft angles and identify any potential issues. Prototyping allows for refinement and adjustments before full-scale production.

Draft is a powerful tool in SOLIDWORKS that significantly influences the manufacturability and quality of designs. By incorporating the right amount of Draft, designers can streamline the production process, reduce costs, and enhance the functionality and aesthetics of products.

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Joe Perera

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