Welcome to the first post of our series looking at Autodesk Inventor Sheet Metal. In this first article, let us look at the one feature that is able to leap buildings in a single bound… is more powerful than a locomotive… faster than a speeding bullet… Sheet metal Faces!


Faces are the equivalent to part modeling extrusions, except they honour the sheet metal thickness parameter. This means that you do not specify the extrusion height, the Face automatically becomes linked to the thickness parameter. Changing the thickness adjusts the faces in the model.

Christopher Reeve said “What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely.” At the surface, Faces appear mild-mannered and very simple, not unlike Clark Kent. However, sheet metal Faces are so much more than just automatic-thickness-extrusions. Faces will automatically build bends. Faces can connect disconnected faces. Knowing the power contained within the Face feature makes for smarter models and will lead to less effort. Its like finding the phone booth and changing from Clark Kent into the Man of Steel himself.

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to soar higher than any plane!

Building Faces

Just like extrusions, faces require a sketch as the start point. With the initial face of the model, there is not much to do. Once you’ve selected the Profile (if there are multiple closed loops) you can flip the offset direction

Face - CreateNew to 2016 is the option to add solids with subsequent face features.

Face - Multi Solid

As mentioned earlier, Face are more than simple extrusions. Faces are capable of adding Bends.

Scenario #1 – Auto Bend Creation

When one of your sketched edges is colinear to an existing model edge, the face recognizes this and automatically adds a bend to the model. This bend defaults to the Sheet Metal style settings, but for the active face you can override the settings directly in the dialog (Bend Radius section).

Add Bend Automatically

Scenario #2 – Edge Selection

Inventor Sheet metal supports disconnected faces, in that you can layout faces in the model that are not connected. They are features of the same solid model, meaning you can position the faces in the desired location and then connect them with bends after.

Face - Add Bend

Faster than a streak of lightning! More powerful than the pounding surf! Mightier than a roaring hurricane!

Scenario #3 – Parallel Faces

Parallel Faces

When a parallel face is created and the edge selected for bend creation the dialog expands to show the Double Bend option Four options are available: Fix Edges, 45 Degree, Full Radius, and 90 Degree. The toggle within the dialog switches the fixed edge, as in which one remains in position and the one that adjusts to create the double bend.

Double Bends

Adding Bends

Bends can be added after creating the faces. This is useful when you are not quite sure how you want the faces connected at the time of created. As the faces can be disconnected you can lay them out in the model first, say building a container, then add the bends to complete the shape after.


So what makes Faces so super? In many situations, the entire sheet metal model can be created using just this feature. Also, some things like Full Radius double bends are much more efficiently created with Faces / Bends than with any other feature.

photo credit: Superman via photopin (license)

photo credit: Laying On My “S” via photopin (license)