3D sheet metal fabrication

Alibre’s 3D parametric modelling software is to be integrated with Amada’s production sheet metal fabrication machines.

Alibre and the Amada Company have entered into a multi-year relationship that will see CAD vendor Alibre’s 3D parametric modelling software bundled with machine tool vendor Amada’s production sheet metal fabrication machines. Products are planned for release later this year.

Alibre and Amada expect that the primary beneficiaries of their 3D-based solutions will be the majority of sheet metal fabricators who currently use 2D almost exclusively.

According to the two companies, while many popular solid modelling vendors have offered sheet metal design features for years, virtually all of them rely on simplistic unfolding algorithms that do not reflect the true capabilities of the machine tool.

As a result, sheet metal fabricators typically redesign 3D models in 2D to allow them to develop the correct flat patterns that enable the most efficient fabrication of the part.

This widespread regeneration of data leads to inefficiencies in the product development process, resulting in production delays, decreased quality and increased cost as errors are inadvertently introduced.

‘Our partnership with Amada will finally produce a solution that offers sheet metal fabricators the financial incentive to adopt 3D,’ said Greg Milliken, President and CEO of Alibre. ‘Prior to our solution, 3D was nice to have, but it didn’t speed up the process. In fact, it often risked slowing it down. Consequently, sheet metal shops simply stayed with 2D, like many others who have not embraced 3D CAD.’

Milliken added: ‘While there are significant benefits for the fabricator from working with 3D, there will also be advantages for designers who use Alibre Design and are able to deliver their 3D model to a machine shop using an Amada machine tool. For example, it will be possible to generate the flat pattern that will map exactly to the capabilities of the machine with no recreation of data. This will offer users a complete design to manufacturing solution.’