Flatten Sheet Metal Part That Has Intentional Interference [VIDEO]

Article by Jim Peltier, CSWE updated November 7, 2014


I was recently asked how to flatten sheet metal part in SolidWorks that interferes with itself. The short answer is that SolidWorks Sheet Metal is not designed to do this. Of course, as is often the case with SolidWorks, where there’s a will there’s a way!

In this example, I am trying to model up a binder clip (one of those black springy paperclips with the wire tabs that people have 101 uses for). It’s made of spring steel, so I want to bend it beyond where I want it so that there is always tension within the final product. This means that my design model will have interference. Or maybe I just needed a non-proprietary example of where you would use this.

So, as you can see, I modeled up half of my part, then used the Unfold command to flatten it so that I could create more features while it was out of my way. In this example, I created a mirror feature because my part was symmetric, but I could have created a flange or a hem or any other sheet metal feature. When I’m done, I can use the Fold command to get the first part of my design back to where it should be.

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Jim Peltier, CSWE

Jim has been using SolidWorks since 2001, and has spent most of that time working in the design of industrial automated manufacturing equipment. He has been working as an Applications Expert at Javelin Technologies in Oakville, Ontario since July 2012 and is a Certified SolidWorks Expert (CSWE).