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New Sheet Metal Features in Alibre Design v12

Version 12 of Alibre Design introduces two new feature tools for the sheet metal part workspace: lofted flange and contour flange. The lofted flange tool enables creation of conical, pyramidal, and circle-rectangle transition features that can be unfolded into flat patterns. Contour flanges allow users to create sheet metal parts from an end-on perspective. With the contour flange tool, several flanges, bends and a tab can be created at once. Take note that contour flanges and lofted flanges, like tabs, are base features. Only a single base feature is allowed per sheet metal part workspace.

Contour Flange

Creating contour flanges is very similar to creating the thin wall features available in previous versions of Alibre Design. A sketch is created corresponding to the edge-on view of the sheet metal part; and then that sketch is “extruded”. There are some important rules to obey when creating sketches for contour flanges:

  • Lines and circular arcs are the only permissible figures in contour flange sketches
  • Arcs must be constrained tangent to any adjacent lines or arcs
  • No disjoint profiles are allowed… only a single, continuous set of figures
  • Closed profiles are allowed… but NOT circles
  • Sketches must contain at least one straight line segment

Once you’ve created a valid sketch, click on the contour flange button on the sheet metal modeling toolbar . You’ll notice in the contour flange dialog box that there are a lot of options. For your initial explorations of the contour flange, just modify the depth of the “extrusion”; and then click OK to create the feature.

A contour flange feature can be converted into a set of tab and flange features that are characteristic Alibre Design’s sheet metal tools prior to version 12. This allows you to modify the shape of the individual flanges. To do this, right-click on the contour flange feature in the Design Explorer and select Explode from the menu (NOTE: you cannot un-explode to return to a contour flange feature).

Cylindrical Shapes with Contour Flanges

Cylinders can be created with contour flanges via the technique illustrated below. Reference geometry can be applied to such features in a manner consistent with other cylindrical parts. Note that the length of the tangent line segment is large in order to illustrate the details of the sketch.

Lofted Flanges

Lofted flanges are available in three different varieties: rectangle-rectangle, circle-rectangle, and circle-circle. The shape names refer to the profiles on each end that are “lofted” together. The circle-circle flange can be used to create cylinders when the profiles are set to the same size. Elliptical profiles are also possible with the circle-circle type flange.

Creating lofted flanges differs from other feature creation methods in Alibre Design in that no sketches are required. To create a lofted flange feature, click on the lofted flange button on the sheet metal modeling toolbar .In the lofted flange dialog box, click on the picture of the type of lofted flange that you want to create:

Set the parameters that govern the size of the end profiles and shape in the dimension entry boxes located in the large, central area of the dialog box; and then click OK to create the feature.

Important Notes for Lofted Flanges

  • Once created, a lofted flange’s type cannot be changed (from circle-circle to rectangle-rectangle, for example).
  • Lofted flanges CANNOT be exploded into a set of flanges plus a tab./li>
  • Fillet radii must be LESS THAN half of the shortest edge length for rectangular profiles:

  • To create elliptical profiles with circle-circle lofted flanges, you must de-link the two values for the profile; and then enter non-equal values.

  • To create cylindrical shapes with circle-circle lofted flanges, enter the same value for the size of both profiles.