Even with CAD technology, there are no good designs. There are only bad designs, and a sheet metal fabricator has to select the best out of all the bad designs to fabricate sheet metal components with an expectation to optimize costs.
Bad designs are a consequence of lacking synchronization between 2D CAD drafts and 3D CAD modeling with fabrication shop floor conditions. Fabricators wish that the design engineers would optimize the products design features to reduce production cost, while design engineers are keen on optimizing component’s performance.
Bad CAD designs are proof that there is a need of enhanced communication between fabrication shop floor and CAD jockey. All sheet metal fabricators wish that their design engineers would get constructive feedback or a shop floor tours to improve upon the bad designs.
Unleashing the trade secrets of sheet metal fabrication to sheet metal design engineer, working in a typical CAD station, and aloof from fabrication shop floor is one of the epic challenges. This is the reason why fabricators are availed with bad designs.
Although sheet metal design engineers employ Design for Manufacturing – DFM strategy while designing, and keep the designs aligned with fabrication, there are instances when bad designs emerge from shop floor.
Regardless of DFM offering a comprehensive understanding for ‘how easy it is to fabricate a part?’ some designs are easy to develop than others. This is because, beyond skills and knowledge, sheet metal fabrication trade is a combination of material properties, tools and machines. The right question to ask should rather be, ‘Do the fabricators have appropriate tools and machines for fabrication?’
A CAD Design Workflow for Fabrication
As long as the goal of design engineer is only to please the fabricator, what you model is more important than how you model. However; when times are changing to efficient fabrication and costs are to be optimized, CAD platforms like SolidWorks dedicated to sheet metal are leveraged to help maintain the design consistency.
A clear purposed design technique, parameter controlled features and CAD features specifically for sheet metal designs such as Product Manufacturing Information – PMI and...