Practical Values for approximating “Zero Radius” bends in SOLIDWORKS

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE updated February 5, 2018


I am as sure as the words posted here that every sheet metal designer has been asked to fudge some values to represent a “SOLIDWORKS Zero Radius” bend or a “SOLIDWORKS Sharp Corner” at some point along the way.

As it turns out there is a procedure for ensuring sharp corners in SOLIDWORKS, however it leans more toward a work-around modeling method, which won’t always apply to your design scenario.

Strictly speaking you can enter 0.001mm or 0.00003937in as a tiny default bend radius, as these are the minimum values that SOLIDWORKS will accept. (FYI – SOLIDWORKS is converting everything in metric in the background)

Those values MAY work on parts that don’t have an odd angles, but once you add angular geometry to the component, the bend areas become too small and often fail with the complexity of the geometry.

Most often the use of the absolute minimum bend radius values will result in an error during the flattening process:

"This part contains features that cannot be unbent."

This is generally due to the transition being too severe for SOLIDWORKS to interpolate the difference at the bend location.

One suggestion is to slightly increase the values away from the absolute minimum:

I suggest starting with values of 0.025mm or 0.0001in and increasing those values if the bend area continues to fail.

This will provide the complex transition more room to work with and alleviate the errors.

You won’t see any visible difference, and the component will not be any easier to dimension, however the use of these slightly larger values will allow you to maintain the appearance of a sharp corner without the errors in the feature tree when attempting to unfold the component.

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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.