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SolidWorks Tutorial 22: Reference Plane or Plane Feature in SolidWorks

The Solidworks is one of the best 3D solid modeler which provides better experience to make 3D models. One of the important and most useful reference geometry feature tool is that “Reference Plane or Plane”. In this SolidWorks tutorials post, you are going to see how to create a reference plane or plane in Solidworks graphics interface and its application or uses.

What is SolidWorks Reference Plane (Plane Feature)?

You know about the basic planes such as Top plane, Right plane and Front plane contained in sketch area. Whenever you want to create new design using the Solidworks, you are starting from creation of part file and by opening sketch area you are doing the basic drawing using sketch tools and apply extrude boss/base feature to add material into it.

After that you need to add additional material having a certain distance away on earlier created part model (say, reference to model), then the basic planes available in sketch area is not helpful. For creating reference geometry, Solidworks provide new plane tool called “Reference Plane or Plane Feature”.

Reference plane is feature tool which help to create plane parallel, perpendicular, coincident or angle to selected plane or face etc. It also helps to create planes making Solidworks assembly documents.

Let us see how to use Reference Plane in Solidworks cad program.

How to Create Reference Plane SolidWorks

Step 1: Create Part File

Open the Solid Works and New part File. If you don’t know it, read how to create new part File. Select the Plane (e.g. Top Plane) and normalize using the “Normal To” Button.

Also create rectangular 3D solid box using rectangle sketch tool and extrude boss feature which is shown below. When you are going to practice it, you can use it with proper dimesion to rectangle using Smart Dimension tool.

solidworks reference plane or plane feature tutorial 3d rectanglur box screenshots 1 1024x546

Step 2: Select Reference Plane

You can select the “reference plane” in two way; one from the features command manager and other from the insert menubar.

From Features Command manager

Go to features command manager and find the “Reference Geometry” and click on the down arrow using your mouse pointer. Then you can see the “Plane” option at the first in the drop down drag menu. Click on it to select it.

solidworks reference plane tutorials select refernce plane option from solid works features command manager step 2 1 1 1024x576


From Insert Menubar

solidworks reference plane tutorials select refernce plane option from solid works insert menubar step 2 2

Go to “Insert menu” in the Solidworks menubar and click on it. Then you will see drag drop down menu; from that select “reference geometry” and you can see side drop down menu and click on the “Plane” option.

Step 3: Reference Plane or Plane Property Manger

Then the “Reference plane property manager” just appears beside of your 3D solid box, which is shown marked in the below image.

solidworks reference plane tutorials plane property manager shown beside the 3d box step 3 1 1024x576

Inside the property manager, you can see the “First Reference, Second Reference and Third reference” options. Each reference helps to create the planes according to your face or edge or point selection as you needed.

The “Second and Third Reference” uses only when to define plane, if it’s necessary.

Note: All you need to ensure that your combination of reference and constraints given are true and fully defined. You can try various combinations of reference face or constraints by looking into “message” section in the property manager. After selection, it shows “Fully defined”,  you can create that reference plane on the part file.

I am going to show you, how it works in 3d box given above image.

Plane using First Reference:-

Click on any face of the 3D box to create plane parallel to it. Here I was clicked on the top face of the box and plane is created with offset = 10mm which is shown below.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create plane using first referance offset 10 mm parellell stp 3 2 1024x576

You can also create parallel lot of planes with set offset distance by changing the “number of planes to create” section which marked below.

solidworks reference plane tutorials create number of planes parelle step 3 4 1024x626

Using the “First Reference” alone you can create “Coincident” (offset to selected plane =0 mm) and set offset to any number to create which is shown above.

Related SolidWorks Tutorials:-

Create Plane using Second Reference:-

It is uses when you have to define the references and constraints to create plane such as midplane, angle to edge, create plane diagonally with opposite edges of 3d box etc.


You can also create “Midplane” by clicking on the button or select the top and bottom face of the 3D box which shown below.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create midplane between two faces of 3d rectangular box 1024x607

Create Plane Angle to Edge (same as midplane)

For that select to faces adjacent to edge. In this tutorial “Face-5” as First reference and “Face-4” as second reference which is shown below.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create plane using first and second referance to angle plane to edge 1024x652

Create Plane Diagonally using Opposite Edges of Box

Select the “Edge-1” as First reference and “Edge-2” as second reference to create plane diagonally to rectangular 3D box.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create plane using first and second referance duagonally to edges of 3d box 1024x616

Just like that you can create any plane angle to edges by selecting the opposite edges shown below.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create angled plane using first and second referance usimg opposite edges 1024x600

Create Plane using Third Reference:-

You can also create diagonal plane in rectangular box using the first, second and third references. Select the Opposite vertex or corner points of the box and click on the top face of the box. It will create diagonal plane like as shown in the figure.

solidworks plane feature tutorial create diagonal plane using first second and thrid referance usimg opposite edges 1024x565

I think you guys got an idea about how to use Solidworks reference plane feature to create reference geometry.

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If you have any doubts or suggestions, feel free to use the comment box below the post and thank you friends.

  1. dhananjay
  2. uthaya sankar
    • Tonasam

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