How To Model Complex Sheet Metal Parts in SOLIDWORKS

A step-by-step guide on how to create the shade holder part in the lamp model shown keeping cut outs in curved surfaces straight and true for a genuine flat pattern.

  1. Step 1: Sketch Out Your Profile

    Make sure your sketch is fully defined and that straight entities are tangent to arcs.

    I always keep dimensions to a minimum using constraints as much as it makes life much easier when you come back to edit .

    Please take note that the origin is in the center of the sketch it will help later in the tutorial.

  2. Step 2: Create Base flange

    : Select your sketch in the feature tree then in the command manager select the base flange function from the sheet metal tab.

    : Add a dimension to set the depth of your profile in this case 10mm

    : Check override default parameters if you wish to adjust the thickness of your sheet metal part

    : Click the green tick

    Now you have your basic profile in sheet metal form. 


  3. Step 3: Unfold Your part

    : Select the unfold function in the command manager also in the the sheet metal tab

    : Select a flat surface for the part to begin to unfold from

    : Select collect all bends (this can also be done manually if don't need a fully flat pattern)

    : Select the green tick

  4. Step 4: Extruded Cut

    At this stage you can now shape you profile using the Extruded Cut feature.

    Tip: when sketching your cut Use the mirror entities feature through the origin this will ensure you finish with a symmetrical part because the origin is in the center you put it there in step 1 .

  5. Step 5: Refold Your part

    : Select the fold feature in the sheet metal tab

    :Select the same face as when you unfolded your part this is good practice as you might be working with many parts which will need to fit back together once refolded.

    :Select collect all bends

    :Select the green tick 

    You now have your realistic sheet metal without any wonky cuts ready for assembly.  

  6. Step 6: Flat Pattern & DXF Format

    You will have noticed the addition of the flat pattern in the feature tree right click where shown and select unsuppress

    Solidworks has a great feature if you right click on any flat surface and select export to DXF/DWG you can save the flat pattern to be imported into cam/nesting software for CNC cutting. 

    Alternatively you can add your part to a drawing you will find that you can select the flat pattern in the configurations drop down then add any information like grade of steel and quantity and save as a DXF.

  7. Step 7: