If you’re a typical SOLIDWORKS user, you probably label yourself more as engineer or designer than a marketer. How much you deal with the product’s image, if any at all, also varies quite a bit. Even so, we all play for the same team, right? Odds are that someone does something in the way of adding decals to a product that’s getting ready to be moved out the door, but how can we flair it up in the modeling stages? Remember, we need 15 pieces of flair…
One way to style your products is to add your company’s logo to them. If you have familiarity with SOLIDWORKS’ appearance capabilities, then you might know how to add decals to your models. However, that would not be physical geometry. While SOLIDWORKS doesn’t have a feature especially just to emboss or deboss a logo, we can use a couple of the simplest tools to accomplish this: Boss Extrude and Cut Extrude, respectively.
The majority of the manual labor in creating your logo will likely come from setting up a sketch that mimics it, though there are some ways to expedite this. If we want an accurate representation in the end, we’ll want to begin with an image with as high of a resolution as possible. For this blog, I’ll of course be using our lovely Symmetry Solutions logo:
To turn this image into sketch entities, we have a few options. Ideally, we could leverage Adobe Illustrator or another application to convert the image to DXF entities, and bring those into a sketch. If such a tool is not available to you, SOLIDWORKS does its best to accomplish this on its own with the Autotrace add-in turned on. Autotrace gives some extra functionality to the Sketch Picture command by doing its best to trace outlines or select areas by color, using user defined tolerances.
Begin with a new sketch and use the Sketch Picture command (Tools > Sketch Tools > Sketch Picture) to insert your logo’s picture file. If Autotrace is turned on, a second page of the Sketch Picture PropertyManager will become available for you to create and manipulate your trace. This will produce mixed results depending on a lot of things: the image quality, color gradation, and complexity to name a few. Even after playing with the options for a bit, my results were a little underwhelming…
Perhaps you can use Autotrace to get you at least some of your entities, then modify that sketch to add/remove/edit things and more precisely mimic your logo. If not, all of the entities will need to be put in manually. I ditched my Autotrace result in favor of manually setting up a long spline that follows one half of the Symmetry logo. I then copied and rotated the spline (a symmetrical solution, if you will) to get the sketch below:
Stylizing your name (if it’s not already in your logo) may force you to use this same procedure for text. Alternatively, you might be able to find the font your company uses, and just use a note to create the text entities. The Symmetry Solutions logo uses a Brie font, which isn’t available in Windows by default -but after adding it into Windows, I made a note and sized it appropriately.
When you get your sketch set to the desired precision, you can then turn your 2D sketches into 3D features to be added into your models. As you may have noticed above, I added a couple more sketches to be able to represent the shadow our logo creates. I chose to emboss onto a simple test block, added a few fillets and some color, and got the following:
Lookin’ good! At this point, if our model was complete, we might move on to creating a drawing, and for many logos you may be limited by manufacturability. The ability to manufacture a part with a complex logo probably lends itself best to molding and stamping applications, and of course 3D printing as well. Ideally, this process would be done well and done once, so that the sketch can then be copied and pasted into future parts by anyone, and scaled on whatever face they desire. Of course, this procedure can be used for any image, but I think that creating an embossed or debossed logo really gives some panache and personality to your models!