SOLIDWORKS gives users the freedom to design anything they can imagine. From heavy machinery, to bicycles and even abstract art. When it comes to producing those designs in the real world, however, our imaginations can sometimes run a little too wild and create something that is costly to manufacture. Fortunately, SOLIDWORKS has built-in tools that can help evaluate the manufacturability of your designs. DFMXpress is one of those tools. DFM stands for “Design for Manufacture.” It allows users to check for manufacturing parameters on parts that will be milled and/or drilled, turned with mill drill, formed from sheet metal or injection molded. In this article, we look at the top five features you already have in DFMXpress.
How to Access DFMXPress
If you own SOLIDWORKS, you already own DFMXpress. To enable it, simply select the Evaluate tab from the Command Manager toolbar and click DFMXpress Analysis Wizard. This will add an extra tab to the Taskpane tabs on the right, allowing you to access the tools and options for DFMXpress.
Now, let's look at the top five features in the tool.
Check for Standard Hole Sizes
In an ideal world, we would have drill bits for any size we could possibly need. Unfortunately, a machine shop or manufacturing facility is limited on the number of drill sizes that are available. DFMXpress allows users to check their design against a list of standard hole sizes. This ensures that holes on the design can be easily created, and additional costly milling operations are not required.
Check for Inaccessible Features
Occasionally, even experienced designers can slip up and place a feature where it cannot be accessed by a machining tool. In this case, a hole was placed within a surface that is inaccessible. There would be no easy way to cut this hole using traditional machining processes. Fortunately, DFMXpress detects these types of errors and can help resolve them before they become a problem in manufacturing.
Check for Hole Depth to Diameter Ratio
Holes that are both deep and narrow are often difficult to machine. There is a tendency for the drill bit to wander and/or break. It is also more difficult to remove the waste material, or chips, from the hole. Setting a maximum depth to diameter ratio helps check for these types of holes and can help ease the manufacturing process.
Check for Features That Could Distort Sheet Metal
DFMXpress has several checks for sheet metal parts that will analyze parameters to ensure there is no unintended distortion of the sheet metal part. In this example, our countersunk hole is too close to the edge of the part, which could result in distortion of the sheet metal near the hole. DFMXpress can also check if the spacing between holes is too close, which could also lead to distortion. There is an additional check to determine if the bend radius is too small, which could introduce cracking in the material as it is bent.
Check for Wall Thickness on Plastic Injection Molded Parts
Walls that are too thin present numerous problems for plastic injection molded parts. It can be difficult to fill these smaller areas, and higher mold stress is typically developed, potentially causing structural issues. DFMXpress will identify any walls that fall below the threshold that is specified within the settings.
Even the best engineers and designers occasionally make mistakes. Thankfully, DFMXpress provides additional checks to catch problems that could hinder manufacturing earlier in the design process. It’s simple to enable and use, and best of all, is included at no additional cost in your SOLIDWORKS installation.
While we’re in this topic, did you know we offer a Design for Additive Manufacturing course? You can request it from your TriMech Sales Territory Manager. Learn more about this class and see if it’s the right fit for you and your team.