My favorite addition to Inventor 2016 is most likely Sheet Metal. That’s not to say that other great enhancements were less impressive, but that sheet metal design has been waiting on these improvements for some time.

Autodesk Inventor Sheet Metal Multi-Body

These improvements include:

  • Zero bend radius support
  • Material thickness detection in standard part to sheet metal part conversion
  • Punch tool shows center selection count
  • Dialog Enhancements

Multi-body Support for Sheet Metal

This is the cat’s meow; Top down workflows through Make Components and Make Parts allows users to write out components and generate separate flat patterns.

New Solid body option includes Face, Contour Flange, Contour Roll, Lofted Flange, and Split, with multi-body workflows for many others.

During the ‘Convert Part to Sheet Metal’ command, sheet thicknesses are automatically determined by detection from a selected face when prompted.

A Quick Run-Through

I needed to put something to the test and then show here, because most of my readers are “all text and no pictures makes Jack bored silly”. I didn’t have but an hour to spend, so I threw this seal mount together, and later decided to integrate it into a bulkhead instead.

Sheet Metal Part Creation

I started with a 2D sketch, from which I turned a contour roll of 0.063” aluminum with 1.5” flanges in a single motion. I unfolded the half circle shape, so that I essentially had an L-angle, and added two mating end flanges, as well as the bolt and rivet holes by rectangular pattern.

Finally I refolded the structure (still amazing and cool that all the features hold together), and added a circular pattern of two components to copy the structure around the circle, making sure to pick the New Body option.

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet metal make components

Inventor created a mating duplicate body, both of which I quickly wrote out to an assembly using the Create Components command. As you might imagine, the two components were placed and grounded just as if they were regular part bodies.

Flat Patterns

I remembered reading how flat patterns were associated with each individual part file, so I edited one, and sure enough, the option to Edit Flat Pattern was there.


Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal Flat pattern

Another Body

I returned to the multi-body sheet metal part, and turned off the lower seal ring support. I created a Face for a new body, and added another contour roll, flanges, and fasteners with typical operations.

Once again I wrote the part out, and used Component Replace to swap the bulkhead into the lower seal ring’s place.

Yep, you guessed it, it worked perfectly.

0 Bend Radius Support

I thought that it would be a good idea to test the 0 bend radius on this odd back and forth operation I had going. I edited the upper seal contour roll, and changed the radius to 0. Everything updated properly. Inside radius was 0, and outside of sheet radius was the sheet thickness.

Autodesk Inventor 2016: Sheet Metal 0 bend radius


I am quite happy to get multi-body sheet metal into Inventor finally, a functional part of the overall design process. Is there anything remaining that needs to be handled?

Sure, like more aviation type manipulations for example. However, these additions are a real winning addition and are something that we can build new workflows from immediately.