Custom Forming Tools for Your Sheet Metal Parts
July 1, 2016 • Brandon A.
When creating sheet metal parts in SOLIDWORKS, it is often necessary to create the geometry for holes, louvers, or countersinks that would be created using a punch. Forming tools are designed to help you easily create the punch shape on your sheet metal part, and help to standardize the punch sizes available to your design team. Creating your forming tools is quick and easy. Let’s walk through what it takes to create your tool.
- You will first begin by creating simple extruded geometry in a new Part file to represent the overall shape of the tool. Adding a base feature to extrude away from will help create fillets and rounds, which will be necessary for tools like embosses or louvers to result in the correct geometry. Be sure that fillets are appropriately sized for your material thicknesses. Your minimum radius of curvature can be used to determine which gage thicknesses the tool can be used with in your sheet metal designs.
- Once the base geometry is created, you may also want to think about regions that will be treated as a hole. Using a “Split Line” feature will allow you to split faces which can then be treated as faces to remove from the geometry later on to create a hole.
- With the geometry finished, it is time to add the “Forming Tool” feature. Go to your sheet metal tools on the Command Manager to begin creating the form tool geometry. Here you will specify a stopping face. This determines which face will be used to place the tool onto a sheet metal part. You will also specify any faces to remove if you wish to also create a hole in your finished sheet metal part.
- Our form tool can also include multiple configurations, which will allow you to choose from different sizes when placing the tool. Be sure to configure your dimensions to allow for different punch sizes that may be available in your shop.
- Now you are ready to save your forming tool to the designated “Forming tools” folder in your Design Library. You can save to other locations besides the default Design Library. Just note that you will need to add this folder to your Design Library task pane, and specify as a forming tools folder. (Right Click the folder, and check “Forming Tools Folder”) Forming tools are intended to be used by click and drag from the Design Library pane. Without designating the folder as a “F Forming Tools Folder”, the tools will not work as intended.
New forming tools in your library can now be used to create the punch shape on your sheet metal part. Simply drag and drop the tool onto your sheet metal part. Here you can control punch direction by flipping the tool, Orientation angle, and location, all within one property manager.
Keep in mind that these punch locations can also be easily shown on your flat pattern drawings. (Tables> Punch Table)
With SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal tools, it is easy to standardize your punch tools, and finish designs quickly, with accurate results.
I hope these tips will serve you well in your sheet metal designs.
I wish you the best of luck in designing the BEST products in your field.