Understand SOLIDWORKS modeling errors and fix them with no difficulty

By Jorge Villacres on

Have you ever encountered an error during your modeling process and can’t pinpoint where things went wrong? Or maybe you made a simple adjustment to one of your sketches, and suddenly many errors appear, and features stop rebuilding. If that is the case, then this blog is for you. This is the first part of a blog series that will teach you how to deal with SOLIDWORKS modeling errors and streamline your reviewing process.

SOLIDWORKS’ Settings: First, we will examine how SOLIDWORKS behaves when encountering an error.

Navigating to Tools > System Options > Messages/Errors/Warnings, we can choose to have SOLIDWORKS display the errors every time when the part is rebuilt. Additionally, we can choose to prompt a message after every encountered error, stop the rebuilding process at each error or continue the complete rebuilding process. Finally, we can display the Feature Manager tree warnings, hide or show only the top-level warnings.

SOLIDWORKS system options - messages, errors and warnings.

Error messages

Now that the settings have been addressed, we can look at the error messages. A “What’s wrong” prompt will appear, displaying the errors encountered in the part building process. The order of the errors can be organized by clicking on the top tabs of the prompt.

error message in solidworks

We can also observe the features that contain errors in the design tree. Three different types of error icons exist and provide us with additional information.

Top-level error: This icon appears next to the part name at the top of the tree and shows that the part contains an error in its tree. Moreover, when this icon appears, the feature’s text turns red.

Error: This icon appears next to a feature that cannot be executed due to inconsistencies. Moreover, when this icon appears, the feature’s text turns red.

Warning: This icon appears next to a feature that, even though has a problem, was able to be re-constructed. When this icon appears, the feature’s text turns yellow.

Spotting the errors

SOLIDWORKS rebuilds features from the top of the feature tree. Therefore, a great strategy to narrow down the possible mistakes is to place the rollback bar after the first error icon. This will rebuild the part to that feature so we can isolate and focus on the feature containing the mistake.

A common mistake when using a contour in a feature is having extra geometry outside the contour. This could occur after deleting previous geometries and leaving a small line or point of the previous sketch.

The zoom-to-fit command is a powerful tool to help us find the extra geometry. We can activate this command by pressing the “F” key on our keyboard. If you notice that the window does not perfectly fit your sketch, there must be a geometry you must find and delete within the display window. The following image shows an example of this command being used to find a small line left from a previous geometry.

after zoom to fit
Before zoom to fit


rectangle with measurements
After zoom to fit

On the other hand, a small gap in a sketch could cause an open contour which would also prevent you from executing many commands. To find these gaps more efficiently, activate the magnifying glass by hitting the “G” key on your keyboard. In the following image, the magnifying glass is employed to find a small line segment in the corner of the square, which prevents this geometry from being extruded.

rectangle with circle around corner

This concludes our first look at how to solve design problems in SOLIDWORKS by understanding SOLIDWORKS modeling errors, but we are just getting started!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks to see how we can use even more SOLIDWORKS tools to correct our parts faster.