Often times we create sheet metal works of art (or just really complex designs) and we want the design to be clearly shown on the drawing. I’ve shown a relatively simple part above (just tell that to the laser cutting machine operator) – just a bent plate with some mounting holes and cut-out text that reads “SOLIDWORKS!” I’ve had to use a stencil-like font in order to not have the centre of the O, D, and R fall out, but I was able to do this manually by right-clicking on the sketched text and saying “Dissolve Sketch Text”. Now I want to convey this in a drawing:
Not the most obvious text
This can be a bit hard to read as it is clearly backwards. As fortune would have it, SolidWorks has anticipated this scenario and has given me a button to press for flipping my view around. Behold:
Do you find yourself modeling up sheet metal parts a lot, but getting unusual things happening with your flat patterns? Maybe the flat pattern isn’t quite right. Maybe you just get errors when you try to flatten it. Well, I experience both in the video I’m about to show you.
The “Normal Cut” requirement makes perfect sense. Being a very thin feature, it’s unreasonable for me to control the angle on the edge of my sheet metal. Chances are, I’m going to laser-cut this profile, so all my edges are going to be perpendicular to the face of the sheet metal. Using the “Normal Cut” option maintains my design intent for manufacture.
The “Simplify Bends” option allows me to remove curves from the profile. This could be useful if I’m not laser-cutting the profile, but nowadays I pretty much always want this option unselected.
I hope that explains a couple of things about troubleshooting your sheet metal part.
There are several Sheet Metal Forming tools available in the Design Library that can be easily dragged onto a Sheet Metal part to add features. Just be aware that SolidWorks Sheet Metal does not account for material deformation during the forming process. The part will have a uniform thickness through the formed feature even if the process would cause the material to thin or stretch. By default, these features will remain visible when the sheet metal part is flattened but there are additional options to show the blank without the features.
You have to upgrade to SolidWorks 2013 SP3.0 in order to have total control over the bend allowance for multibody sheet metal parts.
Note: Many thanks to Anna Wood for making me aware about this new functionality!!!
While the ability to control the thickness, default radius and the bend allowance at the body level has been implemented in SolidWorks 2013 SP0, the workflow was not really intuitive for the user (read this article for more information about how this functionality worked in SolidWorks 2013 SP0, SP1 and SP2).
Starting with SolidWorks 2013SP3.0, there is a new checkbox for the bend allowance at the body level that can control where the information is coming from: either from the Sheet Metal feature at the part level or from the one at the body level. Again, it is a good idea to rename your features accordingly.
There is still a little problem, this time with the way the sheet metal bodies with different K-factors are grouped in cut list items.
Watch this video to the end in order to see the problemand the workaroundI found for it:
When using Bend Deductions in sheet metal, be careful when you have corners that change directions. As shown at the bottom of the blog post Sheet Metal Bend Allowance Calculations, the Bend Deduction calculation is straight forward by taking all outside dimensions then subtracting the bend deduction values for each bend.
All Bends in the Same Direction
Here is a simple example as a base flange with material inside the sketch. The material thickness is 0.1″. For simplicity, the Bend Deduction value has been set as 0. Therefore the calculation of the flat pattern length is:
(Total Outside Dimensions) – (Bend Deduction * Number Of Bends)
My SolidWorks 2013 Pick of the Day is the cleaner feature manager structure in the Sheet Metal environment introduced by SolidWorks 2013.
While the new folder structure is an important benefit for users, it introduces a major danger for people who are not familiar with the new interface. Trying to apply the old SolidWorks 2012 workflows for changing Sheet Metal settings might result in wrong Flat Patterns.
That is why it is extremely important to watch this video all the way to the end.
Note: SolidWorks is aware of this issue and will provide a fix in SolidWorks 2013 SP3.0.
Update (2013.Jan.08): Robbie Liotta from SolidWorks provided more information on how the new functionality is supposed to work in SolidWorks 2013. Please read the second half of this article:
If I were to compare the SolidWorks Sheet Metal module with an Opera Company and you (the SolidWorks user) with the director, then the Loft Bend would be a wanna-be diva; a spectacular feature with lots of potential but also very temperamental.
The Loft Bend is unique among all the Sheet Metal features and, because of that, thinks very highly of herself. Her contract has to be “just so” in order to even consider appearing on the scene. For example:
She will sing in 2 acts only (2 sketch planes), no more no less.
She will wear only 2 dresses with hip high side slits (2 open sketches)
She will create a scandal if, after her first performance, critical reviews are less than stellar. Most times, if you ask her to change anything at all, she will throw ketchupand mustard (read errorsand warnings in the feature tree) over herself and some of her colleagues. She seems to hate in particular the baritone (the Flat Pattern), her most hard working colleague, and does not miss any opportunity to put him down.
There are very few people who can manage the Loft Bend effectively and most of them went through intensive training at Javelin.
Only the other day, a very distinguished director, Marcel Derks from Nexgen Municipal, was frustrated over his own Prima Donna. Apparently he just wanted to trim a bit the sides of the costume and the Loft Bend declared she does not want to sing anymore with the Flat Pattern. Marcel asked us to talk to her and see if we can reach an agreement.
We did talk to both his Loft Bend and Flat Pattern and even recorded the discussion. As you will see in this video, we separated their performances in two different parts of the scene (Configurations), leaving just the Mezzo Soprano, the Derived Sketch as the parametric link between the 2 stars of the show.
SolidWorks has supported multi-body sheet metal parts for the last two releases, but that still came as a surprise for you. Initially it was a pleasant surprise.
The advantages are huge and clear – you can design all your sheet metal components in the context of one part, generate a handy cut-list and sprinkle the drawings with nice balloons, like in assemblies. You can even include structural members or regular solids if needed. Oh, and let’s not forget how nice the Edge Flange can bridge two separate sheet metal bodies (fig. 1). Magic!
Fig. 1 - Edge Flange Merging 2 Bodies
The problem seems to appear when you need to create drawing views for flat patterns. You do not seem to get the Flat Pattern option in the “Model View” dialog box.
Before yesterday, I was sure I knew everything about custom properties and how to use them in parametric annotations. After all, if the information is already in the model, why not use it in Drawings, BOMs and other interesting places. Well… turns out I was wrong and… I am very happy about that!
The values for some custom properties have to be input manually by the user, but a lot of them are filled in automatically by SolidWorks. The problem is that SolidWorks works in silence and does not brag about it. So imagine my surprise (a pleasant one, of course) when Michel Cloutier showed us how fast and easy is to populate a note with the sheet metal parameters of your part with just 2 clicks.
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