Sheetmetal design is a critical part of the product development process because the quality of the design greatly impacts everything — manufacturability, product quality, price, styling and speed-to-market. Once that sheetmetal is cut, there’s no turning back, which puts a great deal of pressure on design engineers to get the design right the first time.
For consumer products that feature metal enclosures or components — such as computers, metal office furniture, and virtually any product that houses electronics — the sheetmetal design can literally mean the difference between profit and loss. Perhaps the greatest impact is seen with downstream manufacturing efficiency; higher quality designs flow smoothly through manufacturing, while flawed designs usually become an expensive bottleneck in the product’s path to manufacturing, assembly — and ultimately, sales.
For today’s design engineers, the challenge is not only to create high-quality, highly accurate sheetmetal designs, but to do so quickly, so that the new products get to market in the shortest timeframe possible.
From 13 to two. In response to the need for greater speed and quality of design, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 sheetmetal design has added intelligence. Now, you can use one or two features to create the same geometry that previously required as many as thirteen features. This new sheetmetal design capability gives you unprecedented control over key aspects of the application.
Consider, for instance, the modeling of a simple sheet metal box. Your design intent might be to have small gaps along the seams to allow for tolerance stack up, with some walls overlapping others so that the final design — after the welds are ground smooth — can look like a single, continuous wall.
In previous versions of Pro/ENGINEER, you might have started out with a rounded solid box, which would then have been converted into a sheet metal box using the “shell” option. After the conversion, rips along all four vertical edges and corner reliefs in all four corners would be added. You would have then created a series of small cuts for the desired gaps — in the flat pattern — and a series of wall extensions for the desired overlap at each corner. That’s 13 features — the box, the rounds, the conversion, the rips, the corner reliefs, four wall extensions and four gaps — to make a simple box.
In Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0, you need only start with a flat unattached wall at the desired thickness. With a single feature, you can create the four sides of the box, define the corner relief geometry, and define how the edges at adjacent walls behave to create the desired overlap and gap.
Smarter walls and flanges. With the new enhancements, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 flange tool employs a smart geometry engine that understands complex intersections and can propose miter cuts.
Suppose you want to close off the sheet metal enclosure of your personal computer design. In previous releases of Pro/ENGINEER, several walls would have needed to be created along each individual edge of the enclosure, followed by a sheet metal cut at each corner for mitering. In Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0, all of this functionality is controlled by a single, highly intelligent swept flange wall. This single feature sweeps from one end of the base sheet metal enclosure edge to the other, traversing multiple tangent edge segments, automatically creating miter cuts in those corners where the walls would intersect. A dashboard window controls the position and the width of the miter cut. This saves significant time over the previous method, which would have required many more features — taking 10 minutes or more — now, using one feature, it takes about a minute.
Browser-based sheetmetal reports. A single interactive HTML report now replaces the multiple reports previously required to see the K-factor, Y-factor, bend tables, relation table, feature list reference parts and design rules violations. The new report features hotlinks that let you explore the model detail.
In some cases, these links will simply highlight the associated geometry in the adjacent window. In others, you can browse to additional detailed feature information. In the case of design rules, the hyperlink is the name of the rule that has been violated. Selecting the rule shows you exactly where the violation occurs on the model.
Suppose you placed a sheet metal cut too close to a bend line. The built-in sheet metal design rules will detect this potential problem, and simply selecting the hyperlink in the browser will highlight the area of the model where the problem exists and graphically shows you the dimension value.
UI shortcuts. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 has also consolidated the frequently-used Cut command, so the sheetmetal command is now able to anticipate the designer’s intent, as it does in the 3D model.
More time for creativity. These new enhancements will save you considerable time, most notably in two key areas: by cutting the number of mouse clicks; and by shortening or eliminating learning curves for certain operations.
“Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 gives engineers more time to think creatively, and that’s especially important today, when many products are becoming more stylized and much smaller,” says Brian Thompson, PTC Product Manager.
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