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Text on cylindrical faces

At times you may need to get some text or a 2D sketch onto a cylindrical face. Since the sketching tools require you to use planar items to sketch on, this may seem impossible. However, there is a neat workaround. By using the sheet metal workspace you can accomplish this task in a fairly straightforward manner.

Step 1: Create the cylinder

In an empty, sheet metal part workspace, click on the Lofted Flange tool (Figure 1). In the Lofted Flange dialog box, select Circle-circle for the type of feature (Figure 2). Change the Primary Plane from the XY-Plane to the ZX-Plane (Figure 2) by clicking in the entry box and then clicking on the ZX-Plane in the Design Explorer. Enter a value of 5 inches for the diameter of the top profile; and then click OK to create the feature (Figure 3).

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


Step 2: Unroll the cylinder

Unroll the cylinder into a flat sheet by clicking on the Unbend tool on the Sheet Metal Modeling toolbar (Figure 4). In the Unbend dialog box click on the Select all bends button; and then click OK (Figure 5).

Figure 4

Figure 5


Step 3: Create text sketch

Activate 2D sketch mode on the large face of the flattened cylinder; and then click on the Text tool on the Sketching toolbar (Figure 6). In the Text Figure dialog box, type a few words into the entry box (Figure 7). A preview of the sketch figure will be attached to the mouse cursor. Position the text so that it fits within the face of the flattened cylinder; and then left-click once to place it. Click Apply and then Close to complete the sketch figure (Figure 7).

Figure 6

Figure 7


Step 4: Cut out the text

Click on the Cut tool on the Sheet Metal Modeling toolbar (Figure 8); and then click OK in the Cut dialog box (Figure 9).

Figure 8

Figure 9


Step 5: Restore the Cylinder

Click on the Rebend tool on the Sheet Metal Modeling toolbar (Figure 10). In the Rebend dialog box, click on the Select all unbent bends button; and then click OK to create the feature (Figure 11).

Figure 10

Figure 11


Step 6: What next?

Models created with this method can used further by several methods:

  • You can add standard part modeling features like extrusions, revolutions, etc, to the model by activating the Part Modeling toolbar from within the sheet metal part workspace. Please note that this usually eliminates the ability to flatten or unbend the model.
  • Once saved, you can use a boolean modeling operation to bring this sheet metal part into a standard part workspace.
  • You can export the model from the sheet metal part workspace as a .STP file; for further use in a standard part workspace or assembly.