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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.
In this course, we're going to walk through the building of a sheet metal enclosure for electronics. This is an intermediate level course, and I'm expecting a base knowledge of SolidWorks and the understanding of the basic sheet metal tools. If you're not quite up to speed, I would recommend checking out my SolidWorks Essential Trainings course as well as my SolidWorks sheet metal course. However, we are going to review a few of the key tools in this chapter. The first tool is the Base tool. The Base Flange Tab tool is the basic building block for most sheet metal parts. This same tool can work in three different ways, depending on the input you give it.
If you provide an enclosed shape like a rectangle, the Base tool will extrude the shape very similar to the regular Extrude command. This extruded thickness will be linked to the sheet metal thickness selected in the dialogue box. Let's go ahead and give it a try and fire up SolidWorks 2014. Now, if you're not using SolidWorks 2014, maybe you're using 2013 or 2012. No problem, we're going to be creating most of the parts within the course, so you can just follow along with your own files. Once you have the application turned on, go ahead and choose New. Let's choose a part, and click on OK.
Now, we want to make sure we have the SolidWorks Sheet Metal tools turned on. And I notice I only have a couple different tabs up here, and if I right-click on any one of the existing tabs, you can see I have a whole bunch of different sheet metal and other types of tools that I can turn on. In this case here, let's turn on Sheet Metal. And jump over to the Sheet Metal tab. I can see the tools I have available. But, like any other feature within SolidWorks, all features start with a sketch. The key steps used in almost all features is to select a face or plane, start a new sketch, draw some geometry, tie that geometry into the origin, add some relations and then, finally, create the feature.
So, to do that let's go over to Sketch, and come over here, I'm going to choose the top plane. Soon as I have the top plain selected, I'm going to use the Rectangle tool. Come over here, I'm going to start right at the origin, and go ahead and click once. Drag out your rectangle to whatever size you want, and then finally click again. Just going to close that shape, and then come over here to Smart Dimension. And we're going to add a couple of dimensions. You'll notice these lines are blue and these lines are black. And if I add a dimension, like this one here, type in five, hit Enter. You'll notice that line here becomes black as well, because it's becoming fully defined.
And if I dimension from the bottom to the top and then place the dimension, type in three, hit Enter. You can see I've got a nice shape, it's fully defined, all the lines are black, and I'm good to go. If the lines are blue, that means they're undefined or under defined. If the lines are yellow or red, you've added too many dimensions or there's some type of conflict that needs to be cleared up before you move forward. The next step is going to go over to Sheet Metal and click on Base Flange tab. Notice in the main window I've got a preview of the thickness of the material. I can change that value right over just by typing in like something like quarter of an inch.
If you do so, you can see the material change. Let's go back and change it back to 090. And as far as our Bend Reduction Value, if you don't know the true bend reduction values, you can click over two k factor, and k factor pretty much always works for sheet metal. But I definitely would recommend using the bend deduction values if you can get them from your sheet metal manufacturer or vendor and type those values in. That way you know you're going to get exactly the correct size flat pattern, when you flatten out your final part. When you're happy with what you have, go ahead and click on OK. And there we have it.
The Base Flange Tab tool in one of the three forms is the foundation for most sheet metal parts. This tool can use basic shapes, or you can spend a lot of time creating intricate shapes and extrude them all at the same time. This is a very powerful tool and also one of the simplest to understand since it works almost exactly the same as the basic Extrude command within SolidWorks.
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