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Lesson

120

Lesson Objective: In this lesson, we will learn about the Blend Feature.

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BLEND DEFINITION
A Blend feature creates a single feature by blending sections of varying size, shape, and orientation.
There are three types of blend features.

Parallel All sections are parallel to each other separated by a blind depth for each
section.

Rotational The sections are offset each other by an angle around a central axis of
revolution, and a distance along the axis itself.

General The sections can be rotated in the X, Y, or Z direction as you create them.
To create a blend feature, we must use the menu commands Insert, Blend, then select one of the
feature types shown in the following menu.

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As with the sweep feature, the method for creating a blend is very similar from type to type.

PARALLEL BLEND
To demonstrate the parallel blend, we will create a part called Parallel_Blend. We will start by
going to Insert, Blend, Protrusion. This brings up the following menu.

In the top portion of this menu, we are defining the type of blend we are going to create. We will
keep Parallel as the option. In the middle portion of this menu, we are defining how the section will
be handled. There are two options.

Regular Sec The section will be sketched on a plane or planar surface, and remain
there when blended together with the other sections.

Project Sec The section will be sketched on a plane, but it will be projected onto a
surface as part of the blend.
For now, we will keep the default option of Regular Sec as our choice. In the third section, we only
have Sketch Sec available. For a Rotational or General blend, we would have the ability to select

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sections instead of sketching every one.


Once we have all of the options picked, we will click on Done. We will now be placed into the
definition of the feature, and we see the following window.

We are currently defining the attributes, which are in the following menu.

There are two attributes to choose from: Straight or Smooth. If our blend feature only has two
sections being blended together, then this will make no difference. If our blend feature has three or
more sections, then a straight attribute connects them lienearly, almost like a connect the dot with
straight lines.
A Smooth attribute connects them as a spline would going through points. You get a continuous,
tangent edge from section to section. To start, we will keep Straight selected, and click on Done to
continue.
We are now prompted to select or create a sketching plane. We will select the TOP datum plane.
When we pick this plane, an arrow appears, as shown below.

Unlike all of the other times when we were asked to accept the direction of viewing the sketching
plane, we see the following prompt in the message window: Arrow shows direction of feature
creation. Pick FLIP or OKAY.

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We know we are still going to be looking at the TOP plane, but for a protrusion, the feature always
comes towards us in sketch mode, while for a cut, the feature always goes away from us in the
sketch. It will take a little getting used to, but eventually you will understand just how the sketch is
going to orient based on what you pick.
Therefore, click on Okay to accept the direction as up, then face the FRONT datum plane towards
the Bottom. We will now be placed in sketch mode.
We are going to sketch three rectangles to blend. We start by sketching the one that will eventually
lie on the sketch plane, as shown below.

I am taking advantage of symmetry by using two centerlines. That way I only need to use two
dimensions. I want to note where the start point is on this sketch. I will demonstrate why this is
important a little later. For now, we just want to make sure that the start point is in the upper left
corner for all three of our sketches.
Once I am done sketching this profile, I need to toggle to the next section using Sketch, Feature
Tools, Toggle Section. The first rectangle becomes grayed out, and I can start sketching my
second profile. The figure at the top of the next page shows this sketch with the second rectangle.

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Note how the start point on this rectangle is equivalent to the location on the first one. Now we are
ready to make our last rectangle. Once again, we will use Sketch, Feature Tools, Toggle
Section. Now both our rectangles are grayed out for us to sketch the third, as shown below.

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Once again, we are keeping the start point the same on all three. When we are finished with this
rectangle, we will accept the sketch. In the message window, we are prompted for the depth of
section 2. In other words, what is the blind depth between the sketching plane and the second
rectangle that we sketched. We will enter 8.0. We are then prompted for the depth for section 3.
This is the depth between section 2 and 3 (not the distance from the sketching plane to section 3).
We will enter 5.0. We are then back at the window, where we can click on OK to finish this feature.
The model looks like the following.

