Design for Manufacturing Using SOLIDWORKS

SOLIDWORKS is a popular computer-aided design (CAD) program used by manufacturers around the world. Designing parts in SOLIDWORKS has become second nature for many engineers as the use of the application has spread and the software’s ability has evolved. SigmaNEST’s honorary SOLIDWORKS expert and mechanical engineer, Dakota Baird, discusses three key areas where designing for manufacturing can have a significant impact.

  1. Modeling formed sheet parts
  2. Utilizing custom properties to provide more information
  3. Multi-body sheet metal parts

“Many of [SigmaNEST’s] high-profile SOLIDWORKS customers are currently utilizing these features in their design process. As the trend has progressed, [SigmaNEST] has seen more and more customers utilizing sheet metal modeling and multibody modeling with SOLIDWORKS. This is the direction SOLIDWORKS themselves encourage their manufacturing customers towards.”

When asked how to best utilize SOLIDWORKS in the design process, Baird discussed the top three concepts manufacturers need to consider when designing parts for SOLIDWORKS:

1. Modeling formed sheet metal parts

SOLIDWORKS is one of the best tools for unfolding a formed part. It has a powerful sheet metal tool that will automatically create flat patterns for formed parts. The SigmaNEST SOLIDWORKS Import module utilizes that flat pattern for any sheet metal part. SOLIDWORKS’s sheet metal unfolding also considers bend deduction and k-factors when creating the flat pattern. This ensures a more accurate flat pattern with the material bend deduction or k-factor already factored into the sheet metal part.  Designers should utilize this tool, instead of relying on secondary software to provide accurate flat patterns.

Formed Part

flattened view

2. Utilize custom properties to provide more information

Part data lives on into the manufacturing shop, where SigmaNEST import any custom property from the SOLIDWORKS model and assign it to any part data field in SigmaNEST. Material, type thickness, and part name are all automatic, but using custom properties in SOLIDWORKS like “# of Bends” for formed parts, can provide more accurate quoting information within SigmaNEST. Custom properties can be used for filtering parts for import as well. For example, creating a property called “SN Part Bends” and filtering for a value of 1 to include can help to ensure only the parts you need for manufacturing are imported into SigmaNEST. This design for manufacturing best practice reduces redundancy by eliminating the need to reenter your part data.

Shows how a part with one bend in mapped out in SigmaNEST.

3. Multi-body sheet metal parts

SigmaNEST supports multi-body import so designers are no longer limited to only one sheet metal part per file. .sldprt file can be used to design multiple solids, weldments and extrudes. This provides users with the same context as designing parts for assembly, helping save time with and single part file modeling.

Design for manufacturing has been adopted into many facets within the industry and as the use of SOLIDWORKS continues to for industrial design, it’s imperative to make informed design choices that will curb production costs while also meeting customer expectations. SigmaTEK plans to dig deeper into design for manufacturing for the month of July. Check back next week for tips on designing for router cutting machines.

Interested in learning more about how SigmaNEST Software integrates with SOLDWORKS?

Talk with your sales representative today!

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