Sheet Metal Fabrication using SolidWorks®

Designers and engineers have several computer-aided design (CAD) software programs at their disposal. One of those CAD choices is SolidWorks®, which can be used in mechanical engineering, aerospace and defense, consumer products, construction and architectural, other fields of engineering, and many other applications such as in the fields of medicine, energy, electronics, manufacturing and industry. It offers the ability to design in three dimensions instead of two. It is a parasolid-based systemwhere solid objects are used as representations in the software and are manipulated using parametric feature-based solid modeling. SolidWorks® and any other CAD software having the parasolid geometric modeling kernel, allow for modeling to be done within the software. A design will start in two dimensions such as a photo or a drawing and will be developed into a three dimensional solid. There are special tools that aid in the design of sheet metal. A component library of pre-designed components allows for a designer to choose from a design and not have to start a design at step one. One thing that can be done that is effective in SolidWorks® is the ability to produce animated instructions for assembly of a manufactured product. Data management software is also available to track product versions and releases efficiently.

Sheet Metal Design Tools

A tool especially for the sheet metal designer is Smart Fasteners Technology. SolidWorks® also allows users to effectively cut costs by working with materials and weights during design development. It also has tools such as Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software that allows for structural analysis of designs to be conducted. Another useful tool is DFMXpress that allows for manufacturing testing via computer before objects are already manufactured and design flaws are found. Flaws can be found before a product goes to production and money can be saved by using the DFMXpress tool. Imagine if a design went to production and the amount of money that would be lost if the product had to be pulled and could not be sold. There is also the ability to import data from customers so that modeling can be done according to customer specifications more efficiently. After all of the design is complete for the sheet metal design, SolidWorks® gives users the ability through 3DVIA Composer to produce technically accurate manuals as well as user manuals so that users know how to use the product. Finally, a design checker will ensure that the final design complies with the specifications of a client or the company using SolidWorks®.

SolidWorks® Training

One can earn a certification through the SolidWorks® company by taking the Certified SolidWorks® Professional Sheet Metal exam and earning at least a 75%. SolidWorks® recommends first taking the course SolidWorks® Essentials and Sheet Metal and then taking the exam. The student can be asked questions on the exam the mass of a certain part or the elongation of a bent metal part with a given K-Factor.

Example of SolidWorks® Implementations

A company specializing in metal manufacturing is Maloya. Maloya not only focuses on producing metal for the process machinery industry but also for aerospace, architectural, transportation, the medical and scientific fields and more. They utilize SolidWorks® for programming to print, digitizing and scanning for flat patterns, and it is also used for reverse engineering of components that are already in their fabricated state. they are able to work virtually with clients through the use of SolidWorks® parametric modeling and other technology resources. Maloya uses a CO2 laser for cutting and works with a plethora of metals.

Three dimensional modeling software is a popular tool used to design products in the manufacturing industry among other industries. There are many options, with SolidWorks® being at the forefront of a myriad of software tools for the designer and engineer.

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About the Author

Marc Anderes is the Vice President of Operations of Maloya Laser which specializes in Laser Cutting and Metal Manufacturing with advanced laser technologies, for aerospace, scientific, transportation, medical and machinery requirements.

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