This is a continuation of my series “Holy Sheet Metal Batman“, taking a deep dive into Autodesk Inventor’s Sheet Metal Environment. Let’s look at probably the least utilized feature, Contour Rolls. Why is it not utilized? Just because it is not needed by most users as it creates shapes not always doable with standard press brakes.

Contour Rolls are used to create rolled sheetmetal feature. Like the Contour Flange, it creates complex models with a very simple process. Think of Contour Flange as extrusions and Contour Rolls are revolutions.

The Contour Roll starts with a sketch. The sketch can only contain lines and arcs and must be an open profile. Depending on the unroll method (see below) the sketch may need a center line. Like all Inventor Sheet Metal features, Inventor will automatically create bends at line intersections.

Inventor SM - Contour Roll Sketch

After initiating the feature, it should automatically locate the profile and the center line (if a center line exists). Using the Shape options you can select the profile / centerline or make adjustments if the wrong objects are selected. The direction options set the direction for the thickness offset: Inside, Outside or Midplane.

Inventor SM - Contour Roll Initial

The Rolled Angle Section defines the rolling angle and the direction. The Rolled Angle defines the amount of rotation (Revolution).
Inventor SM - Contour Roll Rolled Angle

Set the Unroll Method by picking one of the four options: Centroid Cylinder, Custom Cylinder, Developed Length, and Neutral Radius. This specifies how the feature should be unrolled when the flat pattern is generated. All four produce similar results but differ in the input required. All methods derive the Developed Length by multiplying the Rolled Angle by the Neutral Radius.

  1. Centroid Cylinder uses a parallel axis to the revolute axis which passes through the evaluated Centroid location. This is the default method.
  2. Custom Cylinder requires a sketched line representing the surface of the cylindrical neutral surface
  3. With Developed Length specify the amount that “drives” the developed length of the flattened rolled segment
  4. The Neutral Radius option parametrically determines a value for the neutral radius

Inventor SM - Contour Roll Unroll Options


As with all Sheet Metal features additional features can be applied to form the final results. In this example, I project the end face into a new sketch and use Contour Flange to add length

Inventor SM - Contour Roll Base Model

Inventor SM - Contour Roll Base with Flange

See the feature in action!

Feature Image “Contour 3” by Bodie Strain