Addition to Thicken Command in SOLIDWORKS 2020: Defining Thicken Direction

SOLIDWORKS 2020 adds a very nice option to one of my favorite surface-to-solid tools, Thicken.

Thicken takes a surface body (which has zero thickness) and makes it a solid (making it a volume) by specifying a thickness value and side to thicken. Until now, the calculation was based on surface normal, which is often what you want. Now, though, we can specify a direction for the offset created by the Thicken command.

Consider the default behavior shown here:

Thicken Command Example, SOLIDWORKS

You can see in the preview that the thickness surface being created is normal to the faces of the surface we are thickening.

Now look at the preview we get when we specify a direction vector:

Face of solid body chosen as direction definition for Thicken feature

You can see in this preview the offset surface being made, but the Thicken command is normal to the selected planar face on the solid part (purple highlight), affecting both faces being offset from the surface body. This gives us a different solid than the default settings.

What if we select a different face of the solid to set the Thicken direction? We would get this:

Thicken Command Example, SOLIDWORKS

How about if we select a line from a sketch to be the Thicken direction vector?  

Line selected for Thicken direction - Face parallel to selected line

The examples above show a surface body with two planar faces. Here are a few examples of the same option when thickening a spline surface body:

Thicken Command Example, SOLIDWORKS

Thicken may not be a command you use every day, but when you need it, it is a valuable tool. While thickening normal to the surface selected is often the desired result, the option we now have to specify a direction vector adds even more power. Do you use Thicken? If so, drop me a line at I’d love to hear from you about how you use it!

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Meet the Author

John Setzer

John discovered his love of teaching early in life. He worked his way through college as a youth coach, umpire, and referee before earning his bachelor’s degree in Education. As Training Product Manager at GSC, he has been sharing his SOLIDWORKS wisdom with GSC customers ever since – over 20 years! As the only CSWE with a state certification in teaching, John is well-versed is teaching all types of learning styles.

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