SolidWorks 2010 overhauled the Reference Planes tools so that they work like familiar and easy to use Mates. By implementing this new way of developing Reference Planes, it doubles the amount of planes that you can create in one step. Here’s how it works: Go to the Reference Plane tools in the drop down menu “Insert… Reference Geometry… Planes… or choose the Reference Geometry drop down icon in the Features Command Manager all the way towards the right side of the toolbars. You will then be presented with a PropertyManager that looks like the one pictured to the left.
You may ask yourself, where are all of my choices I used to love? You may then ask yourself, is this good or is this bad? You may ask yourself, my God, what have they done? (Sorry, I was just listening to the Talking Heads on my drive down to the office this morning). Essentially, SolidWorks interprets your selections just like Mates. For the first reference, select a planar surface and you will then see the PropertyManager come to life, like in the image below:
You will notice it defaults to an offset plane. But you could also select a second reference, like another edge, to create a plane rotated at another angle. My favorite is creating a center plane. Simply select 2 planes and it will give you the choice of a centered plane. Selecting 2 cylindrical planes will give you an easy tangent plane. Try it out!!!