Parametric CAD Sketch Design using Alibre
Welcome, this tutorial is based on
Design version 12.1. For any additional information such as installation,
registration or upgrading, Please contact CADDIT.net via email. In
Australia a free trial
download for Alibre Design Professional is available
As you start up Alibre Design, you
will note that there are 5 large icons which appear on your home page of
Alibre Design. The icons from left to right are as follows. The first icon
is the primary part window which automatically loads up a new part’s window.
This is where designing of your part starts from 2D sketch to 3D extruding
and cutting. The second icon is for sheet metal design. Here you will be
able to create sheetmetal designs from making flanges, die pressing and
flattening the pattern. The Third icon direct the user to an assembly window
where previous design parts can be fitted together with set constraints to
orientate the parts in the desired manner. The Forth icon is the billing of
materials, this is where a list of materials and parts required for your
assembly can be calculated based on your inputs in your parts and assembly
designs. Finally the fifth (last icon) is your drawing window. This allows
for the user to introduce their designs in part form or assembly to be laid
out into a technical drawing sheet. You may note that by running your cursor
over the icons, a description of each of the icons function is listen on the
bottom of the appropriate icon. Also that are two additional small icons
above the parts icon. These icons allow for the opening and importing of
files into Alibre Design.
Now viewing the main window that
Alibre has opened up for us, the following image has been labelled
accordingly to help us navigate through window in which the designing
process will take place.
The drop menus are the
list of menus in which you can find various commands to 2D, 3D sketching,
features and dimensioning options to use in Alibre Design as well as the
various functions of editing, viewing and controlling your designs that you
will be working with. The Insert, Sketch,3D sketch and features menus are
the most commonly used drop menus to gain access to the different designing
function at your disposal with Alibre Design.
As we go down further in the image from the drop
menus, there are list of icons where are all shortcuts various and commonly
used functions in Alibre Design. This is known as the toolbars. Here you can
save, create, orientation, views and other various design feature functions
as well. Note that the Toolbars can be customised accordingly to be either
shown or hidden under the drop menus or on the right hand side of the
window. To do this right click where the toolbar is and select the
appropriate toolbars you require. Orientating the toolbars is a simple
matter of dragging and dropping as the toolbars snap into position. Note
that the toolbars on the right hand side are shortcuts to the 2D and 3D
sketch features which can be used in the designing process.The left hand
side of the window is occupied with the design explorer. This is a very
integral part of the designing process of model part since that it shows all
the feature changes of the design as well as the orientations which are
saved by the user. Note this were changes to the features can be edited here
as well as hide to show specific areas of the design. Next is the work area
which occupies majority of the space in which the designing of the part will
take place. At the very bottom of the window is where the message bar is
located. The message bar will tell you of your progress of saves and
regeneration of the design.
2D Sketching in Alibre Design
Before starting out into sketch mode, Alibre Design has specific parameters
which need to be setup at the beginning of each model design to ensure that
the materials, and unit system used is correct. Note that this process also
removes the additional steps when moving your 3D design over to drawing
layout. This is done by going to the drop menu of file >Design properties.
Here a dialogue box like the following will appear. Note that the tabs on
the top will allow you to select the various different options in Alibre
Design such as Units used, Material used in the design, how dimensions are
to be displayed as well as the part name and information on it
In the work area, you have noticed
that there are large square with and XY inscription on the top right hand
corner. This large square is known as a plane in which face you will be
drawing your design on. As you can see also there are two lines forming a
cross through the middle of the square with a small crosshair in the very
middle where these line intersect. These lines are your axis in which your
design will be oriented on. Note that there are three axis X,Y and Z as well
as three planes as well XY, YZ and ZX. One the first right hand side
toolbar, on the top has an icon in which you can switch between 2D mode and
To start drawing or sketching your
primary part start by clicking on this icon and a dialogue box will appear
with options of drawing grid settings. When you are satisfied with the
settings provided or have entered click apply and the plane you want to work
in. The plane will snap in position and you can start drawing your 2D sketch
for your design.
