I’ve got an issue I'd like to share with the forum. We have struggled with this one for awhile. It’s not an issue with SW functionality, more like we could use some help getting where we need to go.
I have attached a model of a forming die to go in a hydraulic press. It has 2 configurations, sliced and solid. The top curved part is what does the forming. The bottom flat part with the cut going across at an angle is so we can put the die together in the correct order after we get the parts off the laser.
BACKGROUND: Normally this type of part might be milled as a solid part by a die-maker, but since we have lasers, we cut individual segments (“slices”) out of flat steel (usually ¼”) and bolt them all together to make our die (see attached picture). There are 99 segments in this particular die. In this way we end up with approximately the same shape as if we had milled the shape solid. This picture is not the exact same die as is in the SW file, but it’ll give you an idea of what we’re doing.
The goal in SolidWorks is to go from our solid model of the die to 99 individual DXF files that can be cut on our lasers.
OUR CURRENT METHOD:
1. Use the Split command on the attached model to create and save out individual bodies of all the slices. This is already done in the “Split” configuration of the attached model.
2. Use Task Scheduler to create drawings of all the individual slices. We created a special drawing template (attached) that has a pre-defined view in 1:1 scale, and nothing else. Task Scheduler creates a drawing using this template, then saves it in a different folder. It does this for all 99 slices.
3. Next, Task Scheduler exports all the drawings as DXF’s. It does this for all 99 slices.
4. HERE’S THE PROBLEM: Because of the way the die curves, the DXF file that Task Scheduler is not a clean profile, it “sees” both sides of the die. To fix this, we have to open up all 99 individual DXF’s in AutoCAD or DWG Editor (shudder) and physically delete the extra lines. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time. I attached a DXF file for an example, you can see in the upper left corner, there are 2 lines shown if you look closely. Our laser software cannot handle this, it needs a clean profile to cut.
SOLUTIONS WE HAVE CONSIDERED:
· Creating a Cut-Extrude on each individual slice of the die that shaves off the extra material, so the DXF will be clean. We are not very gifted in API, but we have attempted to create a macro that would allow us to open the solid model of each slice, click on the appropriate face, and run a macro to open a sketch, do a Convert Entities on the face you selected, select Cut-Extrude, (Through All, Flip Side to Cut), hit OK, then Save, then Close. We tried recording a macro for this, but it only works intermittently. If we had a Cut-Extrude like this on each body before we created drawings and exported DXFs, our DXF would come out clean.
· Creating 99 Cut-Extrudes before the die is Split, so the sliced bodies would be clean. This consist of an Intersection Curve at each of Cutting Planes on the “Bottom of Die.sldprt.” That Intersection curve is a 2D sketch if the plane is pre-selected. It could then be cut-extruded a ¼” in the proper direction to shave off the outside of the slice. The body could then be split, and processed with Task Scheduler as before. This solution is also quite time-consuming.
· Making the DXF easier to clean in AutoCAD or DWG Editor. If we could “Select Loop” somehow on the 2D DXF file, it would be much easier to clean the DXF files if they had those extra lines.
Maybe you guys could lend a hand on this one? Sorry for the long-winded explanation. I also posed this question to Stump the Chumps for SW World this year.
We are already light-years ahead of the way they used to do it before I was around. They used to create a drawing with a front view of the die, then created 99 section views on the drawing, one every ¼” apart. They then exported this entire drawing as a DXF file, and spend 3 days sorting out all the individual section views and saving them individually. Now we can run Task Scheduler overnight and have a pile of DXF's to clean when we arrive in the morning.