Cloudy Forecast for Sheet Metal Is Actually a Good Thing
Kyle Maxey posted on February 08, 2017 | | 1891 views
Sheet metal design has traditionally been a laborious process that takes incredible foresight, and oftentimes numerous design iterations. Bend sequences, bend radii and other factors can conspire to put a project off track if a deep understanding of sheet metal manufacturing isn't etched into a designer's mind. In an effort to eliminate the need for a PhD in metal manufacturing, Onshape is announcing that, in an upcoming release, it will be introducing a cloud-based “Simultaneous Sheet Metal” design technology that makes sheet metal design much easier and more productive.

For those who have had to design sheet metal parts, the frustration lies mainly in the user experience. Sheet metal designers know right off the bat that they'll have to work in a single mode, either flat, folded or tabular, when creating a part. Because engineers can't visualize the many stages that exist in the production stages and manufacturing instructions that accompany a sheet metal part in a single view, interferences and folding errors can occur.

Onshape's engineers think they’ve solved this dilemma by creating a user experience that puts the folded, flat and tabular information at a designer’s fingertips in one view. What’s more, Onshape's Simultaneous Sheet Metal option leverages the cloud to link each mode together through automatic and immediate updates, meaning that if a change is made in one mode, it updates simultaneously in all other modes.

“Instead of having to bounce back and forth between separate sheet metal views, Onshape users can deliver faster design iterations and higher quality parts at a glance,” said principal software engineer Lana Saksonov, project leader on Onshape’s sheet metal team. “Having the flat view available simultaneously with the folded view lets the designer see the manufacturing impact while he or she is still modeling.”

With Simultaneous Sheet Metal, the chance of making errors in a sheet metal design are virtually eliminated thanks to the ability to visualize all changes on the fly.

The engineers at Onshape also realized that sheet metal design is almost always done in conjunctionwith a third party and built their sheet metal tool to be collaborative. Like other Onshape documents, sheet metal parts can be shared in a variety of ways with anyone on your team, allowing third parties like sheet metal manufacturers to edit, say, the bend angles of a part to suit their tooling. This simple but powerful feature can dramatically reduce the time it takes to go from design to manufactured part, and that’s no small feat when talking about sheet metal design.

While Simultaneous Sheet Metal appears to be a powerful new addition to Onshape, the company has yet to assign a date forits release, saying only that it will appear in software “in a near-term release.”

For more information about Simultaneous Sheet Metal, visit Onshape’s blog.

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