Comparing Sheet Metal Design Methods

There are specific sheet metal features you can use to create sheet metal bodies quickly. However, in some circumstances when the design requires certain types of geometry, you can use non-sheet metal feature tools, then insert bends or convert the part to sheet metal. It is important when designing with sheet metal to think about the best approach to design the part. Although it may appear that using non-sheet metal features (such as extrudes and shells) and then inserting bends or converting to sheet metal is quicker, these options are also the least flexible.

When creating sheet metal parts, the order of design preference is:
  1. Sheet metal features (such as Base Flange, Edge Flange, and Miter Flange)
  2. Insert Bends feature
  3. Convert to Sheet Metal feature
When using the Insert Bends and Convert to Sheet Metal features, it is best to apply them as early as possible during part design, preferably right after you create the first non-sheet metal feature.

You can design a sheet metal part on its own without any references to the parts it will enclose, you can design the part in the context of an assembly that contains the enclosed components, or you can design the part within another part document in a multibody environment.

Create the part as a sheet metal part using sheet metal features. When you create a part initially out of sheet metal you can use the Base Flange tool with an open or closed profile sketch. This eliminates extra steps because you create a part as sheet metal from the initial design stage.
Build a part, shell it, and then insert sheet metal bends. If you build a solid using non-sheet metal features, you need more features: Base Extrude, Shell, Rip, and Insert Bends. However, there are instances when it is preferable to build a part and then insert sheet metal bends.

For example, conical bends are not supported by sheet metal features such as Base Flange and Edge Flange. Therefore, you must build the part using extrusions, revolves, and so on, then add bends to the conical part.

Convert a solid part to a sheet metal part. You can convert a solid or surface body, or an imported part.

The following links show how to build sheet metal parts using these methods.