2 Ways to Reference a Cross-Section in SOLIDWORKS

Article by Jackie Yip on Jan 21, 2022

Have you ever needed to pull a cross-section of a solid with the ability to trace it? SOLIDWORKS has two tools that simplify this task:

  1. SOLIDWORKS Slicing tool
  2. Intersection Curve

In this article, we'll look at both options and distinguish the differences between the two. 

Below is an example of a part where we need to create a reference of the cross-section profile to design the spoke to the rim. The outer rim has been already designed, and the inner, solid body will fuse with the spoke afterward to create the counterbore holes. 

Reference Cross-section in SOLIDWORKS Tutorial

#1. Using the SOLIDWORKS Slicing Tool 

The SOLIDWORKS Slicing Tool allows users to choose any plane as a reference and also choose the boundary to capture an area from within. Once finished, a new 2D Sketch of the enclosed thickness is generated. The boundary that’s visible acts as a filter that will capture all faces touching the boxed area. The SOLIDWORKS Slicing Tool also allows the addition of multiple planes but, in this example, just the right plane will do the trick.


Here we’ve chosen the plane where the intersection should be located. Checking the intersection box will allow the creation of the sketch. There's also the option to either drag the bounding box or enter the values to determine the boundary to capture.

Reference Cross-sections in SOLIDWORKS using the Slicing Tool

When finished, a new 2D of the intersection will be created as a reference. The sketch will stay linked to the original geometry, whereas if the model geometry updates, so does the sketch that was created by the SOLIDWORKS Slicing Tool.

Create References in SOLIDWORKS Using Slicing Tool

#2. SOLIDWORKS Intersection Curve

The Intersection Curve option in SOLIDWORKS offers a similar result, whereas multiple surfaces are selected individually. Unlike the Slicing Tool, all surfaces intersecting the plane will be projected, as opposed to just the area within the boundary. 

Intersection Curve Tool in SOLIDWORKS

Suggested Article >> SOLIDWORKS Intersection Curve Tool Explained

As with this example, we first created a new sketch on the right plane where the entities should intersect. Afterward, we selected the outer faces and a few of the inner surfaces to capture the necessary information. 

SOLIDWORKS Cross-sections Intersection Curve Option

The sketch created by the Intersection Curve has a few differences but also contains the same relative information captured by the Slicing Tool.

Intersection Curve Cross-sections in SOLIDWORKS

Creating the sketch profile & spoke feature

Once the profiles have been generated, either sketch can be used as a guideline for creating a spoke section. In this example, we chose the intersection curve sketch; below shows a profile that uses a combination of sketch relations and splines. Once done, the feature is generated and the rest of the spoke design can be carried out.

Create a Sketch Profile in SOLIDWORKS

Creating a Sketch Profile and Spoke Feature in SOLIDWORKS

Slicing Tool vs. Intersection Curve: Which method is better?

As far as which command is more versatile, both can achieve the necessary references. It’s noted that the Slicing Tool offers an advantage due to the boundary and the option to add additional planes for multiple intersections. However, its current limitation is that planes are the only reference that can be used. 

The intersection curve offers to ease of translating the entire surface boundary that crosses the plane. It can also do additional things like projecting intersections as a 3D sketch. 

GoEngineer YouTube Video How to Create Intgersection Curves For more, feel free to watch this video.

Why not just use the section view button?

While the Section View button is great for displaying the cross-section, it doesn’t offer the same versatility when it comes to referencing the model. As shown with the tools above, the information from the cross-section can be converted into visible sketches. Had we opted to work with the Section View command, some of the entities cannot be referenced or converted as easily as shown below.

SOLIDWORKS Section View Button

I hope you found this article helpful. To learn more about SOLIDWORKS, check out the additional tips and tricks listed below.

More SOLIDWORKS Tutorials

Favorite SOLIDWORKS Tips from Tech Support

Creating and Adding Weld Beads in SOLIDWORKS Models & Drawings

SOLIDWORKS: Creating Normal Cuts in Sheet Metal 

SOLIDWORKS: Splitting a Body into Multiple Parts

Missing Cosmetic Threads and How to Fix Them in SOLIDWORKS 



About Jackie Yip

Jackie Yip is a Technical Support Engineer at GoEngineer. When Jackie isn’t assisting customers or teaching a SOLIDWORKS Essentials class, he enjoys road biking and keeping up on the latest tech trends.

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