SOLIDWORKS 2018 brings a number of enhancements to working with graphics bodies in SOLIDWORKS, which are documented in this blog and companion video. Graphics bodies result from importing a mesh file type into SOLIDWORKS. Mesh file types such as .OBJ or .STL are most commonly associated with 3D printing and 3D scanning, but may also come from other modelling software.
As graphics bodies represent tessellated geometry (a simplified representation made up of a mesh of triangles), historically they could only be used for limited visual reference. If even basic reverse engineering from the graphics body was desired, it typically required the use of an add-in such as ScanTo3D.
Now in SOLIDWORKS 2018 sketch entities can reference the mesh directly, allowing the ability to “sketch over” the mesh for manual remodeling or taking key measurements.
Other enhancements to graphics bodies are more usability related, such as the ability to reorient the graphics body using the Move/Copy Body feature (available under Insert -> Features -> Move/Copy).
It’s also worth noting that if it’s desired to modify or otherwise work with a mesh file in its native mesh format (perhaps for preparation for 3D printing) SOLIDWORKS 2018 enables a new “Mesh modeling” workflow, detailed in a separate blog and video, that can be very useful.