SOLIDWORKS has supported sheet metal multi-body parts for the last two releases, but that still came as a pleasant surprise for me.
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!
What about drawings?
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.
If you take a moment to think about it, you cannot have a Flat Pattern for the whole part, since it is now an “assembly” of sheet metal bodies. But each body has its own Flat Pattern. So let’s take another look at the “Model View” dialog box. Have you noticed the little “Select Bodies…” button (fig. 2)?
Click on it. You will be sent back to the part model and ask to select one or more bodies. Since you want the Flat Pattern view, select just one body – the one for which you want to create the strip layout.
Now you will see the Flat Pattern option (fig. 4).
That’s it. As I said… a pleasant surprise in the end!