S. Casale

The Design Intent Thread

Discussion created by S. Casale on May 9, 2017
Latest reply on May 14, 2019 by Paul Salvador

I was requested to begin this thread and am inclined to do so as Design Intent is an important topic to discuss.


I like explain design intent as how a user will design something that others will be able to interpret, review, modify if needed, and use. This is best understand for use between the original design activity and current design activity (ASME terms). Perhaps we can quote SolidWorks' definition, "Design intent is how your model behaves when dimensions are modified."


For the sake of this forum we can discuss the topic in the envelope of SolidWorks.


Every different user has their own special blend, process, or workflow on design creation. Each organization may do it differently. An important part of this is consistency. I'd like the idea that we can consistently design our parts assemblies and drawings in a similar manner every time. This is simply not always so. Each and every part, assembly, and drawing is completely different, which is why they are there own independently.


  • When I am designing, my first thought is it's complete application - known as Function.
  • How do these parts work? Fit.
  • The materials, method, of how I should set up each part - known as Form.


In my opinion, here are a few rudimentary examples of bad design intent that I see often:

  1. Deciding that a part is going to be drawn upside down from the XY, when it doesn't need to be.
    • Orienting the part without defining it to the origin (this is done in sketches) - exception referenced modeling.
  2. A circular plate that will have holes and items mounted on it started as an extrusion with all of the holes in the same profile.
    • First of all, we aren't making wedding cakes. Revolve that piece.
    • Second, use the hole wizard for what it is. If you need to make a reference controlling sketch, fine, but define it in the feature tree.
  3. Modeling as if there are no datums that are important. If you dimension your sketch items differently than you do your drawing it ought to be a limitation of the software (as it is some times).


    Let's discuss your thoughts on Design Intent.


    Update: I in no way consider myself master of anything but the universe.