Have you ever been frustrated when trying to manipulate splines in 3DSketches? I think most of us who have used them have felt that way from time to time. Most of that frustration can stem from the view orientation of the model in relation to the direction that you are trying to manipulate the point or control polygon. One way around this is to utilize the multiple view window option available in the lower left hand corner of the graphics area. This allows you to use orthographic views in multiple viewports to manipulate the spline to the desired shape. There is a tool that can be used to manipulate 3DSketches in defined directions in a single viewport. This tool is called the Sketcher Triad.
The Sketcher Triad is available from the right mouse button menu in the graphics area of a 3DSketch. If you right click on a vertex, the triad will appear on the screen at that point. You can also right click in the graphics view (away from any geometry) and the triad will appear in the lower right corner of the screen. The triad has arrows oriented in the model’s default X, Y, & Z directions. If the triad is snapped to a vertex you can click and drag the arrows to move the point in the arrow’s direction. You can also click on one of the three planes represented on the triad to move the point in that plane.
If you wish to move the triad to another point, there is a right-click menu option available. The right-click menu also allows you to align the X, Y, & Z directions to another entity or back to the component origin. You can turn off the triad through the right-click menu as well.
Another great option available allows you to lock the direction of manipulation. If you double-click the arrows or planes of the triad, all sketch movements will occur in that direction or plane. Even if the triad is snapped to a point, all points manipulated will follow the triad setting. This behavior will continue until you select another direction or hide the triad.
I have found this VERY useful when freeform routing electrical cables in SolidWorks Routing. It also comes in handy in defining 3D guide curves for complex geometry. The beauty of it is that the triad can be used for ANY sketch geometry in a 3DSketch. The next time you get the chance, open a 3DSketch and try it out for yourself!