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Is Sheet metal the right approach?

Question asked by Allen Boldt on Dec 22, 2009
Latest reply on Dec 29, 2009 by Allen Boldt

I am looking for some opinions as to whether it makes sense to approach my part design using the SW sheet metal module (which I am not very familiar with). In a nut shell, we first cut out multiple layers of various materials (polymer-based) in a flat condition. Next we assemble them in a cylindrical manner at which time we bond them together (see attached). The layers often consist of various sizes, thicknesses and even different shapes. We also create various holes or cutouts in the layers as well. The attached model gives a simplified version of what I am describing. I created this as a multi-body part for simplicity.

What I am looking to accomplish:

1. I need to be able to show the finished formed part as shown in the attached file.

2. I need to be able to flatten out the individual components in order to create flat DXF files. I think that 2010 has a direct “send to DXF” option.

3. We custom build these parts and therefore have an infinite number of variations in terms of diameter, lengths, cutouts, layer combinations, etc. This drives the need to make changes as easy as we can. For example, if I need to change a hole location or size I want to change it once and have it reflected in all the components.

4. Ideally I would like to be able to show some type of exploded view, preferably with the components in the flattened state. The purpose of this would be to give someone that assembles the components a clear picture of the various layers and how they go together.

Am I barking up the right tree in terms of using SW sheet metal? I saw that 2010 will have the multi-body function. Would this be the direction to head? Any thoughts are greatly appreciated regarding how to approach this and whether I should use the sheet metal tools. Providing some sort of example file would be even better since I am new to sheet metal. Thanks for your time.