SOLIDWORKS Costing an in depth Review Part 6 – Sheet Metal Costing

SolidWorksThis month we are continuing our look at the SOLIDWORKS Costing tool. We have a ton of information to share with you as we not dive into the specific disciplines of this tool. We will be discussing how to use SOLIDWORKS Costing on sheet metal parts, weldments, machined parts, and multibody part. We will finish this series with generating the reports and sharing you data. Hopefully you have gone thru our first 5 articles and now have an understanding of the benefits of SOLIDWORKS Costing and how the tool is laid out.

Let's take a look at using SOLIDWORKS Costing to estimate the cost of a sheet metal part. Once you have a sheet metal part designed and are ready to look at the costs, you can launch the costing tool from the evaluate toolbar. The costing dialog box will show up in the task pane on the right hand of the screen. You can click the thumb tack in the upper right hand corner to pin this dialog open. This will allow you to see how the costs change as the part is modified. To get started on a sheet metal part set the Method pull-down to Sheet Metal (assuming you have created your templates(refer to part 4 of this series for more information) and pointed the file locations in the system options to your template locations).

Next, chose the appropriate template under your Costing Template pull-down. Based on the information in the template a cost evaluation is performed. If there is not enough information in your templates then you will need to provide additional information in the provided dialog boxes.


Once the template is selected, choose the material class and material. The pull-down choices will be limited by the materials and material thicknesses entered into the template. There are options to override this information if the dialog boxes. If you select a material thickness that is different than your model thickness the program will display a warning message. If you override the material cost, this will only affect the current part that is open and will not update or change the template values.


*****Overridden Material costs will display in Yellow********

Now define your blank size. The template will give you the option to select the bounding box (which is calculated by SOLIDWORKS and is the smallest rectangle in which the flat pattern will fit), the flat pattern area, a custom material size, or a custom area. The bounding box and flat pattern options will also give you an option for an offset value. This will increase the value to cost equally in all directions by the inputted amount.


If you choose to add a % scrap value, you will see that it will increase final area for your blank. It took a minute to get my head around this, but you can think of this as a safety factor when purchasing material. This will add a small buffer of material above and beyond your blank size to guarantee that you get a good blank. (For example, if your blank was 5in x3in that is an area of 15 in2 and you add 10% scrap then your area would become 15.1 in2. This ensures that you are able to get your 5in x 3in blank.)

Continuing down the costing task pane, we are finally able to enter the number of parts to be manufactured and the lot size.


Now that we have all the necessary information added we can see the cost of the current part. The comparison is a real-time update to show you how the changes you make are impacting the cost of the part. It also breaks down the percentage of material cost vs the manufacturing costs. If the change made cause a decrease in cost the current cost will highlight in green and have a SolidWorks with the -% value. If the change made cause a increase in cost the current cost will highlight in red and have a SolidWorks with the +% value.SolidWorks

The final option we have is to add a markup or a discount to the part. We are able to mark up based on a percentage of the total cost, or the cost of the material. You can actually add a markup in both fields, the value does not reset when you toggle the selection box, but the calculation will only evaluate the displayed markup. Enter a positive value to indicate an increase and a negative value to indicate a decrease.

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Everything from the surface of this tool makes this very simple process. Fill in some simple selections and it spits out a value, but the real work horse of this tool is the templates. The more accurate your template, the more accurate your cost. For a detailed explanation of creating costing templates please revisit part 4 of this series (SOLIDWORKS Costing an in depth Review Part 4 – Templates). When a template is applied to a part, SOLIDWORKS will break down each operation required to create the part. We can see this breakdown by looking at the SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager.


The setup folder contains any costs associated with setting up an operation to run a lot of parts. Each operation has to be setup and there is a cost associated with that. Right clicking on an operation will give you an option to overwrite the cost, or to assign a no cost for that operation.

The cut paths folder contains the 2D machining paths that need to be cut from the blank. This folder contains the number of cuts, the cutting method, and the cost of each cut. The formula for the cost is simply: Cost = cut length x cost per unit length (defined in the template). Right clicking on any of the cut operations will allow you to change the method of cutting, overwrite the cost, or to assign a no cost for that operation.

The bends folder will contain all of the bends in the part. They are separated into 2 categories: regular bends and hems. Right clicking on an operation will give you an option to overwrite the cost, or to assign a no cost for that operation.

The library feature folder contains all the library features and forming tools from the part. The cost is calculated per stroke in the template. *** You can dissolve a library feature to break down additional operations such as laser cutting.

The custom operations folder contains any operation that is not automatically recognized by the sheet metal costing tool. A custom operation can be calculated as a cost associated with the entire part, the part weight, a specific part face, a part edge, or a single stroke operation such as a punch. You can setup these custom operations in your template, or they can be created on the fly for each part (these are not saved to your template)

The no cost assigned folder contains features that are not recognized by the costing tool, are not defined in the sheet metal template, or have a zero cost. If you set a feature to have a zero cost, SOLIDWORKS will move that feature to the No Cost Folder.

We hope that Part 6 of this series gives you an understanding of how to use the SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal costing tool to evaluate your part cost. Please check back to the CATI Blog as the Dedicated Support Team will continue to break down each of the functions in the SOLIDWORKS Costing Tool. All of these articles will be stored in the category of Daily Dose…..of SOLIDWORKS Support and links to each article with their release date are listed below:

Bryan Pawlak, CSWE

Computer Aided Technology, Inc.

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