SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal Sketch Bend vs Edge Flange

Article by James Swackhammer created/updated May 14, 2019

Today we are going to decide which is the better tool to use when adding flanges to a sheet metal part: Sketch Bend vs Edge Flange.

Sketch Bend and Edge Flange are two very different tools that produce similar results. Why do they exist if they do the same thing? They exist because although the two may give similar results, they are applied at different times with different design intent.

Let’s build a typical sheet metal box using the sheet metal features. We are going to make the same box as we did in my previous sheet metal versus article, which is a 12″ x 12″ bottom base with 12″ high edge flanges. Making this box was easy, right?

Sheet Metal Box created with Edge Flanges

Sheet Metal Box created with Edge Flanges

Try making the same box using sketch bends. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

It’s quite difficult, isn’t it? The dimensions have to be perfect to get the same results as the edge flange. Below is a picture of my attempt.

Box with created with Sketch Bends

Box with created with Sketch Bends

Are there benefits to the hard work of a sketch bend? Short answer is YES! Are they really worth it in a typical sheet metal work shop? Short answer is no.

The added difficulty allows more customization for each particular bend, whether you want a custom angle from all the other bends, a different radius or a different bend allowance. But now let’s look at the counter to this.

Looking at this part we see that Edge Flange and Sketch Bend can be used to create this, but what if some tabs were added in the middle? Using existing geometry can you bend these tabs up using Edge Flange? No, but you can using Sketch Bend.

More complex tab required

More complex tab required

Is it possible to make those tabs using Edge Flange? The answer is yes. The long answer is you would have to remove the tab, add a little edge to bend from, make a sketch profile and then select to correct parameters to bend.

Features created

Features created

Our Conclusion

So what have we learned?  Edge Flange and Sketch Bend can do similar things but are designed for a very different design intent. I would stick to this rule of thumb, if you are doing basic flanges that don’t require using existing geometry, then Edge Flange is the way to go. If you are required to use existing geometry, complex geometry or need the added customization, then Sketch Bend is the way to go.

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James Swackhammer

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

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