If you haven’t checked out the latest release of 3D SheetMetal Creator, there is much to be excited about. If you’re not familiar with the 3D SheetMetal Creator role in the 3DEXPERIENCE® Works portfolio, let’s get you acquainted. 3D SheetMetal Creator is an easy-to-use, browser-based solution that offers powerful parametric sheet metal design capabilities for building components, assemblies and enclosures. Since it runs on the cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform, all your design data is safely stored and you can access it anytime, from any connected device. Its specialized, all-in-one 3D sheet metal design environment helps you streamline how you create, store, share, validate and manage designs, and ultimately provide production-ready parts so you can get them to market faster.
Let the countdown begin! Here are my top five favourites:
#5 Materials & Appearances
You’re going to love the new and improved Material and Appearances Library! Easily apply realistic finishes, textures, materials, etc. that help you visualize the finished product.
In just a couple of clicks, you can play with various options. Choose from hundreds of covering materials such as glass, fabric, metal. Plus, choose from more than a hundred core materials including aluminum, plastics, and steel types.
It’s simple. Select the option you’d like to try in the Material Browser menu and drag and drop it to your sheet metal model. No rendering required!
#4 NEW! Equations
3D SheetMetal Creator now has equation capabilities for sketches and features. This new functionality utilizes the power of parametric modeling with the ability to create mathematical relationships between parameters to drive model geometry. It allows users to define dimensions and feature parameters based off equations and mathematical functions, creating relationships that enable rapid iterations and design changes.
You can use equations to build true design intent into your sheet metal models to drive dimensions, sketches, sheet metal parameters, bend information and much more.
The beauty of it is that if you change one dimension, everything automatically updates. If you want different sizes, equations can be modified in a flash to limit manual updates. Once your equations are set, you can easily create different versions of models, while limiting costly rebuild errors and eliminating unforeseen design changes.
#3 NEW! Insert Sketch
With the new Insert Sketch command, you can reuse standard or frequently used sketch shapes from models that have already been created, choose from a default library, or create your own customized library.
My favorite option out of the three is the ability to copy or reuse a sketch from any existing or previous model. Say I have this fan I want to install on my sheet metal enclosure. I can activate Insert Sketch, search for the fan model, under Choose Components, and it will show you all the sketches that were used to design the fan. You can just copy and paste right on to your sheet metal model. I don’t have to sketch anything, simply place the new sketch and move on. Why recreate a sketch when you can reuse the one you have already created?
If you want to create your own library, it requires a little bit of set-up of course, but in the end, it will save you time and the headache of having to go check manufacturing catalogs. Simply create a blank component, and create all your desired sketch shapes and sizes. Once you’ve made your sketch library with the connector shapes, cutouts, and sizes you want, you can easily find them in the Insert drop-down menu and use them over and over again.
You’ll also find the new Default Electrical Cutout Sketch Library very useful. This includes a default library our team created that features commonly used connectors, such as display connectors, audio, etc. so you don’t have to design them.
#2 NEW! Rapid 3D
The new Rapid 3D feature lets you drag out your sheet metal design using a push-pull approach to form the design instead of using traditional modeling methods. You can just grab the arrow manipulator on your sketch or edge and drag out the sheet metal geometry to create an extrusion or wall on edge, respectively. In a sense you’re just pushing and pulling to create the design, which forms the bends, angles, and overall shape.
You’ll find that Rapid 3D saves you a lot of repetitive clicks and mouse travel, eliminating the manual process of having to go down to the sheet metal tab on the action bar and activate a command, then select a sketch… Your eyes stay focused on your design so you can get it done faster.
Not only is it a great productivity tool for streamlining your workflow, but it also really enhances the overall user experience with less menu clutter and more screen space for your incredible models.
And last but not least, my number-one favorite is…
#1 The Design Assistant – Mate Helper
My number-one favorite new feature is the Design Assistant’s Mate Helper. The Design Assistant feature uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help guide users and make suggestions to complete steps, based on your previous actions. Now the Mate Helper capability uses the same machine learning and AI capabilities to automatically insert additional instances of duplicate components like fasteners.
Let’s say you have eight fasteners that need to be placed into a sheet metal enclosure; instead of manually inserting each one, the Mate Helper will identify all the holes of the same sizes and automatically drop them in after you’ve manually done the first one. You just select the Mate Helper icon and click on a hole on a face of the sheet metal part, and it will find the locations on the same face and drop the fasteners in all at once. Essentially it does the thinking for you by replicating all the mates and components. No more fussing around with patterns or spending all day placing individual fasteners, sit back, relax, and let the Mate Helper do your work for you.
This is a huge timesaver and will save you hours. It’s an amazing productivity tool and it streamlines your daily workflows by eliminating manual patterns. It’s the type of feature that once you start using it, you can’t live without it.
I hope you like the latest enhancements. We’re sure you’ll find that with 3D SheetMetal Creator you’ll have production-ready parts in a fraction of the time manually spent on these tasks.
Give it a try and let us know what you think. As I always say, it takes great customers to make a great product so we’d love to get your feedback.
Originally posted in the SOLIDWORKS Blog.