As mentioned previously in this
tutorial, the right hand toolbars are set for 2D and 3D feature Shortcuts
for the user to use in their design quickly and effectively. Note that there
are tutorials available to explain how each function works. The help files
can be found on the last option on the drop down menu or alternatively you
can press F1 for the help menu. In this tutorial, we will be looking at a
few of the features, where people get confused in using.
Constraints is a concept which many people who start out in learning how to
use CAD software difficult. The concept for constraints in CAD systems are
limits or rules set by the user to limit a specific part of the design. This
can include the size, shape, orientation or any other relationships with
other 2d sketches or 3d models. Constraints in Alibre design can be added
very readily and can be manipulated to be able to design so that the figure
itself matches the required constraint.
Here are the list of possible constraints which Alibre has to
Fixed constraint -
This fixes or locks the 2d figure into its orientation and position in the
sketch area. If this constraint is applied to the 2d figure, the
figure can not be edited nor moved from its location. To move or adjust the
figure again, the fixed constraint must be removed first.
Vertical constraint -
This constraint forces all lines or nodes be vertically aligned. This can
be applied to any two lines to make them vertically constrained or nodes as
well in the sketch figure.
Horizontal constraint -
Similar principle to the Vertical Constraint, but inversely horizontally.
Intersection constraint -
Allows for more than one figure to intersect with one another at a point in
the sketch area.
Symmetric constraint -
This constraint forces any line or shape to have the same aspect and length
as the previously selected line or figure. Example of this is two uneven
lengths on a box figure. By highlighting a smaller side of the box, the
symmetric constraint will force the the large line to be redrawn to the same
equal length as the highlighted line. Constraints only work if they are
highlighted in the correct manner.
Coradial constraint -
Figures can be constrained if they have the same centre point as well as the
same radius. This constraint can be applied to circles and arcs.
Concentric constraint -
Figures can be organised into concentric circles if they are constricted to
share the same centre point. The concentric constraint can be applied to not
only circles but arcs as well.
Co linear constraint -
This constraint make sure that all the figures that are selected remain in
the same line. Lines can be constrained in a Co-linear Fashion as soon as
they are drawn by the user automatically.
Coincident constraint -
This constraint make sure that the selected point is constrained to lie
within in the figure selected. This constraint can be applied to any point
within a figure.
Midline Constraint -
As its name suggest that a Point node can be Fixed into a position where it
lines in the middle of the line. this can be applied to lines, circles and
arcs as well within the sketch area.
Equal Constraint -
Figures can be constrained to have equal size on their edges to one another.
This can be applied automatically within the sketch design as the
lines are drawn in by the user.
Tangent Constraint -
Constraint allows for a Selected Circle to form a tangent with another line
that is selected afterwards and will resize the radius of the circle to form
Perpendicular Constraint -
Lines within the figure can be constrained with this function to allow them
to form Perpendicular angles with the previous selected line. This can be
applied to lines and Circles as well as circular arcs.
Parallel Constraints -
This creates a parallel constrain in the selected figure its edges. this can
only applied to lines.
Applying these Constraints can be
done by selected the Option made available on the right toolbar. By
selecting the desired constraint, and the applying to the two edges or
figures that is required will apply the constraint. To remove, simply by
selecting the constraint icon on the figure itself on the sketching area
with the selection icon and pressing delete.
feature very easy to use and will be required later if you want to edit
various dimensions of the Model that you are creating. It will also allow
for you to create and resize your model in various parts that are required
to do so. To enable this feature, you will need to make sure you have setup
your Properties settings for the model design. Please refer to the first
page for this information. Now there are three way to do this, firstly by
right clicking and going to the dimensions. This will enable the Dimension
icon to be enabled and click the side you want the dimensions for, or the
two points where you want to show the dimensions for. Note the dimensions
will not be shown in 3D sketches, since that you can use the 3D Measurement
tool. It is wise to be using this Feature on various areas that you will be
requiring a lot of editing or changes to the design. The second method you
can use alternative is that you use the side toolbar to access the dimension
icon. here you will be able to select the side u need the measurements for
and placing the measurement in an appropriate area. Now with The dimensions
Box opening up like the one below here, you are free to edit the dimensions
on the sides of your model to fit specifications required. And with the same
way, you can come back and reedit the dimensions here as well.
