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Splines are the ultimate freeform curve tool. Smooth flowing shapes and wild curves are the results. However, be careful. Splines are very difficult to relay on drawings and manufacturing is more of an issue. Sometimes the best choice is to use a spline as a layout sketch for traditional arcs to get the best of both worlds. Let's take a look at some of the tools within the spline command. Up here under spline we've got several different options we can use. We have the regular spline, we have the style spline, spline as surface, and equation-driven curve. We're only going to focus really on the spline and style spline in this movie.
So style spline, I'm going to choose one of these planes. I'm going to choose the top plane. Let's go ahead and zoom in on that plane and take a look at the tool. So a spline is created between multiple points, so I'm going to start with one point here. And my next point will be here. The next point will be here and then finally point will be here. And notice that spline continues on. Wherever the endpoint is controls the rest of the behavior of how that spline is. If I move things around, it adjusts everything. When you're done creating that shape, go ahead and hit Esc and then you have a defined spline.
So notice you have a starting point, you have an ending point, and then you have a couple of other points here that control the shape of the spline. Notice if I click on either one of these points, I get these two little arrows going in both directions. What that means is, the effect, it's the direction vector. So I can grab one of these things, and I can move it around to adjust that spline. Or I can pull, make it longer or shorter. Which gives the amount of force it has on controlling the shape of the spline. Same thing over here. So I can make that bigger. Do the same thing over here. I can move things around, I can change the angles, and notice that as I change one, it changes the entire lines, that are all connected together.
Sometime it's going to be a little bit more complicated when you start dealing with splines and how much control they have over things, so you might want to really adjust this. Generally the best splines have fewer lines. Because notice, as you start moving these around, things start getting a little bit strange. Reactions of what happens when you start moving things too much. So really keeping track of what you're working with in the spline is important. And don't add too many points because sometimes it makes it a little more complicated. Once you have a shape, you can also right-click on that shape, and there's all these spline tools here. You can add tangency control, curvature control.
You can add points, you can simplify the spline. You can do all these different things here, so it's really complicated, and has a lot of power. You can really control this quite a bit when you're working with the spline. You can also, if you click on the spline here, you can maybe show the curvature, showing you how that shape looks. You can adjust how that is reflected on the screen, you can control the density of how many lines are showing up there. And put that, go ahead and turn it off. That way you can move things around, and it will show what they look like on the screen. When you're happy with that, click OK.
I'm going to go ahead and delete this spline now. Click on that and hit delete. And we're going to show you the second type of spline. So under spline, I'm going to go to style spline. In this case here, what it is is more of a controlled polygon style of spline. And I can choose a couple different straight line segments which then defines the shape of the spline. When you're happy with it, click Esc, and then I can grab the points of that control polygon to move things around. Makes it a little bit easier to work with on the spline because I can just drag these straight line segments or these lines around here to adjust the spline, and it's a little bit easier to control.
When you have a segment like that and you're happy with it, that's great. One word of caution though on splines is they're very hard to define. There's no real arcs here, I can't add a dimension. There's nothing I can dimension to, it can give me a length of it but that's about it. So how do we define this, how do we relay this on maybe a drawing in the future or on a part we're actually going to be building? And that becomes the major difficulty. So here's one work around for that. If you go ahead and exit out of that sketch, those who get sketch number three in the feature tree. Now what I want to do is choose that same plane that I was just working on, which is the top plane, insert a brand new sketch on top of that plane.
So now it's going to be called sketch four. And what I want to use now is a regular arc segment. So I'm just going to go ahead and choose the three point arc. And I'm going to start my very first arc, and I'm just going to snap it to that spline, and we get it really close. Then I'm going to switch over to the tangency arc, start from that end point, and I'm just going to basically try and overlay some small arc segments right on top of that original spline, and get them as close as I can to the same look as we had when we were creating the spline. Now, this is pretty quick to do, and you know, depending on the curvature, you might add several or maybe you only need a few.
Let's go ahead and just add a couple more and control that whole spline. So now what I have here is a very definitive amount of individual arcs that go ahead and make up that spline. They're all tangent to each other, so it's a nice smooth arc. But these can actually have dimensions. So I can add a radius for each one of these. And define the shape and size of it. I can define the start and end point of each one of these line segments, again defining that shape so if I ever want to make a drawing of this thing, I can dimension every single one of the points and every one of the radiuses of those arcs. Splines have many great features and are wonderful for smooth curves and complex shapes, however use them with caution.
Dimensioning, defining and building parts. Design with splines can be very complicated.
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