I learned something today that could help others starting out. This totally changes many of my current workflows, will allow me to use Sync and solve many of my sheet metal problems.
Even when a menu is grayed out, there are usable functions below the grayed out menu items. Now I have the ability to edit flat patterns while it's flat. I was finding many of my designs to be impossible without the ability to cut the flat patterns.
Menu's should not be gray if there is anything that can be used under it!
When things are folded or get a 3 way corner, material is/can be removed from the model and the flat no matter what. This leaves an un-punchable shape. Now I have a way to fix it.
Yes, at least as much as I can. When it's possible I want the model to match the flat pattern to match the exported flat pattern.
Once that setup of the file is complete and working well, then when the model is re-sized, I know the flat pattern and the folding table I make are all correct without much checking. I frequently copy the draft and associated model files, change the overall size and gages, but all the details remain the same.
It take me about 30 min each piece of sheet metal to make folding tables that present back gage and stick out for each part. That is just one portion of the draft files.
Most of our tanks are a collection of 10 to 20 parts. I have to re-size about 5 tanks a week.
I need to get to the point where I have all 70 of our tank designs complete correlation between model, flat draft, bending draft, and exported flat.
We have not moved to nesting software yet, but have plans too in the next few months. Each option for nesting software grabs the flat patterns in different ways and with a variety of editing options. We use a punch for 20 Gage....12 Gage, and a plasma for 10 Gage +
The punch avoids all grinding except microfibers becuase there is no heat effected zone. Anything thicker than 12 Gage wears out the punch tooling too fast. Most of our welds are seal welds enclosing tanks.
With the kind of volume of one off parts we create, I will be avoiding any one by one editing of flats at all costs. Even if that cost is an extra $20K for the price of the nesting software and more time setting up model files. When all set up, I want to edit the XYZ of a tank, edit whatever gages are required, print new PDF's and export/next all new flats in under 30 min.
Since a tab can only have a single profile per feature, I've started making a sketch, including the geometry I need, then use a delete face. This way I can just do a cutout, and I can do multiple profiles in that cutout. Many of the parts we make have knockouts, so the part can be rolled, then the cutouts removed after. This is very good for that.
Here, I put together a simple example. I've used delete face inside the flat pattern creating an exaggerated knockout feature. There are many instances where knockout features are needed, and many times I need them to connect in many places because if they aren't when we roll it it will make flat areas that need to be round.