Learn about the differences when exporting geometry created by using the sheet metal features in SOLIDWORKS.
- [Narrator] When exporting geometry related to sheet metal parts in SolidWorks, we have to take some extra care as the steps we take to do this. Now typically, we won't be sending out any 3-D geometry. Sheet metal work is typically done in a 2-D way, meaning that we cut things using laser, water jet, or other CNC cutters and the flat pattern, and then we bend it up, do some stamping operations, or something along those lines to create a part similar to what you see in front of you.
So here I've downloaded a chassis part of of GrabCAD, which you can go search for and download yourself. I've edited it a little bit to make it a little bit simpler, but as you can see it's got edge flanges, cutouts, bends, relief, all the common sheet metal features that you'd find in a part. So let's see what we'd have to do to save this as a DWG or DXF to output to a vendor. I'm going to go up to my dropdown and select save as.
Now for this particular example, I'm not going to select DWG. There's nothing wrong with selecting DWG, but I find that a DXF is always a better file to use. When sending out to vendors it's a universal file format, so it won't have the restrictions that the classic AutoCAD DWG file has. It will be accepted by more foreign softwares. Alright, automatically you can see the prefix flat pattern has been added to my part name, that's because I'm designing a sheet metal part which has a flat pattern feature in the feature tree.
Let's go ahead and click save. As I mentioned, many of the options are different doing a sheet metal part, so we can see right away that for the export option we have a sheet metal option here at the top. We can do faces or annotated views, but it's always best to use the sheet metal function, which will rely on the flat pattern. Down in the entities to export, I'm going to select geometry, bend lines, and bounding box. I do this because I want to get the bounding box, which is going to define the stock that my vendor's going to use to create this part.
The bend lines, which are going to be required to bend the part and form it, and the geometry, which are all the lines that will be created overall. I'm going to leave all the other options as they are, and hit the green check mark. You can see after doing some processing, that here we have a flat pattern one created. Now normally I might move my x and y axis, but when dealing with sheet metal flat patterns such as this I find that it's more trouble than it's worth. The person that you're going to send this out to is going to take this file, convert it, put it in a different software anyway, so they're going to reorient it the best way needed.
Let's say I wanted to get a hundred of these made, they might nest 100 into several full-sized sheets and orient it several different ways to get the best optimization of their sheet output. You can see here, that the dash lines show my bounding box, and my bend lines, and then we also have all the other features in solid lines. Just like with normal DWG, DWX output, we can delete a line by just selecting it and hitting remove entities.
If that's done in error, we can always undo the operation. I'm going to go ahead and save this file. Now let's take a look at the file we've just created. I'm going to switch over to DraftSight. This is the 2-D design and drafting solution from SolidWorks. Going to file open, now you'll notice that no file has shown up here and by default DWG is selected. Many 2-D editors do this by default, so you'll want to go to the dropdown and select DXF.
Once that's done, our flat pattern shows up. Let's go ahead and open it. Just like in our preview, all of our geometry is contained in it. One thing to note, is that the constructing bounding box overlaps geometry. If you have a vendor who's not used to handling such items as a bounding box, you might want to remove that or not select that option so that there's not a conflicting path overlapping. Other than that, our part's ready to go.
- Opening files from different versions of SOLIDWORKS
- Importing models from online sources
- Importing 3D files
- Importing 2D files
- Exporting 2D and 3D files