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Sheet metal cuts

Sheet metal cuts

(OP)
Occasionally I work with sheet metal parts, but not in the typical sheet metal fashion. The company I work for creates pipe panels and a lot of the time those panels get cover plates(3/8" thick) welded to the back of them, which almost always guarantees that the plates are either rolled, or conical. There is no room to weld these from the pipe side, so we cut slots through the top for welding. These slots need to be located on the pipe center lines. We also have connections that come up through the plate.

I'm coming from solid edge, where I would typically use "Normal Cutout" to cut these holes and slots. The problem I run into is that for the flat pattern, I need all holes and radii to be true holes and radii, so that I can properly order the plates. In the conical shape, the "Normal Cutout" would create a straight extrusion, and at the intersection point of the part, would then turn and cut perpendicular to the cone. (see attached image- the cone is shown in wire frame, the cutout shape is rectangular, and the cutout direction is in red. You can see that the actual operation produces a cut perpendicular to the cone)

I have looked through a few threads and I have seen that this feature doesn't exist in inventor and that the typical workarounds are to create a conical surface and "trim" the ares for the cuts, and then to thicken the surface. In a simple case with a few cutouts that is fine, but I'm often working with panels that have anywhere from 10 slots to 300 slots. When I trim the surface, it only allows me to trim one cut at a time. This means that my browser tree could end up with 300 trim commands, which is not only taxing on myself, but the computer as well. I have experimented with it.

My question is: What would be the best way to go about doing plates like this?
Everything must be located in the conical shape, but true in the flat pattern.

I tried to attach an example assembly below. Keep in mind that I made these with arbitrary dimensions. in most cases the pipes are much closer together.

Any help or insight would be appreciated.

RE: Sheet metal cuts

Have you tried the Unfold/Refold tools?

Also Inventor 2015 which was just announced on the 27th has a new Cut Normal feature for Sheet Metal parts. That might solve your problem altogether with an upgrade.

RE: Sheet metal cuts

(OP)
Of course. The unfold and refold tools are the go-to options right now, but when dealing with conical shapes it generally turns into a trial and error process.

I did not hear about 2015 release yet, and if what you say is true, then that is fantastic news. I will check into it.
Thanks for the reply and information!

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