Automatic flat pattern view + quick export

Every drawing of a sheet metal part needs a flat pattern.

So we automated that with Drew.

Plus many more improvements. Let’s dive right in.

Automatic scaled flat pattern view

Many of our users create sheet metal parts and create drawings for those parts.

Having a scaled flat pattern view on these drawings is really useful:

  • For quotations
  • For the people in the workshop

Until now, Drew could not really handle these flat patterns.

Now when you click the Add button, this happens:

Automatic Flat pattern settings crosshair

Drew finds the sheet metal part (and its flattened configuration), adds a view (with dimension if you prefer that) and uses AutFit to fit all views on the sheet.

You can then decide whether you still want to flip or rotate the view. AutoFit runs after each action so you don’t have to drag views around.

In the next update, we will add even more options for flat patterns, like hiding the bend lines and the center marks.

Export to PDF, DXF, DWG

Exporting a drawing to PDF usually takes at least 6 clicks of the mouse.

We brought it back to 1.

Just click a button, done! We’ll use the same file name as the drawing.

If the drawing hasn’t been saved yet, we’ll ask you for one.

Export drawing to pdf dxf macro

(The buttons on the bottom line are to delete dangling annotations and to find missing balloons)

In a future update, we’ll add more possibilities like including the revision in the PDF file name.

Better automatic dimensions

We introduced this cool feature two months ago:

add outer dimensions

Nobody likes AutoDimension, so we built something from scratch.

We analyze the lines in the view and add dimensions accordingly. Like for rods and pipes:

Add view dimensions

In this update, we added support for arcs and silhouette lines. That means adding dimensions works for nearly all models now.

What are silhouette edges?

Silhouette lines are lines that do not correspond to an actual edge in a model.

Take this sphere for example. It has no edges, but there is a circle that defines the silhouette:

silhouette edges solidworks sphere

So from now on, we will use these silhouette edges to add dimensions as well.

There are two drawbacks though. SOLIDWORKS can be extremely slow creating these silhouette edges, up to one second per line. Their response: “yup, that’s just the way it is”. Not cool man, not cool.

That is why we decided to only include silhouette lines for parts and not for assemblies.

SOLIDWORKS also misses lines sometimes and there is no way around that, unfortunately.

Thickness dimension for sheet metal

This is a pretty cool one as well. When we add outer dimensions to a view and we notice it is a sheet metal part, we add a thickness dimension.

The result: two outer dimensions + a thickness dimension.

Sheet metal thickness dimension automatic, flat pattern

This automatic thickness dimension will save you another three or four clicks for every sheet metal part.

Other improvements

  1. Added option to enable/disable AutoFit and a button to run it manually.
  2. Added option to create views in the View Palette when creating a new drawing with Drew. We mean these views:
    View palette API
  3. Improved robustness and better error logging during startup of the add-in
  4. AutoFit now works around unknown views, instead of ignoring them.

Bugs fixed

If you find a bug, send us an email (see this article) or start a chat with us on this site.

We only had to fix two bugs this month:

  • Fixed bug that did not update the user interface after running AutoFit
  • Fixed issue when closing new drawing very quickly

Next up: more flat pattern settings. Bend lines, bend notes and crosshairs

For Drew version 2.6 we are working to give you more control over the flat pattern view.

That means you can include crosshairs, outer dimensions and bend notes for normals sheets. But when creating a 1:1 view, Drew can create a view with only cutting lines:

flat pattern bend notes, bend lines, center marks

We are also working on Smart Flip, so there are more UP bends than DOWN bends. Your workshop will appreciate this:

flat pattern smart flip bends up


That’s it for now. Go try it out:

create, edit and review SOLIDWORKS drawings twice as fast

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