Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project
Illustration by Richard Downs

Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project

with Gabriel Corbett

Video: Adding components to the design

Components can be designed in SolidWorks, downloaded Go ahead and cancel that.

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Watch the Online Video Course Sheet Metal with SolidWorks: Enclosure Design Project
2h 31m Intermediate May 21, 2014

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Real-world projects are vital to mastering SolidWorks, and sheet metal enclosures are a perfect example of a typical project. Sheet metal enclosures house and protect circuitry, wiring, and other sensitive electronic parts and frequently require customization by a professional CAD designer. So take a firsthand walk through designing a sheet metal enclosure for circuit boards and panel-mounted connectors, as well as fans, power cords, and switches, with SolidWorks. Gabriel Corbett covers the key techniques for working with in-context parts and assemblies that dynamically adjust based on the master part model. He'll show you how to use equations to drive the size of the box and calculate vent holes, work with circuit boards, and download connector components. Plus, learn how to add decals before prepping the final drawings for manufacturing.

Topics include:
  • Working with the Base and Flange tools
  • Building the rough enclosure shape
  • Designing the cover
  • Adding vents
  • Adding components
  • Cutting holes for connectors
  • Adding graphics
  • Making assembly drawings
Gabriel Corbett

Adding components to the design

Components can be designed in SolidWorks, downloaded off the internet, or supplied by a vendor. However we get them, we need to build a circuit board with the key components that will have the physical interactions, with the enclosure. We also might want to model heat sinks and fans, if we're plan on doing a thermal analysis. To get started I have 3.2. Part opened up here which is the board. And I've got several other components here opened up as well. And these components here, are downloaded from the internet. So, let's go ahead and show you where those are from. So, if I click on Open, you can see under Chapter 3, Exercise files > Chapter 3 > Components, you can see there's a bunch of different stuff in this folder, that you can use in your own designs or play around with.

So, several different components here. And if you go back to Chapter 3, there's also a folder called Downloads. We're not going to be using all these files. But I have downloaded some things here, for you to be able to play around with. Go ahead and cancel that. Three of those components are here. And let's go ahead and build a board. So, let's just do some drag and drop. So, we've got the part here. And I want to build an assembly right from the beginning. So, I'll come up to. File> Make Assembly From Part, I'm going to chose a Lynda Assembly file, click OK. And, obviously I've got 3.2 selected here. Click on OK, to start that as our central part.

And you can see it's got the origin right there at that corner, exactly where we want it. I'm going to go ahead and show that. So I'm going to say View. Make sure I'm showing Origins. I can see exactly where I'm going there. And then same thing over here. The right plane, I'm going to go ahead and show that one as well, by clicking on Show. So we see that, and make sure up here we have Plane selected, so we can see it in our view. That's going to make it really easy to mate all the components when we build the board. Next I'm going to come up to to Tile Horizontally, so I can see all the components I have. And then I'll just drag and drop, so grab this component here, drag it into the assembly, grab this component here, and drag one in.

And this one here drag it in, great. All those components are there, let's go ahead and maximize that window. Then we can see what we have. Now, these components over here, we've got, you know, some of them might have planes in the right locations. And some of them might not. So, this component, if I look at the planes, it's got a right plane. And it happens to be right in the center. That's great, exactly what we need. How about this component over here? If we click on that one, open it up. And, you can see a right plane with that. That's really not where we want it to be, right? Why would they put it over there, it doesn't make any sense. So, to make things easier to made up, what we want to do, is we want to add a plane.

So, if I click on this part here and I say, Open part. I can add a plane real easily by clicking on Reference Geometry> plane. And then choosing the left side of the part. Spin it around, and pick the right side of the part. And that'll automatically drop a plane right in the center of that part for us, it makes it easy to mate it up. Click OK. Great, and go back to our assembly. Assembly one, click OK. And then you can see my plain. All right, go up to Mate. Let's pick the top of the board. And let's spin it around, and pick the bottom of this component here. Mate those together. Now, I know I've got a plane in the middle of this thing, so let's go ahead a show that.

So click on OK to this. Click on that part. And make sure we're showing that right plain. So go ahead on show. Great. And then click on Mate. We'll mate this right plane here with this right plane here. They'll slide together. And then this is going to, type a distance in between the two. I'll type in one inch, allows this to slide together. Click OK. Now, I'm going to choose this front face here, and the front face of this component as well, pick Mate on both of those. They slide together. And click OK. That way, you'll have that. Protruding through the enclosure, and this will be flush with the edge of the board.

And we can even space that off a little bit if needed be, depending on what kind of board we have, or if we're designing it, or just copying a board that's already there. Next component, we're going to click on, is going to be this right plane here, and we're going to mate that up with this plane right here in the middle of that. Again, give it a dimension, so you can see where we're at. We'll say 2.0. Click OK. And then, if at any time these planes are kind of annoying you, or making it hard to see what's going on, you can just go up to View and Planes, so you don't see them. Same thing over here, if you say View> Origins.

You can those off, as well. Let's choose the top of the board. Click on Mate. Take the bottom of this component here, slides down. And, in this case, let's slide this one back. And if we want to add a distance, we can say from here to here. We're going to make a distance, and we'll say we're going to recess these back to slightly. We'll say we're going to bring them back 30,000 off the front of the board, so that they're not right poking all the way though. You might just see 'em. Just the very tips of the domes pointing through. And then the final component here. Let's grab him, let's take a look, does he have a plane in the middle, and a plane there, he's got a plane here, and no, again a real random place to have the plane.

So, you know, depending on where you're getting these components from, if you're downloading them off the internet or getting them from a supplier. Some people might be developing these in all types of different ways. We want to kind of make sure that we're using them all the same ways. It a great way to click on a part. Click an open part, again, and Reference> Geometry Plane. Pick this side, spin it around, pick that side. Click OK, and then go back to the Assembly, and let's go ahead and build that. Come down the bottom, there's that new plane. Let's make sure we are showing it and, we're viewing the planes. And then Mate, pick the right plane, pick their central plane, and let's give this one four inches.

They slide together. It's going to be right there at the edge of the board, and then, again, I'm going to hide the planes. Choose the top of the board. Choose the bottom of the component. Now, keep track of where the components are. This is actually the lowest component here, so click on that, or that lowest face on that part, which is probably what's going to be happening as far as when that mates together. And then finally, I'm going to say this is going to probably protrude out a little bit. So, we'll say it's going to be out maybe 70,000, and I'm choosing 70,000 because i know the thickness of the material, for the enclosure's going to be 50,000, and the, you know, and then maybe about 20,000 spacing between the board and the inside of the enclosure.

So, that should put it right at the front face. Okay, so those are three components you just brought in, and made it real easy to bring those in. Any changes we have in the design, you can click on each one of these components, and click under the mate category inside of there, and those values are right there. So, if we need to change anything, we can quickly change those values. The part will move around or slide on the board, and it makes it real easy to adapt the board or change it, it also gives it. A real great way to dimension the parts, because we've got those planes right in the center. When designing or copying a circuit board for a design, try to use the most basic components and the simplest mating techniques.

A lot of times, these are going to be changing quite a bit. So, keep track of how you're mating components together, and come up with a logical solution using planes, or any other method that'll make it really easy to change in the future.

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