Flatten Surface

Available in SOLIDWORKS Premium.

SOLIDWORKS can any face, surface, or set of faces to create templates for manufacturing. This is useful when working with developable surfaces such as sheet metal parts with non-standard bends.

The SOLIDWORKS software can flatten developable and non-developable surfaces and faces. A developable surface is a surface that can be flattened onto a plane without distortion. Non-developable surfaces and faces deform when flattened.

You can select curves and sketches on the surface to flatten. You can also select curves, sketches, and edges on the surface to be relief cuts or split lines. When you flatten a surface, SOLIDWORKS generates a flattened surface body tangent to the edge it was flattened from.
Folded surface Flattened surface tangent to the folded surface
A Flatten-Surface feature appears in the FeatureManager design tree. You can move the Flatten-Surface feature using Move Body. Click Insert > Features > Move/Copy.

You can use the Measure tool to check your flattened surface for accuracy. Measure the surface area of the folded and flattened features. If there is a large discrepancy between the surface areas, the flattened feature might not be accurate. You can also use deformation plots to check for accuracy.

Flattening Multiple Faces/Surfaces

You can flatten multiple faces/surfaces into one flatten-surface feature, as long as the faces or surfaces meet the following requirements:

  • Multiple surfaces belong to the same surface body.
  • They can be flattened from the same vertex or point.
  • They form a developable surface.

Flattening Faces of Solid Bodies

You can flatten the faces of a solid body. This is useful in creating decals, working with fiberglass boat hulls and body panels, and other cases where an exterior surface is added to a solid body.
You can flatten in one continuous direction. For example, to flatten the surface of the lantern top, you need to create two flatten features. Each feature contains a series of coincident faces aligned in one continuous direction.
Lantern top One flattened surface Both flattened surfaces

Deformation Plot

To view a deformation plot of the flattened surface, right-click the surface and click Deformation Plot . The deformation plot shows the areas on the flattened surface with the highest levels of stretch and compression. You can mouse over the surface to see the percent of deviation at any given point.