SolidWorks 2015 includes a new surface feature called “Flatten Surface.” This handy new tool is available in SolidWorks Premium and allows a user to flatten a surface. The surface must be enclosed, meaning it cannot have holes or cut outs in its geometry.
This part has seemingly simple geometry, but it would be difficult to convert it to sheet metal and create a flat pattern. Sheet metal flatten can only un-bend in one direction at a time. Surface flatten can be used to have an approximate flat pattern of the part. Surface Flatten Is located under Insert>Surface>Flatten.
The user selects the surface they want flattened and a vertex or edge to act as the fixed entity to flatten from. A preview of the surface shows in the graphics window.
The user has more control over the surface using the Primary Edges selection, which sets which edges are not changed in length or direction when flattened. Primary edges must be boundary edges or must bisect the faces to be flattened. Incomplete primary edge selections display with a *. The user can also change the accuracy of the surface. More accurate surfaces will take longer to calculate for complex shapes.
With the feature finished, rather than replacing the existing face or surface, a new body is created. It acts any other body and can be hidden or isolated.
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