You can clearly see what the Straight attribute does, it makes sharp edges between sections. We
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will go to the model tree, right mouse click on this feature, and select Edit Definition to go back in
and redefine this feature.
We are placed back at the window where we see the different elements we defined. The first one
on the list is Attributes. If we double-click on this, we see the menu again where we originally
picked Straight. Now, this time, we are going to select Smooth, followed by Done, then click on
OK in the window to finish out the redefine. The model will regenerate, and look like the following.

This is quite a difference. Now, we have tangent edges going through the three sections. This
makes for a more pleasing part. Now, we will edit the definition of this feature again. When we see
the window pop up, we will double-click on section, followed by Sketch in the menu manager.
This will bring us back into the sketch, which now has the first rectangle active while the other two
are grayed out. We will turn off the display of dimensions and constraints using the icons in the
system toolbar for easier viewing of the sketch, as shown below.

We will toggle to the next section, and change the start point. To change the start point, click on a
different vertex to highlight it, the right mouse click and select Start Point. We want to use the next

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corner in a clockwise direction, as shown below.

Toggle to the third section, and change its start point to the one shown in the figure below.

Once we have changed this last start point, accept the sketch, and then click on OK from the
window to finish the redefine. The model will regenerate, and it should now look like the following.

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There is a twisting effect going on here. The start point location is used to define how the entities
are connected. Imagine that the sketch starts off by connecting all of the corners that have the start
point, then it goes to the next clockwise corner for each section and connects those, and so on.
This is how we got the twisting, because each section was connecting 90 degrees clockwise from
the previous one.

ROTATIONAL BLEND
A rotational blend takes advantage of a sketched coordinate system. Instead of sketching all the
profiles in a single sketch like we did with the parallel blend, we only sketch one, however, we must
include a coordinate system in each sketch to tie the sections together. This will make more sense
in the following demonstration.
We will begin by creating a new part called Rotational_Blend. Once inside, we will go to Insert,
Blend, Protrusion from the menu bar. When the first menu comes up, we will pick on the following
options: Rotational, Regular Sec, and Sketch Sec. This will bring up the following window.

We are currently defining the attributes. In addition to Straight and Smooth which we had in the
parallel blend, we have two other choices: Open and Closed, as shown at the top of the next page.

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We will see the difference between these two during this example. For now, we will keep the default
of Open, select Smooth from the top choices, then click on Done to continue. We are prompted to
select a sketching plane. We are going to pick FRONT. When we do, an arrow appears on the
front plane, as we have seen it do many times before.

This time, however, the message window is asking for us to pick the direction of VIEWING the
sketching plane again. The lesson you should have learned by now is to always look at the
message window to see what you are being asked. It will save you a lot of time later.
We will accept this direction of viewing by clicking on Okay, then we will select the TOP plane to
face towards the Top. Inside the sketch we will create our first section, which looks like the
following.

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The first sketch will be the only one that contains sketcher references. We want to create a
sketched coordinate system and locate it at the intersection of the two sketcher references. The
coordinate system shows the sketch as lying in the X-Y plane, where Y is going upwards. Once we
have finished creating this sketch, we accept it.
In the message window, we are prompted to enter the rotation angle about Y. Using the right hand
rule (thumb points in the direction of Y, and the direction your fingers curl represents the positive
angle), we will enter a value of 30 degrees.
We are then placed into a new section. We are going to sketch the same profile as we did before.
HINT: Use Sketch, Data from File, then click on the In session icon (little blue computer screen)
to list all of the current sections that are in memory. The latest one on the list represents the one
you are currently working on, so the one before that numerically is the last one that you did.
Retrieve or sketch the following for the second section.

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You will notice that there is a coordinate system in this sketch, because it is what ties this sections
location to the first one. Once we are done with this sketch, accept it. Down in the message
window, we are asked if we want to continue on to another section. We will type Y for Yes and hit
the enter key.
We will now be asked for the rotation angle for the next section about the Y axis. This will be the
angle between section 2 and 3, so we will enter 60 degrees. We will be placed into the sketch,
where we will create the figure at the top of the next page.

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This sketch has different dimension values for the arc and the horizontal dimension at the top. If
you choose to re-use a previous sketch, you will need to make these adjustments before moving on
to the next section. Once you are done, accept this sketch, answer Y to create another section and
then enter 60 for the angle.
Create the following sketch for the fourth section.

