I'm looking for advice on methods for modeling a part that will be fabricated from cut (laser, water jet, plasma, etc) plates of steel and then welded together.
I have been using solidworks for many years to make parts for CNC machining and assembles of such parts, but I'm having trouble figuring out a good workflow for these kinds of models. I recently did some front suspension components for a truck:
For each of the three major components I started with a solid body made from extrusions, I would then use various combinations of split, shell, and extrude/cut to separate each plate into it's own body within the part. I then saved each body to it's own part, and created a drawing to be cut. It worked, and allowed for some adjustment to the base geometry, but it was very tedious...
I've been experimenting with a couple other methods, but haven't really found one that clicks.
Building the with sheet metal features seems to be more geared towards parts with bends rather than cut seams that will be welded. If I try to take a shelled solid and just rip every edge, the program complains that the pattern is too complicated and won't let me finish the feature.
That lead me to try making a weldment part with custom made library profiles for flat plate, and then cut the profile of each plate sketching it on the outside surface and cut extruding it. Saving out each plate and then arranging them for drawings for the cutter is still a pain though.
This worked fairly well but also seemed like a bit of a hacked way to do it. Is there a better workflow that I haven't stumbled upon? Does anyone who works with these kind of parts have advice? Even a file that I could open and look at the steps to make it would be a great help! I'm looking for a clean solution that I can tweak the overall geometry without having each plate break and need 100 little errors to be fixed on each feature when I change an angle from 10 to 15 degrees!