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SolidWorks 2012 Tutorial

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SolidWorks Tips & Tricks

Bend Tables
SolidWorks allows you to create three different styles of Bend Tables: Bend Allowance, Bend Deduction, and K-Factor. But, the help file is not much help since it is out of date and talks about the old text file method of creating the tables. The sample tables provided aren't much help either, since they do not use the correct format. So, here's how to create your own bend tables with your bend data.

Create a new table directly in SolidWorks by pulling down the "Insert" menu and picking Sheet Metal, Bend Table, New.

When the Bend table dialog box appears, set the desired units to your normal working units. You may specify the units as: millimeters, centimeters, meters, inches, or feet. I think most of you will be in either millimeters or inches.

Next, select the type of table to what you are going to create (Bend Allowance, Bend Deduction, or K-Factor). This is where the fun begins.  Many people use the terms 'Bend Deduction' and 'Bend Allowance' interchangeably. But they are two different things. Take a look at the SolidWorks Help file topic: Bend Allowance and Bend Deduction to see the definitions of these terms. Most of you are used to using a wall chart with bend deductions, even though you call it bend allowance.

Here, we are going to show you how to make a Bend Allowance table.

Enter a name for the table. Do not use just a random name. Try to use a descriptive name that you can identify what this table is for, like the material type. Take a look at the path to make certain which folder you are placing the file in. You need this if you plan to use Excel to edit the table later. It is normally placed in "C:\Program Files\SolidWorks\lang\english\Sheetmetal Bend Tables\".

Finally, click the OK button. SolidWorks opens an Excel spread sheet for you with two tables and no data.

The Unit, Type and Material fields are filled in for you, however, the Material field is a default name and not something you told SolidWorks to put there. It's really just a text reference. You may enter any name or material type.

The rest of the worksheet is a series of charts based on material thickness. The vertical column A lists the angles of bend and a horizontal row lists the radii. Above each chart is the word Thickness and the thickness value..

If you are working in inches, the default charts SolidWorks created display material thickness and the radii values as fractions. You will probably want to change these to be in decimal format and show three or four decimal places.

By default there are only two charts in the file. But you will need one chart for each thickness. So, before you cut and paste these to make more, review and edit the Radius values to be only the radii you use in your manufacturing process. Donít eliminate all of them and tell me, you only use one radius. Think of all the different parts you make and come up with a real list of radii. The Gauge Table should already contain this information.

Now look down the list of bend angles. Do you need all of these? Again, donít just delete a bunch. Adding the extra data will help SolidWorks when it has to interpolate a value for you. List all of the angles that you regularly bend. But donít forget that 180 degrees is probably the angle of your Hem feature and may require a special radius value to go along with it.

Now that you updated the Angle and Radius values, copy (cut and paste) the chart as necessary to make one chart for each material thickness you manufacture from. Use the same thickness valus as in your Gauge table. If you donít have a Gauge table, make a chart for each of the material thicknesses that you use on a regular basis. Use the material thickness value, not the gauge name (Use .0478 not ď18 GaugeĒ).

To close the table, simply click the cursor anywhere on the screen outside of the table window. Once you close the table, you will need to use the "Edit" menu and pick Bend Table Ė Edit Table to reopen the table.

You are now ready to enter the real data into the charts. Start with the row for the 90 degree angle, since this will be the easiest. From there, work through each item of each chart entering the data. The Bend Calculator will be a big help for doing this.

Since different material types can have different thicknesses, such as galvanized versus cold rolled steel, you may need to create a separate Bend Table (file) for each of these. If you are using air bending and bottom bending techniques, you may need separate tables for this reason as well. 

This is a lot of work to get started, but once you have done it and tested the results, it should be good forever. Or at least until you change your manufacturing techniques.

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