SOLIDWORKS Base Flange vs Thin Feature

Article by James Swackhammer updated May 1, 2019


Today we are going to decide which feature is the better choice in a particular design situation – in this example should I use a Base Flange (Edge Flange/Sketch Bend) method or a Thin Feature?

If you have been creating SOLIDWORKS sheet metal parts for a while and haven’t been using the Thin Feature, you might be pleasantly surprised once you understand why and how to use them.

Let’s review a case study. In this example we have a front wheel assembly that we need to make an inner wheel-well for out of aluminum as shown in the image below:

Wheel arch design required

Wheel well design required

The designer gave us a sketch in the assembly of the profile they want:

Sketch Profile

Sketch Profile in assembly

For both methods (Base/Edge Flange vs Thin Feature) we are going to add a part into the assembly. This is considered to be in-context editing or top down assembly design.

In-context Part

In-context Part

Using a Base Flange/Edge Flange

To make this using a Base Flange/Edge Flange, we first have to make a reference plan on one of the flat lines. I can then start my sketch of a basic rectangle.

Creating a profile for a Base Flange/Edge Flange

Creating a profile for a Base Flange/Edge Flange

Once I have the profile made I can move onto making the edge flange around the tire. The unfortunate part to this is the edge flange won’t go past or to 180°. This leaves me with a minor gap, and this part will not update if the wheel changes in size.

Completed flange

Completed Base flange

Using a Thin Feature

To make this using a Thin Feature we can use the reference sketch the designer made. Convert lines to your new sketch / sketch plane, select Base Flange, enter the width and sheet metal thickness. Done and done! It was that easy. From here you can make a flat pattern configuration.

Thin Feature applied

Thin Feature applied

RESULT: by using a Thin Feature this part follows the exact reference sketch and the added bonus is because the part is in-context of the assembly if the wheel size changes in the reference sketch then the sheet metal part will change along with it.

If you want to practice or see what I did in further detail please download the case study files. Note that this was last saved in SOLIDWORKS 2019.

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James Swackhammer

James is a SOLIDWORKS Technical Support Application Expert based in the Javelin Oakville head office