Now there is another way in which you
are able to adding dimensions without having to go through the whole process
manually and adding the necessary dimensions on the figure itself. By going
into the 2D sketch function and then selecting the Auto dimension Function,
this will create multiple dimensions on the figure that is required.
The third method was introduced into Alibre Design Version 12, make the
dimensioning system faster and efficient. This is known as Real time
dimensioning. This option needs to be enabled before it can be used. This
will enable for any 2D feature to be draw at it first point, a dialogue box
for the dimensions will appear allowing you to define it as your draw.
Alibre Design comes pre configured
with a set of shapes which can be used in the design sketch. there are two
Options in which this Option to be accessed. The first way you can do this
is through the right hand side sketch toolbar. Then select the sketch the
shape Option which should look something similar to the image above. Another
way to access this Option is by going to the sketch menu on the top of the
window and selecting Shape Option there and then selecting the specific
shape that is required. There are 7 different shapes in which can be used
within your design. To apply any of the shapes simple click in the sketch
space and then edit accordingly to the shape that is to be used.
Circle, Square -
very straightforward in applying the shape into the sketch. The diameter can
a value and adjust to fit the specifications that are required. Same with
the square instead of the diameter, the length of the side needs to be enter
to complete the sizing of the shape.
Oblong, Rectangle -
There are three dimensions here which are required to filled in for the
shape to take form. The Diagram on your left will instruct where the sides
dimension that is to be modified by the user. XL dimension is the long side
of the oblong shape, YL gives the the dimension for the depth of the shape
and A is the degree that the shape is tilted in a clockwise position. For
the rectangle it is the same procedure.
Rectangle with R corner shape -
This method is pretty much the same as the rectangle and oblong. The
dimensions are need to be placed in their appropriate fields. The only
difference is that that there is an additional field where the radius of the
rounded corner. This needs to be field in before the shape is adjusted to
the correct field.
Single and Double D Shape -
Same as the oblong and rectangle. The curve of the shape is determined by
the difference of the length and the depth of the shape.
Now there is additional Options which are given with each of these shape
placements as seen in the previous images above. There is a Set pattern
which is available for the repetition of the shape through the sketch. By
selecting any of the other patterns besides the single will open up
additional Options based of the pattern layout. These include:
As the name suggest, the shapes will be placed in a linear fashion. With
additional Options such as pitch which will determine the space between each
of the shapes that are placed down in a linear fashion. The Pattern angle
and determine the orientation of the linear curve. Also the number of the
shapes within the figure can also be edited as well.
The pattern that the name suggest is that the laying out the pattern in a
arc like fashion. The distance from a centre point can be changed as well as
the number of the shape can be edited similarly to a linear fashion. The
difference between the two is that the starting angle which can be
prescribed and the pitch of the angle which is the next positional angle of
the next Shape in the arc pattern. All the values are related with lettering
next the description of each Dimension Field.
Same as the Arc Pattern, but can be orientated differently based on
the starting angle of the first shape. This will result with a staggered
circular start as shown here with the difference of the two.
Grid - This pattern commonly used if
required multiple areas with the same shape and can be edited later to fit
the prescribed design. There are multiple fields which are assigned key
letters which will help orientate the pattern for the shape to be assigned
to as shown in the following diagram.
Adding 2D Fillets and 2D Chamfer
By adding a Fillet to a model will remove a corner and replace with a
rounded corner where as Chamfer will just remove the corner itself with just
a straight line as shown here. To apply any of these Options by selecting
the feature through the right sketch panel or through the 2D sketch Option.
Once selected, highlight the required corners for the adding or either the
fillets or the chamfers. Click okay to apply the function.
