Attack I say! Attack and plunder the riches… of … imported… geometry and… stuff. Ok, battle faces everyone, we’re on a warpath today, a warpath to create usable 3D geometric data from imported files.

It’s an interesting issue submitted by a user tired of recreating sheet metal part when he already has a 3D .IGES model, just so he can have a usable flat pattern. Normally, this is easy. You think, “Oh, a simple sheet metal bracket, just use an Insert Bend feature and grab a snack.” But what if it has features that can not be recognized in the process?

That, feature-based fans, is a whole different monster waiting to be slayed. Are you up for it? How would you suggest approaching this problem?

The Sheet Metal Beast!
Here’s the part. You’ll notice it has a very nice form feature the cuts right into the bend. How would you go about converting this imported file into a sheet metal part?

green arrow downloadImported SolidWorks Bracket (Parasolid File, .X_T)

How can you flatten this imported sheet metal part?

One Solution
Here’s one solution for how to deal with imported geometry, that may seem simple, but is actually made up of unrecognizable features. The tip? simplify it.

Greg Dennis, a Design Engieer with Photo Etch, submitted this solution that removes the faces of the formed area, then turns it into converts it to sheet metal. It leaves out the form area, that you will have to re-create, but it does allow you to get the flat pattern that can then be used for CNC.

green arrow downloadDownload the imported sheet metal part solution

Thanks Greg for taking this on. If you think you have a better solution or how best to deal with imported sheet metal geometry, leave a comment or email your suggestion to


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.