Home » How to use Path Length Dimension in SolidWorks?

How to use Path Length Dimension in SolidWorks?

Sketching is the basis for any Solidworks 3-D model design, and a path comprises sketch entities that are end-to-end coincident, making a single chain. The Path length dimension is one of the most underutilized features in Solidworks Smart Dimension tools, and it gives a more accessible approach to measuring dimensions in Solidworks designs. The Path length dimension allows you to create a path in a sketch to specify the exact length of a model design, such as a chain, belt, or circular drawing. Dimension values obtained from the path length dimension, like all dimensions in SolidWorks, can be parametrically modified in various ways, including equations. Learning how to use path length dimension in Solidworks allows you to obtain the precise geometry you require without requiring complex equations or calculations. Using the Path Length Dimension tool also lowers the number of steps needed to measure a Sketch Path during dimension creation. You can use the Path length dimension to dimension the total length of a chain of sketch items. Assume you need to calculate the length of a wire or chain without knowing its shape. A sketch of various curves can be measured using the path length dimension. The propertymanager option displays when you pick the path length dimension under the smart dimension. You can select the sketches individually or with a box selection. When you’re finished, click the OK button.

How To Use Path Length Dimension In Solidworks

The path length dimension tool in Solidworks is used for assessing the dimensions of circular, curve-driven model designs. Making the sketch entities into a block is recommended but not required before utilizing the path length dimension. You can edit paths in the Path Properties PropertyManager. A chain of sketch entities can represent only one path. When you build a path, all the sketch entities in the path are selected simultaneously. Right-click the display area and select Other to choose a single sketch element in the path. You can also provide the path length.

You can make the dimension a driving dimension so that the path length resizes the dimension properly when you drag the entities. A path length dimension, for example, can drive a full sketch with relations or a combination of driven and driving dimensions linked by equations between the sketch elements. To learn how to use path length dimension in Solidworks, follow the step-by-step guide below. 

Step 1: To use Path Length Dimension, click on the smart dimension in the Command Manager and select Path Length Dimension from the drop-down menu, or after selecting the sketch, right-click it and choose Dimensions > Path Length.

Step 2: After selecting the path length dimension, Solidworks will show you the Path Length Property Manager, which includes a selection box. You can have as many sketch entities as possible in the path length dimension. You can select these individually, although Select Chain may be more convenient in the case of a belt or pulley. A select chain is available from the right-click menu on any sketch entity. It is an excellent method for selecting a group of connected sketch items, in this case, the full belt path. SolidWorks will add those sketch entities to the Path Length Property Manager’s selection box.

Step 3: Select the sketch entities that are end-to-end coincident and create a single chain in the graphics area. The two segments on the sketch to be measured appear after pressing the green check box (OK) button in the Property Manager, the right mouse button menu, or the Confirmation Corner in the upper right-hand corner. Solidworks constructs a path object from the specified geometry and includes the Path Length Dimension. This dimension can be either a driving dimension or a driven dimension, like most other dimensions in Solidworks. A measurement with a radial style appears and is connected to the path.

Step 4: You may adjust the path length dimension by double-clicking it and entering a new value in the Modify dialogue box as indicated in the image below. You can reference this dimension in custom properties, configurations, equations, or tables, including design tables and BOMs. 

Tips when using the Path Length Dimension in Solidworks

Tip 1: In some circumstances, you may have strict and precise position constraints for the pulleys or gears in a design and must instead calculate the length of the design model. Changing the value from driving to driven is helpful in this situation. In this situation, right-click on the Path Length Dimension and select Driven from the right-click menu. When you do this, the dimension becomes grey, and numerous sketch entities turn blue simultaneously, indicating that they are now “Under Defined.” To “re-define” the sketch, change the dimension along the top to the opposite.

Tip 2: When dimensioning a path that is not specified to be vertical or horizontal, or when dimensioning two points that are not limited, you will have the option of establishing a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal dimension, as indicated above. It is frequently inconsistent and can hop from one to the other by moving the mouse very slightly. To lock the measurement into the specified style, move the mouse to the desired style point and right-click. This method will allow you to place and construct the dimensions.

Tip 3: Using the Command Manager is not the only practical option. The first is to make use of mouse gestures. This feature is possible because Smart Dimension is a mouse gesture by default, regardless of whether your computer is configured for four or eight motions. Hold down the right mouse button and glide the mouse up. 

You can also use the ‘S’ key. When you press the ‘S’ key on your keyboard, basic commands for assemblies, parts, sketches, and drawings appear next to your cursor wherever it is in your graphics window. Finally, you may launch the Smart Dimension or any other dimension command by right-clicking anywhere in the graphics window.


Dimensioning can be a time-consuming part of any design project, but learning how to use path length dimension in Solidworks can make dimensioning a lot faster and easier.