How to Present the MBD Data of Sheet Metal Parts

A previous article shared “How to Define the MBD Data of Sheet Metal Parts.” Now, let’s move on to presenting the model-based definition (MBD) data. As explained in another article, “How to Present the MBD Data of a Gear Box Assembly,” MBD presentations matter, especially for downstream consumers such as those in machining, inspection and purchasing. They are vital to the success of MBD implementations.

Figures 1, 2 and 3 show several typical 3D views of sheet metal parts to present the key characteristics from different perspectives.

image001Figure 1. A 3D View from the back perspective.

image002Figure 2. A 3D View from the top perspective.

image003Figure 3. A 3D view focusing on the flange.

In Figure 1, the model attached with the 3D product and manufacturing information (PMI) appears fairly tall vertically on the screen. Since most laptop or desktop computers are equipped with wide screens, you may want to reorient the model horizontally in a way that is similar to the orientation shown in Figure 4.

image004Figure 4.A horizontal orientation of the sheet metal part.

However, such a modification comes with a bit of inconvenience. The reading direction of the dimensions and tolerances is now from bottom to top, rather than the direction that is most comfortable to human eyes, from left to right. Can we reorient the PMI as well? Yes, we can achieve this by reorienting the annotation view. Here are the steps for this process.

First, edit the annotation view containing the PMI you want to rotate as shown in Figure 5.

image005Figure 5. Edit the annotation view.

Notice that a light yellow transparent plane is previewed to indicate the viewing direction and orientation as shown in Figure 6.

image006Figure 6. A light yellow transparent plane indicates the viewing direction and orientation.

To adjust the orientation, you can just type in the angle to rotate the preview plane as shown in Figure 7. I entered“90 degree” in this dialog. You can also slide the bar next to the angle text box to adjust it dynamically. Notice that the plane shown in Figure 7 has been rotated 90 degrees compared to the one in Figure 6.

image007Figure 7. Adjust the horizontal direction of the viewing plane.

Last, just accept the edit to this annotation view. Now when you orient it, it will display the model and the PMI horizontally to take advantage of the wider horizontal screen space as shown in Figure 8. You may need to drag and drop the callouts to tweak their placements a little bit since they have been rearranged. Of course, you can capture this nice display as a 3D view.

image008Figure 8. The model and PMI are displayed horizontally.

To review multiple perspectives at the same time, you can choose to display multiple viewports as shown in Figure 9. I personally prefer breaking the links between these viewports so that I can control each one individually with better flexibility.

image009Figure 9. Review multiple perspectives at the same time using multiple viewports.

You may have noticed another annoyance featured in Figure 8. The bend lines and bounding box are visible in the folded state, which crowd the view but don’t add much value because they are tied to the flat or unfolded state. You can easily hide them as shown in Figure 10 and recapture this cleaner display as an existing 3D view or a new one. It’s nice that with the multiple selection supported, you can hide them both together.

image010Figure 10. Hide the bend lines and bounding box together.

Speaking of the flat state, it is indeed very important to facilitate the fabrication communication with the bend lines and bounding box. Again, 3D view comes in handy here. You can turn on the flat pattern, create a configuration for it, and light up the annotation views containing the PMI applicable to the flat view while hiding others. Finally, show the bend lines and bounding box. Once your sheet metal part puts on a clearun folded pose, just hit the button “Capture 3D View” in a way similar to taking a picture with your camera. Figure 11 illustrates the unfolded 3D view along with the dimensions between the bend lines and bend notes. You can define more PMI as discussed in the previous article.

image011Figure 11. Capture a 3D View of the flat or unfolded state of a sheet metal.

One possible issue is that when you rotate the model, the bend notes may be displayed backward, although the dimensions do flip automatically for easier reading as shown in Figure 12.

image012Figure 12. Bend notes are displayed backward after a 180-degree rotation.

One work-around is to turn on this option under System Options > Display > Display notes flat to screen.

image013Figure 13. Display notes flat to screen under System Options.

Now the bend notes along with other notes will always stay flat to screen for easier reading. They won’t rotate any more as shown in Figure 14. Please notice the difference between the dimensions and the notes. The dimensions are tilted and aligned with the model rotation, but the notes are not.

image014Figure 14. Notes don’t rotate with the model anymore.

In a similar fashion, you may use a special annotation view type, 2D notes area, to organize bend tables or other 2D entities so that they won’t rotate with the model. Figure 15 shows a bend table assigned to a dedicated bend table 2D annotation view. SOLIDWORKS MBD 2017 added support of multiple 2D annotation views. Facing many types of 2D entities such as bend notes, bend tables, general notes, bill of material (BOM) tables and statements, you can now categorize them separately and control their visibilities at a more granular level.

image015Figure 15. A bend table is assigned to a dedicated 2D annotation view.

With this bend table inserted, let’s capture it as a 3D view too as shown in Figure 16.

image016Figure 16. Capture a bend table as a 3D View.

You can also save this bend table as a generic table to be inserted into the 3D PDF template editor as shown in Figure 17. One enhancement in MBD 2017 is to allow columns and rows to be resized by dragging and dropping the handle on a table divide as pointed to by the green arrow. This way, longer strings can fit better in tables.

image017Figure 17. Insert a bend table into a 3D PDF template.

After a desirable template is laid out, you can publish the sheet metal part to a 3D PDF as shown in Figure 18. A nice addition to the MBD 2017 release is the ability to display supplemental geometries in 3D PDF as mentioned in a previous article. So now the bend lines and bounding box are showing up too.

image018Figure 18. A bend table and multiple viewports on a 3D PDF of a sheet metal part.

To conclude, there are plenty of free tutorials at MySolidWorks, including dedicated lessons on sheet metal models. I highly recommend these tutorials to anyone new to SOLIDWORKS MBD. To learn more about how the software can help you with your MBD implementations, please visit its product page.

About the Author


Oboe Wu is a SOLIDWORKS MBD product manager with 20 years of experience in engineering and software. He is an advocate of model-based enterprise and smart manufacturing.

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