Find us on Google+ Inventor Tales

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Using Sheet Metal Styles - Fusion 360 Style

So I've had a little more time to work with Fusion 360's sheet metal, and things are beginning to run a lot smoother. as I'm getting more familiar with the tool.

One of the things I've put a little of time into is sheet metal styles.  While making parts is the goal, and my favorite part of using any CAD system.  A solid foundation of sheet metal styles can go a long way to making sure your sheet metal parts are accurate and consistent.

Most of all, a good set of styles can eliminate a lot of repetitive work and make sure you spend most of your time modeling, instead of creating the same sheet metal for the umpteenth time!

To set up a sheet metal style, the first trick is to locate the style.  In Fusion, you'll find that in the Sheet Metal Workspace, on the Modify menu.

Finding your Sheet Metal Styles
Opening up the Sheet Metal Styles dialog box, you'll see two sections, In this design, and Library.   The styles located in the design are stored inside the current document.  But the library, those styles are available to any documents you want.


The Sheet Metal Styles dialog box

Fusion provided some defaults, but they didn't match what I needed, which in the case of this part was .032 ALCLAD Aluminum.

While Fusion doesn't provide us with this as an option, I do have a Aluminum (in), a generic aluminum, which I can copy to create my material.

You may have noticed that I've also got .051 and .040 ALCLAD already created.  I could have easily copied those as well.  But let's, for a moment, pretend they don't exist, and we'll start like I did from scratch, without any ALCLAD.

All you have to do is right click on the material you want to start from, in this case, Aluminum (in).  Choose "New Rule".

Creating a new rule

A new dialog box will appear where the parameters for the new rule can be entered.

The sheet metal styles dialog box.
Save the style, and congratulations!  A new Sheet Metal Style in Fusion 360.

The new rule is added to the library! 
Notice that since the rule I started from was located in the library, the new rule was also created in the library.  It's already a part of my library, and available to other parts.

But What if I Copied a Material That's Only Local in the Design? 

If you copied a material that's local to the design, just right click on it, and there's an option to Copy to Library, and the material can quickly be placed in the library so it can be available to other designs.

Copying from the local cache to the library

That's Wonderful!  But Now I Need to Change Styles! 

I poked around Fusion a little bit before I found this, mostly because I refused to resort to reading the instructions!  But to switch to a different sheet metal style, locate the Sheet Metal Style in Fusion's browser, and locate the Switch Rule option.

Switching Sheet Metal Styles


By choosing this you can select a rule located in your document, or in your library!

So have at it, and keep learning!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fusion 360 Sheet Metal - My First Impressions


So I've had a little time to work with Fusion 360's sheet metal tools.  And when I say "a little", I mean "A LITTLE".

My first Fusion 360 sheet metal part
All I've had is a couple of evenings to create a few simple sheet metal parts.  They're no more than a couple of brackets, but they're also enough for me to start getting acquainted with the tools, even if it's sill a quick introduction.

But what I was able to do was to get a bit of an impression of how Fusion 360 works, and figure out where I need to learn a little more.

And when I say a "little more", I mean "a lot" more.

I've used sheet metal in Inventor on and off for around 17 years now, so it goes without saying that I approached Fusion from the perspective of using it like it was Inventor.

So I'll just cop to the fact that I can't help but compare it to Inventor.

What is the the kids say these days?  "Sorry.  Not sorry."

And while Inventor was similar to Fusion 360 in many ways, it was very different in others.

Here are just a few I've noticed so far.

Sheet Metal Rules

They're actually a lot like Inventor's sheet metal rules.  It's similar enough, that I could make the jump pretty easily.

Fusion's Sheet Metal Rules.  I've created my own rule here.
I miss the thumbnail images that Inventor has in its sheet metal rules dialog, but I could navigate it pretty well based on the information provided by Fusion.

Bend tables and equations aren't in Fusion at this point, but even when they were available in Inventor, I never knew anyone who used them to generate flat patterns.

I'm sure there are that do use them, I just didn't encounter them in my travels.  This may be one of those "future update" items.

I was able to create a new sheet metal rule in a few minutes, all it takes is copying another, similar rule and changing it to meet my new requirements.

The Flange Tool

In Inventor, the Flange tool created flanges from existing faces, that's it.  if you wanted to create a C-channel in one step, you had to use "Contour Flange".  If you wanted a flat sheet metal face, you had to use the 'Face" tool.

Fusion 360 combines those three tools into one "Flange" tool.

Using the Flange tool to create a channel

Using the Flange tool to create a sheet metal face.
The Flange tool creating a straight up flange.

Once I figured this out, I came to like it.  To me, it's a simple, easy to use approach, at least in my opinion.

After all, it's much harder to hit the wrong button when there's only one button!

I also like how Fusion implemented the grips to change the flange height and angle.  It felt like a natural way to form the part.

After a few minutes of figuring out how it ticked, I liked the way they went with it!

Unfolding

Creating a flat patter from a folded part was easy for me.  Fusion 360 asks for a stationary face.  In other words, which face the part will use as its "anchor" to unfold around.

Selecting the stationary face for a flat pattern
Inventor did this as well, but to me, it didn't always seem obvious that you could provide Inventor with this information, especially to Inventor newcomers.  Although later releases of Inventor did address this with the "A" face tool.

In any, case, the functionality is essentially the same, just presented differently.

The flat patterned generated in Fusion 360


What Can be Unfolded?

