If you use Onshape a lot, you know that planes are the center of your universe. You need one to create a sketch, and since Onshape doesnt have 3d sketching, you always need to start a sketch with a 2D plane.

There are already lots of ways to create planes in Onshape, but I quickly found I wanted more. One example I ran into was creation of tangent planes on curved surfaces. Consider this situation:

There are already lots of ways to create planes in Onshape, but I quickly found I wanted more. One example I ran into was creation of tangent planes on curved surfaces. Consider this situation:

This is a simple shape with a draft on the side. I want to create a plane tangent to surface 1, parallel to plane 2. How can I do that? With stock Onshape, I need to follow these steps:

Phew! Really? Just to create a single plane? I'd like to be able to simply select plane 2, and surface 1, and create a plane tangent to the surface, and 'aligned' with plane 2. But what does 'aligned' mean?

If surface 1 were it a cylinder, 'aligned' would be easy to define: we want a plane tangent to the surface, and parallel with surface #2. But surface 1 is a cone. Here, we can define 'aligned' as a plane who's normal vector is only different than the reference plane in only one direction. Or, put another way-- the plane with normal vector as close as possible to the reference plane.

We created the Enhanced Planes add-in for Onshape to meet this need. Here it is in action

- Create a midplane between surfaces 3 and 4
- Create a sketch on that plane
- Draw a line on the sketch in a direction perpendicular to plane 2
- Project the draft surface onto the sketch, using the 'use intersections' tool
- place a vertex at the intersection of this curve and the line from step 3
- finish the sketch
- use tangent at point to create a plane on surface 1, at the vertex created in step 5

Phew! Really? Just to create a single plane? I'd like to be able to simply select plane 2, and surface 1, and create a plane tangent to the surface, and 'aligned' with plane 2. But what does 'aligned' mean?

If surface 1 were it a cylinder, 'aligned' would be easy to define: we want a plane tangent to the surface, and parallel with surface #2. But surface 1 is a cone. Here, we can define 'aligned' as a plane who's normal vector is only different than the reference plane in only one direction. Or, put another way-- the plane with normal vector as close as possible to the reference plane.

We created the Enhanced Planes add-in for Onshape to meet this need. Here it is in action

This is the desired result. Tangent plane in one step. Score.

Enhanced planes makes quick work of several other scenarios that are harder than they should be:

If you find these useful, give Enhanced Planes a try.

Do you have a scenario that creating a plane was harder than it should be?

If so, let us know!

Enhanced planes makes quick work of several other scenarios that are harder than they should be:

- Create a plane by selecting > 1 linear edge, or a single arc. This comes in handy when the edges were not defined in the same plane already
- Create a plane having a normal vector aligned with an edge tangent vector
- Create a plane tangent to a curved surface, and aligned with another reference plane. This saves about 4 steps using core product, where you need to create a plane and then use the intersection functionality to compute the point on the surface
- Create a plane tangent to a curved surface, at given surface parameters. This is handy when you want a tangent plane at the center of a surface
- Create multiple offset planes or midplanes. Core product allows creating a single mid-planes and offset planes, but sometimes I want to create a whole array, not just one.

If you find these useful, give Enhanced Planes a try.

Do you have a scenario that creating a plane was harder than it should be?

If so, let us know!