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JD Mather

I thought I would let you off the hook (at AU) and not show you that your sheet metal flat pattern created from miter using Frame Generator is not a valid solution.

Rob Cohee

Hi JD, good to hear from you. I've heard that a couple times, I assume you are talking about the 45 deg edges that remain. It's a pretty easy fix to that, just edit the flat pattern, start a new sketch and cut out the long side by projecting edges. In the example that I showed, that worked for the guys that asked about it.

Twitter follower @BarnesMetal shared the same concern yesterday on Twitter too, shared the same flat clean up with him and his response was

"@robcohee I gotcha...Thanks again for the help. That video is going to be very useful to us. I'm tired of wrapping and slicing solid models."

When it comes to cleaning up those edges vs. doing mitered corners manually on sheet metal parts, cleaning up the flat seems to take less time.

Asle Svastuen


I have tried using both inner and outer option, but this makes no difference for the result. Bout dxf files look-alike. Is it just me or..

JD Mather

It would be really nice if work-arounds were not needed to get proper miters on sheet metal assemblies. ;~(
I've seen some similar examples that would not lend themselves to Frame Generator "solution".
In that case Multi-body solids and Derived Components was workaround solution. Maybe if Multi-body Sheetmetal was supported....


Hi Rob... As a SolidWorks user this whole Sheetmetal parts using Inventors Frame Generator looks very ugly. If I'm right Inventor isn't smart enough to realise that sheetmetal parts should have perpendicular edges, hence you either need to cut that material away as a secondary process or write custom scripting as a means of ensuring that your drawings are correct (but even then the model is wrong). Ewwww.

Thankfully for me SolidWorks already has the functionality to export sheetmetal bodies created using weldments without such workarounds, you can even right click the model geometry and select "Export to DXF / DWG" without the need for a drawing or a degree in computer programming. And yes the sheetmetal parts already have perpendicular edges, like they should have :)

Kevin E.

Oh man that sounds awesome Mattew. If only Inventor could export a flat pattern to .dwg, .dxf, or .sat by right clicking on the flat pattern. Oh wait....it can, since for a very long time now.

The iLogic code is an additional option for people that want to automate tasks in their design work, and all though it is fairly simple to use, it is apparently "above your pay grade".


Oh that's great Kevn, I'm glad to hear that Inventor has the capability to export directly from the flat pattern... but then why the need to write script to export to a flat pattern when you already have the capabilities as standard?? Oh that's right, because it doesn't do it the way it should. Being on the big bucks and having all of this extra work to do you must be rolling in it!

And thankfully I can use Multi-body sheetmetal, just like JD is wishing for, but then there're a lot of things that SolidWorks has that Inventor users are still wishing for!

Kevin E.

Well Matthew, we are currently on mandatory 55 hour weeks, so anything we can do to speed things up gets looked at. We are using a combination of VB, iLogic, and just starting to get into Intent to automate tasks.

Why would I want to right click on a flat pattern, choose saveas as .dxf, and then browse to the file location that it should go to when I can have a program that does this evertime I hit the save command?

And about JD. He is an expert and certified in either software, but seems to prefer Inventor. So what does that tell you?


Kevin I think you're missing my point, which is that Inventor should be smart enough to recognise that a sheetmetal part should have square edges (unless you say otherwise).

Whilst you may see the above workaround as a wonderful solution, you don't seem to see the inefficiencies in the way you're working. People like this user (http://www.augi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=126944) are scratching their heads for a better solution. I think Deippa may be exaggerating by say that it's "almost impossible", maybe more so just difficult, but considering that it states that you have to create "many features" to achieve what can be done in SolidWorks "with a single feature" and has had this capability for "many years" well it's hard to argue that this is a bandaid solution for a much bigger problem.

Don't get me wrong, SolidWorks has its own issues and niggles but let me ask you a question, would you have rather Autodesk resolve this issue that a number of users seem to be encountering or would you rather they add watercolor as a Visual Style? Obviously more people were after the watercolor option, right?

But then I don't know how many times I've seen Inventor users screaming out for a Centre Point Rectangle tool, just check the Inventor Wish Lists for an idea on this, but guess what... no such tool (oh apart from the one created by an Inventor user because it doesn't come as standard).

Which raises the point, does this mean that if I buy Inventor (no I'm not a user as you can probably tell) I'm going to have to rely on 3rd party plugins, learn the Inventor API and write my own custom scripts to get it to do what some other CAD programs do as standard?

As for JD, that's great he has qualifications for both pieces of software and I commend him on having the time to achieve this, but I'm sure he has lots of reasons for his preferences of one over the other, but then I'm sure that he'd not suggest that either is perfect, and that is what I was pointing out (SolidWorks doesn't have the watercolor option and this maybe a shortcoming to you). And like some other users, just like Alex_S and the post he made here (http://johnevansdesign.net/autodesk/mfg-pages/inventor/inventor-let-the-games-begin/), some will see other solutions and their benefits.

Ok enough bickering, have a great day! :)

Kevin E.

Well, you are missing the point a little bit too. The Frame Generator wasn't designed to create sheetmetal parts. Therefore, Inventor doesn't know that the part is a sheet metal part. I have pointed out to Rob on Twitter and elsewhere that I hope they develop the option in a future release. But it was designed to work with structural steel shapes, not sheet metal.

Second part, the watercolor option wasn't added as part of Inventor. It is something that was added to 3DS Max and when all of the Autodesk products got the unified material library, that came along with it. So no Inventor development time was used.

Finally, do you think any of the solidworks evangelists or employees would let me come on their blog and talk about Inventor? That is why Rob is cool.

Have a nice day.


I had the first comment on this blog the other day. I hit post and then saw it on the page afterwards but now its not there. Have you been deleting my posts rob?

Rob Cohee

The only reason I would delete a comment is if it has profanity or is otherwise obscene. I encourage open and even heated debate as long as it is professional. While some of the comments on this particular post wander into the gray area... I want the dialog to continue on this. Two reasons, if you need to make improvements, look in the mirror, listen to critics and make adjustments. Second, it shows the clear difference between our approach to using technology to solve design and engineering challenges and our competition. The focus always seems to be on features rather than full workflow solutions.

One person that commented decided to take this singular, very specific example and generalize it to be how we address all of our sheet metal workflows.

By letting the conversation continue, my readers ultimately realized the value of a flexible platform, thinking out of the box for alternative workflows, and automating common tasks.

Nobody here is doubting that SWx is a capable 3d modeling tool. If it sucked, people wouldn't buy it. Our users just seem to find much more value when they go beyond just the 3D model. Good dialog guys.

Scott Moyse

Thing is rob, i don't remember using profanity or obscenities. I do remember pointing out that autodesk seems to be working on cut file generation for CNC's not just sheet metal stuff from several different directions at the moment. I may have questioned why that was or something along those lines. Do you remember the post? cos it may have just not posted correctly.

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