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Mate Connectors vs Planes - Why oh Why??

S1monS1mon Member Posts: 1,074 PRO
edited January 12 in General
A question about in-context part editing reminded me of something that's been bothering me in the back of my mind....

There's a lot of overlap between the functionality of planes and mate connectors. They started as clearly different things with different purposes, but they're evolving to cover many of the same uses. Why are they still different things?

Both can be used for:
  • sketch planes
  • cross section planes
Planes are infinite, and have no obvious, easily controllable origin, but somewhere under the hood, there is an origin. While not as blatant as MCs, planes have a Z direction, and a secondary axis direction (the text of the plane name, and the rectangular edges are clues). 

Planes are not owned by a part, but independent MCs in a part studio have to be owned by a part. A MC "inline" another feature isn't visible outside of that feature and it doesn't need to be owned by a part.

Planes are not visible at the assembly level, but MCs are. At an assembly level, planes can't be used for cross sections or in-context editing.

MCs are not as powerful/flexible as planes when it comes to some geometric creation constraints, but MCs can be moved around and re-oriented much more easily than planes.

MCs don't need to be manually resized because they're just a symbol with an orientation. Planes can be resized, have names on screen and can be selected more easily if they are resized appropriately. 

Due to some of these weird combinations of issues I've found myself using MCs in some places where I would have used planes in Creo or Solidworks.

I'm sure I'm missing some other key differences, but how are other people navigating this? What changes or improvements would make this make more sense?


  • konstantin_shiriazdanovkonstantin_shiriazdanov Member Posts: 1,221 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If not to speak about graphic appearence, we can classify consruction geometry in terms of number of inputs that are requared to fully define it. The mate connector has more inputs, and more clicks are needed to set it. And we have different creation methods for planes and mc's. We should also keep in mind that mc's were originally designed more for defining assembly mates then for part studio references, and they lack full stack of creation methods required for a normal coordinate system reference element one would exepect to find.
  • S1monS1mon Member Posts: 1,074 PRO

    Those are important distinctions. I would also add to that analysis: the number of clicks it takes to adjust or reorient a plane or MC. For instance, the rotate option in a MC is much easier to use than trying to reverse engineer what the plane tool has done behind the scenes to orient itself. If I sketch something and want to move it around other places on the model, if I use a MC I can quickly change the angle or location in a way that's not so easy with a plane. However if I need something through 3 points, or tangent, I'm kinda stuck with a plane.
  • Nick_HolzemNick_Holzem Member Posts: 19 PRO
    3-point option for MC's would be sweet. (and also normal to end of curve or non-linear edge). Ability to slide MC along a curve while primary axis remains normal would be nice too. 
  • matthew_stacymatthew_stacy Member Posts: 414 PRO
    (...normal to end of curve or non-linear edge). Ability to slide MC along a curve while primary axis remains normal would be nice too. 
    @Nick_Holzem, I would describe it as MC z-axis tangent to the end of non-linear edge.  If you submit an IR for this, you for sure have my vote.  The ability to slide along that edge would be lagniappe.

  • eric_pestyeric_pesty Member Posts: 564 PRO
    I agree a mate connector on a "curve" should have the Z be tangent to it by default! The fact you don't have that option is disappointing.
    Note that you can use the excellent "multi mate connector" feature to get around this (using the "path" setting) and locate it anywhere along the path:

  • Nick_HolzemNick_Holzem Member Posts: 19 PRO
    Multi mate seems to work the same as curve point plane option for endpoints. I think the big advantage is using within implicit MC's. I do like the length or parameter input. This I might actually leverage. 
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