Creating Chain Patterns in SOLIDWORKS

With SOLIDWORKS, roller chains, energy chains and power transmission components can be simulated within an assembly document. In the video walkthrough above, we look at how to pattern components along an open or closed loop path with three different pattern options.

Let’s review the video.

In the first example shown, a mounting base must be patterned at regular intervals around an outlined path. To activate the chain component command, users can find a “Linear Component” dropdown menu under the “Assembly” command manager. Within the dropdown menu, select “Chain Component Pattern.”

Three types of pattern options can be used: “Distance”, “Distance Linkage” and “Connected Linkage.”

“Distance” is selected by default. Underneath these options, a “Chain Path” box should be visible. Selecting “Path,” the Selection Manager can be used to select only the closed loop portion of a sketch. The number of links or instances can be entered below the Selection Manager.

Selecting the mount base in the graphics area will pattern the component. This can be done in the “Chain Group 1” box.

If a user wanted to pattern a chain of components that were symmetrical about their link-pivot point, like a simple roller for example, using the Distance option would be recommended. When doing this, select the cylindrical face to define the path link reference and choose an existing component reference plane for the path alignment. After clicking OK, the rollers can be dragged along the outlined path.

What if a user needed the base to stay perpendicular to the chain path as it follows it? For this, it is recommended to use the “Distance Linkage” option. This allows a user to define two path link references to produce the desired behavior.

Selecting the two wheels of a base for their definitions, then selecting the components right plane for the path alignment, users should space the components equally before accepting changes. As seen in the video walkthrough, the chain pattern behaves just as desired.

The third chain pattern option, “Connected Linkage,” lets a user create a pattern of linked components, like a bike chain. To do this, start by selecting a chain path and then select the individual linked components, path links and path alignments. Select the number of links or components desired in the “Chain Path” box and accept your changes. The assembly will then behave as a linked chain.

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About Author

James Keller has over seven years of CAD and instructional design experience, with a primary focus on SOLIDWORKS 3D design software. A strong design background allows him to wear both the hats of Engineer and Designer at once.