All the sheet metal packages I've seen can handle unfolding along a straight edge. But what if the edge is a 3D path, with turns, maybe even an edge with different bend radii? The latest edition of Visi was shown to handle complex edge unfolding at the recent IMTS, the industry's preeminent trade show that every 2nd year fills up ALL of Chicago's cavernous McCormack's halls.
I wondered how Visi would know how to deform material as it went from design shape to flat, especially if reliefs are not provided. We use FEA, says Ed Patterson, VP of technology at Vero. Finite element analysis for die designers?” Ed seemed to sense my concern. Vero customers are spared from having to learn FEA as the analysis is done "under the hood." During analysis, there is no mention of FEA, meshing, etc.
But what about tearing of material, such as what would happen if a not-ductile-enough material was flattened? We can select the material type so that the material properties would govern most aspects of the unfolding, said Ed. This does make the unfolding physics based, not just geometry based. But showing tearing as material surpasses its ultimate stress? No, that really would be magic*.
The part shown above was unfolded in several steps, not one button push. In some cases, some manual intervention was required to help find the fold line as it meandered up one side of the part and down the other. “But” in the end, the result was one flat blank, despite fold lines that went every which way in 3D space as well as through varying radii fillets.
I expect manufacturers of stamped metal parts to be jumping for joy at Vero Visi 16.
*Though, not automatic, each step of the unfolding can then be checked for stresses including thinning conditions and potential areas for splitting with Visi Blank after the different stages of unfolding are completed