Offsetting a Sketch
Offsetting will allow for the model to draw a smaller model
of itself within the sketch itself. The distance in which the offset is
performed can be altered as in the offsetting menu box. To apply, select the
function, highlight the areas in model required for the offsetting and then
put in a value for the offset.
A note to remember is that the offsetting function will not
work if the offsetting model has small feature within itself and having very
little space of the offset to be shown in the model. Example can be seen
Mirroring as the name suggest, will allow you to create a
mirror of the sketch in 2D. This function is also available to be done in 3D
mode as well. The only requirement for the Mirroring is that a plane must be
next to the model or sketch itself as shown here. To add planes, simple
select the insert plane Option on the top toolbar or Insert menu and go to
insert plane. Select the required face and set a distance of the plane if
desired. Once completed click okay and a plane will be made parallel to the
face model. Then you can mirror the model by selecting mirror Option and
then the plane in which you want to form the mirror on ( most likely the
plane nearest to the face which you created earlier). If you look at the
drawing screen you should be able to see the projected mirror model.
To do this in 2D mode with a sketch,
you need to create an axis in which the model can be mirrored off. To do
this, select create Axis and the highlight the edge in which the sketch
would like to be mirrored off. Once completed select okay. Next go to the
mirror Option and fill in the correct parameters. Finish by Clicking okay
and the Sketch should mirror.
Working Around Design Explorer
As you progress through Alibre
Design, you will start to take note that design Explorer is tracking all the
changes made to the model and keeps tabs on where you are working at as well
as what area in the model design that you are looking at as well. If look
closely to the Tree diagram, will note that most of your work will be
located under feature, with all the changes as well as the functions that
your have applied to the design listed there. Now for people who would like
to use Alibre design to correct previous design, by selecting the name of
the model or design and then right clicking, an Option for colour properties
should be available. Select the Colour Properties and this will give the
designer the Options to change the colour of the model, edges, the opacity
(transparency of the model) and reflectivity (how much light is reflected
off the model). By using the transparency bar, you can make the model fade
out of view to show other moving parts in the design which will covered in
the next tutorial.
This is part of Alibre Design were you can go back and edit
various parts of the design model and see it take effect across the entire
design. Simple by selecting one of the features or the sketch designs, right
click and select edit to change the size shape or even the whole design of
that specific part. Now provided that you have ensured the use of the the
Analyse function and it has come back with no problems found, by pressing F5
or go to feature and select regenerate All function, this will tell the
program to take all the changes made and remake a previous model with all
the new changes.
Another Option which can be useful for redesigning parts of
your model is the suppression function. This will force that part of the
model disappear from the drawing window which allows you to force on the
specific area where the changes are needed. Take note that the feature of
the suppression can be removed by right clicking the part and then
un-ticking the suppression Option. Parts can be suppress automatically by
simply by double clicking the previous feature, but this doesn't allow for
selectively suppress different features. this method will suppress
everything else between the previous items between the most recent to the
selected feature which was double clicked.
Rescaling the model
of the model as it name suggest is to keep the model the way it is in a much
larger size desired based on the needs of the designer. Now to do this,
there are two ways. One is by going to the Features Menu or by going to the
toolbars on the right and selecting the scaling icon as shown here. Now once
you have open up scaling you will notice that there are few Options here.
The scale factors are based of decimals as 1.0 is being 100%. Now by going
to to 1.1 in retrospect, will increase the size of the model by additional
10%( 110%). Now you can change any of the these factors in the x, y and z
axis. Note that if you change only of these factors alone, e.g X = 1.0,
Y=1.1 and Z= 1.0, then everything in the y axis will gain the 10% increase
in size and skewing your model in the y axis.
However if you want to change the model in proportions that
the is currently in, select Uniform and the Options for the X, Y, Z scales
should disappear and only allow for one scale factor field. Now on the very
top of the scaling window, there is a field for scale type. There are only
two scale types available. The first one will scale from origin which is the
true origin in the drawing area itself. the second Option will give a scale
from centre of the model which is the centre of the model itself.