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In this tutorial, we’ll cover Path Mode, which is used to temporarily display profile members by just their paths.
Start with a model of four profile member columns. In this example, the columns are tubes with an orange material.
We want to place beams between the columns, which would be easy if the corners were 90 degrees but these are not. The paths for the beams would be easier without the columns themselves showing.
To switch the columns to path mode, select them all, and click Path Mode. Now each path is a simple vertical line, and the 2D profile shape appears at each midpoint.
If you zoom in, you can see the orange profile material.
With the Line tool, draw out paths for two beams, and select both paths.
Open the Profile Browser and activate the W12 shape. Use the top middle placement point and a blue material.
Click Build Along Path.
To make it easier to add the beams in the other direction, select these two beams and switch them to path mode as well.
Working while in path mode is just like when the profile members are fully displayed. Select one beam, making sure to click its profile face so that the actual profile member is selected, and not the path edge you added manually. Use the Rotate tool to place one rotated copy, then use Move to create an array of linear copies.
These four new beams don’t extend far enough, so select them all and click the Extend or Split tool. Make sure the correct end is highlighted, and extend all four beams to their needed lengths.
(It may seem that for a single member, the Scale tool would also work to extend a path line. But Scale is disabled for profile members, both in and out of path mode. This prevents any change to the profile shape itself.)
Now select all profile representations and click Revert Path mode to get back the actual objects.
Some trimming is needed, which you can easily do with the Trim to Face and Trim to Solid tools.
You can also change the profile itself while in path model. Select the 4 long beams and convert them back to path mode.
With these paths selected, find a channel profile, make it yellow, then edit and update the profile and material. After reverting, the trims for the new beams are still correct.
Bringing everything back to path mode, you can see each path and the areas that are trimmed.
If you want to view these paths without the profile faces showing, open the Layers window and turn off the “path mode widgets” layer. This is handy for producing line work, or for export into other software such as a structural analyzer.
This new example contains a model of a 3D pipe path, and in the Profile Dialog there is a 12” metal pipe profile with center placement.
Use Smart Path selection to define the path, then create the pipe. Then move the path away from its path lines.
The original path lines can be erased.
If you wanted to change the pipe path, you could double-click it and use Edit Path. But you can also do this while in Path Mode. Display the pipe in path mode, and each path segment has a profile shape.
To modify the path, double-click the group and click Edit Path. The profile shapes are gone, and you can change the path.
This time, when you close the group, there new profile faces where you added new path segments.
Now say we want to join a smaller pipe to this one, which would be pretty tough to do while the actual pipe is showing. But it’s easy in Path Mode to create the path for the new pipe, since you can reference the existing path. Create the new pipe path and select the path.
Modify the pipe profile to a 9” diameter with a different material, then build along path.
Now when you bring back the original pipe from path mode, you’ll have a clean pipe join.