Using SOLIDWORKS and ExactFlat to Design, Optimize, and Flatten Composite Products

Article by Dimos Siagoulis updated June 3, 2016


Composite materials offer great strength to weight advantages making them perfect for hundreds of applications including anything from carbon fiber airplane wings, or boat hulls, to textile motorcycle jackets and pants. As amazing these composite materials are, they are difficult to manufacture due to the extremely precise fiber orientation during fabrication.

The issues with composites actually begin with the pre-production phase. Traditionally, when modeling an object in 3D CAD the object would then have to be flattened. If the flattened shape is not optimized the composite will not be as effective when it is in its 3D form.

Enter the ExactFlat Composite Product Design Tool

ExactFlat SOLIDWORKS add-in software eliminates the manual processes associated with 3D to 2D flattening and flat pattern development. This will saves designer’s time, reduces effort and simplifies workflow.

Creation Process

Design > Flatten > Pattern > Nest > Cost > Document

ExactFlat algorithms accurately simulate the behavior of composite cloths. ExactFlat knits faces together to create quality meshes, and automatically flattens 3D into 2D flat patterns, removing wrinkles, unwanted string and sag, and optimize the pattern’s fit.

Composite product design

Simulate Composite Cloth Behavior

ExactFlat optimizes the process of marker making, nesting and material yield optimization, this simplifies preparation for cutting and reduces cost and design time. ExactFlat parametrically links and associates pattern development with nesting. Nests are built automatically in the background while designers work and optimize patterns. Marker sets can easily be configured and compared to further optimize designs and reduce cost.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Works inside SOLIDWORKS

ExactFlat works inside the SOLIDWORKS environment and takes advantage of the finite element analysis (FEA) engineering simulation as well as ExactFlat’s FEA pattern nesting and cost to design tools. The combination of a powerful engineering tool with composite product design tools will save you time, effort, and simplifies the workflow to obtain a flat pattern. These are just a few ways that ExactFlat makes it faster and less complicated to design, develop, and fabricate resin impregnated composite products.

Learn more about ExactFlat

Visit our ExactFlat microsite to learn more about the SOLIDWORKS add-in and the different applications for the software.

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Dimos Siagoulis

Co-op student from McMaster University on my second work term at Javelin Technologies Inc.