Whenever we want to have custom shapes to be copied or traced, we use SolidWorks Autotrace. Instead of using splines or other methods of sketching, utilizing the feature of Autotrace enables us to automatically do our jobs for us. Long gone are the days of manual sketching. To use this Add-in, first we have to enable it. The navigation is as shown in the pictures below. Once we add it, now we can insert a sample image to trace it. That too is present in the SolidWorks part file.
Image 1: Add-ins
Image 2: Enabling Autotrace
Once you click ok, the add-in will enable. Next up we select a plane to sketch. Once in the sketch, we go to Tools-Sketch Tools-Sketch Picture. This will lead to the browse option. Now we browse for the picture we want traced. For this instance, we will look at an eagle logo which goes to show how much diversity this command offers. Anything you wish to 3D print or manufactured, the file can simply be converted to 3D using Autotrace. We insert the picture as shown in Image 4 below.
Now that the picture is in sketch, we can dimension it however we want it. We can make it small for getting a rough idea how it will look like after printing using multiple specimens or make a large one as a final product. After dimensioning, proceed to the next option as shown in the image with the arrow.
Image 3: Sketch Picture insert
Image 4: Sketch Picture Dimensions
The next step takes us to the Autotrace feature where we trace the image and get our logo. On the left side choose the dotted rectangle option to make a rectangle around where your logo or desired image outline is. Once you have done that, select begin trace. It is fairly straightforward. All the outlines will be traced through splines and you will get your logo within a few seconds.
Image 5: Autotrace parameters
Image 6: Autotrace selection rectangle
At this point, the one option or parameter which will benefit us in the accuracy or sharpness of the sketch, is the recognition tolerance option. Using this, we can slide how much accurate we want the sketch to resemble the original. Having selected all this, press ok. Now we have our sketch of the logo. We can extrude it to make it 3D.
Image 7: Autotrace adjustment
Image 8: Autotrace Sketch
Lo and behold, the eagle. Thanks for reading this tutorial. If you have liked our work and wish to benefit more, there are other articles on this website as well. Feel free to partake in this amazing learning experience with us. Until next time.
Image 9: Extruded 3D Logo
Step by step on how to youse Autotrace.
SolidWorks Autotrace is a useful add-in that allows you to convert 2D images (like JPG or PNG) into vector-based sketches, making it easier to create accurate, scalable drawings. To use Autotrace in SolidWorks, follow these step-by-step instructions:
Enable the Autotrace add-in:
a. Open SolidWorks.
b. Go to ‘Tools’ > ‘Add-Ins.’
c. In the ‘Add-Ins’ dialog box, locate ‘Autotrace’ and check both the ‘Active Add-ins’ and ‘Start Up’ boxes.
d. Click ‘OK’ to enable the add-in.
Import the image:
a. Open a new or existing part file.
b. Go to ‘Tools’ > ‘Sketch Tools’ > ‘Sketch Picture.’
c. Browse for the image file (JPG, PNG, or BMP) you want to trace and click ‘Open.’
d. Adjust the image size, position, and orientation using the ‘Sketch Picture PropertyManager’ as needed, then click ‘OK.’
Launch the Autotrace feature:
a. With the image placed on the sketch, click on the image to select it.
b. Go to ‘Tools’ > ‘Sketch Tools’ > ‘Autotrace.’
c. The ‘Autotrace PropertyManager’ will appear.
Configure Autotrace settings:
a. In the ‘Autotrace PropertyManager,’ adjust the ‘Brightness,’ ‘Contrast,’ and ‘Tolerance’ sliders to optimize the trace quality. The preview window will show the current trace results.
b. Choose between ‘Polygon’ or ‘Spline’ sketch entities for the trace output.
c. Optionally, check the ‘Smooth Image’ box to reduce noise in the image.
Apply the Autotrace:
a. Once you’re satisfied with the trace preview, click ‘Begin Trace.’
b. SolidWorks will generate the sketch entities based on the Autotrace settings.
c. Click ‘OK’ in the ‘Autotrace PropertyManager’ to exit.
Edit and refine the sketch:
a. Use standard sketch tools and relations to edit and refine the traced sketch as needed.
b. Close any open loops and ensure that the sketch is fully defined.
Extrude or perform other operations:
a. Once your sketch is complete, you can use it as a base for extruding, cutting, or any other modeling operation in SolidWorks.
Remember, the Autotrace feature works best with simple, high-contrast images. More complex images may require manual tracing or additional refinement after using Autotrace.