See this part?  You're not unfolding this one! 
The rule of thumb I was taught for Inventor was if you could bend the part in a sheet metal brake, Inventor could unfold it.  Formed parts with a lot of deformation, or flanges around bends, aren't going to unfold in Fusion 360.

The same seems to hold true in Fusion 360, based on my few minutes of testing.  But I expected that, so there really aren't any surprises here.  

I just had to see if maybe, just maybe, there was  the computer aided equivalent of the Holy Grail in the unfolding tools!

In conclusion.

After what was, at most, two hours of seat time, I was able to generate some pretty simple sheet metal parts pretty easily.

There's some room for growth to be sure, but I'm sure improvements will be made in future updates.

The functionality that I've seen so far, I like!

And I do have to reiterate that I have very little time with Fusion 360 sheet metal, so it's even possible there may be functions I haven't even discovered yet!

So at this point, I'll enjoy, and continue to learn the functionality I have, and look forward to those updates in the future.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Sheet Metal in Fusion 360 has Officially Arrived!

After much angst and waiting, sheet metal has finally been officially released in Fusion 360.  Previously it has been warming up in the bullpen known as "preview".
Upgrade in progress!

This evening, upon getting hope from work, I started Fusion 360 and was greeted by the "Updating Fusion 360" announcement in the Job Status.  

Once the update completed, Fusion 360 asked me for a restart, and once restarted, a shiny new Sheet Metal toolbar made itself available.

Now I have to confess, this is the first time that I've seen Sheet Metal in Fusion 360.  16 weeks worth of evening classes and a full time job prevented me from having the time to really do much with the sheet metal package except for the occasional wishful thought.

The sheet metal tools!
So the reality of the matter is, I can only serve to announce "HEY LOOK! SHEET METAL IN FUSION!"

Yeah, I know, not much good for much am I?

But I did take a few quick "who needs the instructions!" swipes at the tool, just to see how it compared to the Autodesk Inventor I'm used to.

All told, I probably had, about 15 minutes of  seat time with it, so it's easy to argue that I'm not at a place to talk about the tool confidently.

So I'm not going to go into the things I love or hate about the sheet metal tools at this time.

It just wouldn't be fair or proper, one way or the other.

What I will say is that it is similar to Inventor, with it's flanges, rules and flat patterns, but there are some differences as well, such as no face tool, or "cut across bend"  that I've found so far.

But what I do have is a list of parts that I'm going to make, and once I get a few parts done, I'll have a better idea of how Fusion 360's sheet metal tool sizes up!

Stay tuned!



Sunday, August 06, 2017

Using Extrusion Templates in Fusion 360 Using Insert into Current Design

An F4U Corsair at Planes of Fame in Chino Ca.
Photo is mine.
As part of my Fusion 360 experience, I've been building different parts for a WW2 era Vought F4U Corsair.

Why am I doing it?  It provides me an opportunity to learn how a machine like this was put together, it challenges me to find ways to use Fusion to find creative ways to solve design challenges, and I flat out enjoy it!

And what's the point of doing it if it's not a least a little bit fun!

The planes I've used came via my subscription to Aircorps Library, who has done a marvelous job scanning and sharing plans for WW2 era aircraft.

And before you ask, sorry, I'm not sharing the plans.  I pay for my subscription with them, and I'm happy to support their efforts.  To me, sharing their plans without proper compensation would be tantamount to stealing their hard work.

But with that being said, here's what I've learned about how the engineers of the 1930s and 1940s who designed the Corsair, and here's how I was able to get Fusion to help me with my "recreation" efforts.

Many parts were created from extrusions,  These extrusions were in turn, machined to create various parts for different parts of the aircraft.

The "Make From" reference in the
drawing's title block
Due to this fact, the finished parts had a note to "make from", the "from" part referencing the standard extrusion.

Well the last thing I want to do is redraw the exact same shape for multiple parts!

So here's how I was able to use Fusion to make the extrusion profile available, and reusable, to multiple drawings.

It's actually quite simple.  The first step is to create the cross section of the extrusion in a Fusion 360 part file.  I opted not to extrude the part at this point in time.

A sample of the extrusion template
This part becomes my template for future use.

The next step is to insert the template into a new model file so I can create new parts from the template.

The goal of this is to insert the previously created sketch into a new model, and extrude this sketch to create a new part.



First start a new Fusion 360 file.  Once the file is open, browse to the location of your template, and choose "Insert into Current Design".

Choosing  "Insert into Current Design" to use the
template for the extrusion

This function links the extrusion profile into the new file.  Once the sketch has been inserted, the sketch can be extruded just like it had been created right in the part, instead of being linked in.

The part being extruded using Fusions std. Extrusion tool
Once the extrusion is created, you can work on the part just like any other Fusion 360 part.  You can add and remove material as needed to meet your design requirements.


That's the basics  of creating an extrusion template in Fusion 360.   At least that's how I've approached it.

So what are the advantages I found that drew me to this conclusion?

Well, for starters, I don't have to drawing the same shape over and over again.  That alone is reason to chose that route, at least for me.

Second, any new parts created from the template are linked back to that original template.  So in the event any changes have to be made to the template, the parts generated from the template will also update.

In the event that happens, it can be a lot easier to update several parts than have to transfer the same dimension to several parts, and run the risk of missing that one odd part.

So in conclusion, this is why I approached this file in this way.  You may come at it completely differently, or maybe just vary this process just a little bit.

It's up to you!  If you find a different approach, feel free to share  in the comments.



Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not
necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Planes of Fame Air Museum or AirCorps Library.