Automated, Interactive Surface and Curve Flattening and Data Export

SOLIDWORKS has always provided the ability to automatically flatten certain types of geometry. The SOLIDWORKS Flat Pattern feature for sheet metal parts provides automated flattening per sheet metal K-Factor and Bend Tables. However, when geometry is more complex, such as with nonanalytic surfaces, more control is often required to determine how the surface should be flattened.

SOLIDWORKS advanced surface flattening functionality provides control and flexibility to easily flatten these more complex surfaces. You can:

  • Automatically flatten the surface and interrogate an interactive deformation plot (mesh) to graphically view stretch and compression concentrations that can occur when flattening some surfaces with high curvature
  • Relieve material stresses due to flattening by creating relief cuts; Relief can be created by selecting sketches, sketch entities, and part edges, or by creating split lines or cuts for relief of stresses in these areas
  • Select "control edges" to guide the flattening process to maintain length and shape of specific edges, which is particularly helpful for more highly contoured surfaces
  • Sketch curves on surfaces and then flatten the surfaces and the curves together
  • Export flattened surface outlines or patterns for material cutting in a variety of export formats

Here are two time saving workflow examples enabled by SOLIDWORKS flattening:

  • Example 1: Pre-mark welding location lines and component assembly locations on a metal component that is manufactured by forming and welding. This saves time and avoids errors from having to measure and mark manually:
    • In SOLIDWORKS, mark the weld and component assembly locations (sketch) in the formed state - you can even include components names as text
    • Then flatten both the surface and the curves
    • If relief cuts need to be made, insert them by selected sketches, entities, or part edges. 
    • Export to a CNC laser and cut part – burn markings at a low laser setting
    • The components now contain the assembly and welding information
    • After forming, the lines will be the correct size and will be in the correct position so you can weld without having to measure and mark manually
    • The information is burned into the part located welds and components, and even calls out component part numbers for assembly
  • Example 2:
    Pre-cut heat insulation blankets with attachment points for industrial equipment:
    • In SOLIDWORKS, mark (sketch) attachment points on the industrial heat insulation material relative to the industrial equipment it covers
    • Then flatten both the surfaces and the curves
    • If relief cuts need to be made, insert them by selected sketches, entities, or part edges
    • Export to a CNC water jet and cut part and attachment points in flat
    • Once assembled over the industrial equipment, attachment points will line up with attachment points on the equipment that the insulation is designed for.