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Accept this sketch and answer Y to create another section. Enter 30 degrees for this last angle,
then sketch the following.

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Once we are done with this last section, we will accept it, then answer N so that we dont go on to
another section. We will be placed back at the feature window. This time, make sure shading is
turned on, and hit the Preview button in the window. Your model should look like the following.

Looking at the window, we can see there is an optional element we did not define. This is called
Tangency, and it allows you to specify other surfaces that the open sections might be tangent to. In
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our model, we do not have any other features, so we really can not use this option at this time.
We will, however, change our attribute value. Double-Click on Attributes, and change the option
from Open to Closed. Make sure you still have Smooth selected. Click on Done to accept this
choice, then OK to finish the feature. You will now see the following model.

So, have you guessed how the Closed attribute works? It takes the first and last sections (as long
as they are not touching), and attempts a revolve around the Y axis, blending the two together. It
just happened that our first and last sections were identical, so it was able to create a semi-circular
revolve to blend the two.
If you just looked at this model without knowing that it only took one feature to create this, you might
think it was made up of complex surfaces, and datum curves, etc. This just goes to show you that
you can get pretty complex shapes with very little feature headcount or complexity.

GENERAL BLEND
A General Blend combines the parallel and rotational blends, and adds the ability to rotate about more
than one axis. Consider the following part (General_Blend.prt).

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We can see the sections in the order in which we are going to pick them. These sections are already
sketched datum curves. When creating general blends, it is often easier to create your sections as
curves before you create the feature.
We will create the blend by going to Insert, Blend, Protrusion from the menu bar. At the first menu,
we want to select the following options: General, Regular Sec, and Select Sec. We will hit Done to
continue.
The window for the general blend opens up as follows.

This is the same window that we saw for the rotational blend, but the options we pick a little later will be
different because we chose to select the sections. For the attributes, select Smooth, followed by Done.
The following menu comes up.

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We are being asked to select the first curve. We want to select all four edges of each rectangle, so we
are going to select on the Sel Loop option in the lower part of the menu, then pick on the first section
curve, as shown below.

We can see that all four edges of this curve were selected, and we have a start point in the upper left
corner. As we rotate our model around to select the other entities, we want to make sure we pick the
same corner or well get that twisting effect we saw earlier. Once we have the curves selected, pick on
Done. We should see the same menu again (almost as if it didnt take our previous selection). This is
normal, because we have to specify at least two sections.
We are going to pick the Sel Loop menu command again, and this time we will select the second
rectangle. When we pick it, it looks like the following.

All four edges were selected, but our start point is not in the right place. Therefore, click on the Start
Point menu command, and pick the upper left corner. Once we do this, our sketch will update as
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follows.

Even though the arrow is pointing in a different direction, the fact that it is on the upper left corner is all
that we care about. Pick on Done to finish this second section.

In the message window, we are asked if we want to continue on to the next section. Type in Y for yes.
Repeat the process of picking using the Sel Loop command until all of the remaining three sections
have been picked and the start points for all of them is in the correct orientation.
On the last section, we want to make sure that the point selected when looking from a top view is the
lower left corner (because we want the part to rotate up 90 degrees at this point.
Once all of our sections are done, answer N to the last prompt about creating additional sections, then
click on OK in the feature window to complete it. Our final feature looks like the following.

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If the general blend fails, it is most likely that one of the start points was in the wrong location. Go back
into the sections to fix any that were failing.

LESSON SUMMARY
Blends are a great tool to create complex transitions between different shapes. You can accomplish
with a single blend feature what you might take dozens of surfaces, datum features and other entities
to create, so dont be afraid to try them.
You can either select sections or sketch them. Parallel blends will only let you sketch all of the sections
in a single sketch using Toggle to go between them.
Always check the start points in the sections. Arranging them in different locations can cause twisting
to occur, or feature failure.

EXERCISES
Create the part shown on the next page. Use a blend feature to create the main shaft of this part. Use
Extrude and Revolve features for the remainder of the features.
Hand_Rail_Column

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