Was hoping that when SW starts using the CATIA kernel, there mught be new sheet metal capabilities.
Does CATIA do much better at flatenning curved surfaces to sheet metal?
The kernal has nothing to do with SolidWorks choosing not to have the capability to create accurate flat blanks of non-guassion surfaces.
SolidWorks has chosen to let third parties offer that capability.
If we were all willing to pay a bunch more for the software I am sure we could get that type of capability.
If that capability is what you need you can buy an add-on such as BlankWorks or Logopress (a couple of several options).
Check out the SolidWorks Partners page for add-ins. I would start at Logopress for a reasonably priced package.
CATIA can do this but it's in the module called "Aerospace Sheet Metal" and you can guess with that kind of name, at which audience they are targeting this funtionality in terms of dollars involved. Plus, it's a somewhat niche market I guess, I'm not saying it's strictly for aerospace, but it's still a niche market requirement.
thanks for the input
If you take the time to learn the basics of metal forming, you will be 99% of the way to answering your own question.
not sure what you mean by basics of metal forming. I have been involved in precision sheet metal mfg for 34 years though.
What equations are used to model the flattening of a simple bend? A neutral-axis factor is applied to a bend radius to determine the length of the flattened bend.
The neutral axis factor (usually dubbed "Y-factor") is the simplification of the stretching and deformation of metal in one dimension. This deformation is usually dependent on a combination of material properties and process. At any rate, the bend geometry can be distilled from a single "wild-card" factor that is simple to understand, with unknowns easily compensated for.
Unfolding of compound bends is nmore complex. The stretching of the metal occurs in three dimensions, and the factors governing the behaviour of the deformed metal change even as the metal is being formed. Developing flats of complex forms can not be distilled to a simple 8th grade algebra equation with a single fudge-factor.
you could use rhino3d and the rhino labs plug-in 'advanced flattening' : http://wiki.mcneel.com/labs/advancedflattening
we use it successfully for flattening shoe patterns - you'll have to run some real tests though until you find the correct parameters for your material (depends on how much deformation there is in you design - a shoe last has some pretty weird shapes compared to the slightly double curved surfaces of a ship hull for instance)
thanks for the info. Rhino 5 is going to have the flattening built-in it seems.
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