Z-Up Modeling in Solidworks


I’m trying to reset my part and assembly templates in Solidworks so that +Z is up (instead of the default of +Y) with +X as the front of the robot. I’m using the update standard views technique that can be seen in this video. He has Y+ as front, but the concept is the same.

This works great until I want to put a sketch on the front plane. This makes the sketch orientation turned 90 degrees from where I want it - by that I mean when you use the ‘Normal to’ view command on the sketch the Z+ (top of your robot) is now the left side of the screen and constraining a line to vertical actually ends up being horizontal in the sense of the robot (parallel to the XY plane). I know you can change view orientation easily using the Front view or clicking axis, but the more annoying part is the vertical and horizontal constraints being non-intuitive. This can be remedied with the command Tools -> Sketch Tools -> Modify and reorienting that individual sketch by 90 degrees. But it’s slow and I don’t want to have to do that for every sketch I make.

If that explanation wasn’t clear I’ve attached a picture of my axis. You can see the text for the Front Plane on the plane is oriented sideways. Solidworks wants where that text is to be the top left corner when I create a sketch on that plane.

Curious how other Solidworks users deal with this? Anyone else use Z-up?


I’ve thought about using Z-up in SolidWorks because it makes sense to me, but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. I defined a new coordinate system and I think the view planes worked themselves out. However, if you want moments of inertia, you have to select your new reference frame rather than the default one. You’ll still have the “wrong” vectors being shown in the lower left. See my attachment.

Z-Up Reference Frame.zip (23.3 KB)

Z-Up Reference Frame.zip (23.3 KB)


I’m on Solidworks 2015 until we get our new licenses for this season (should be any day now). Can you save a backwards compatible version?


Unfortunately I don’t think SolidWorks lets you. But basically, in a part/assembly (you can even do it with a part/assembly and save it as a template part/assembly), with the Features tab selected, go to Reference Geometry and select Coordinate Frame. (Sorry, screen shots are huge)


Then use the following settings:


The selected axis will be normal to the plane you select.