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A strategy for producing etchings via DXF, made easy in Solidworks.

Question asked by Francis Leach on Mar 15, 2011
Latest reply on May 12, 2011 by Francis Leach



I wondered if you Guys and Gals, had any quality strategies for speeding up the creation of etchings which usually have to be described to the etching subcontractor as a drawing using th DXF format and layers. I use the obvious and I describe it below but it is tedious and Solidworks should do better in my opinion.


1. The flat component is created conventionally as a part using a series of sketches, an extruded boss and other extruded cuts to make the parts. It may also be a sheetmetal product especially if the component is to be folded. The flat plate will be used as a template for the etching.


2. A dummy part is created , typically named:- "Etch of Part name"


3. The dummy part is used to create a new assembly


4 The "Part" is added and positioned/mated to the origins of the assembly on the front plan of the dummy "Etch"


5 The etch is edited in context by creating extruded bosses all around the perimeter of the part and all aperture which will cut through the part.  In order to signify that these will be completely cut through in the etching process the colour attribute of the feature is changed to "BLACK"


6. Other areas that are partially etched into the component face are coloured "RED" .  These are used on features that do not cut through entirely but are half etched into the face. The etched part has to be retained in the mother sheet in processing and this is achieved by leaving bridges between non etched areas to support the part so that it does not drop out into the etchant where it would be consumed and destroyed.


7. Other areas that are half etched from the rear are coloured "BLUE"


8. When completed using the above scheme, a drawing is started of the assembly and the part is hidden just leaving the "Etch of the part name" visible


The different coloured areas are filled with a solid fill coloured to match the colour of the parts features i.e Full through etch, half etch from front, Half etch from rear. The fills are assigned to layers with matching names, black, red & blue.


9. The solidwork drawing is saved and also "saved as" a DXF file.


The End.


By this time, you folks should all be Yawnings with boredom especially if you have lots of parts that have to be nested on the surface area of the mother sheet.


There should be a better way, Please?


What if etching became a Solidworks feature in the sheetmetal functionality.


What if solidworks could automatically identify an external perimeter for the part, ask for input of a boundary width of "cut through" and allow it to selection a layer / colour automatically. 


What if, solidworks could create the half etched bridge features using a sketch similar to the creation of webs in another solidworks functionality..


What if Solidworks could auto identify the appropriate layer that half etched features should be assigned,  assuming the front plane was always declared as "face side" so that half etched from front and half etched from rear, would be automatically determined and applied to the appropriate layer and colour.


What if  Solid works could output a dxf drawing for a part declared as an etched part and automatically split it into separate drawn layers


What if solidworks could  take on multi layered etching i.e etching, on etched  parts, with more etching on etched part from the rear surface. 5 layer etching?


What if Solidworks was able to use a form of STL processing to analyse the layered structure within the finished etched part and keep seperate  the layers for outputing the part in a dxf format.


Life would be so wonderful.