View Full Version : Solidworks to 2d plywood sheet, or do I need a different CAD

09-23-2010, 08:00 PM
Hi guys,

I'm wanting to build myself a small (1ft x 2ft) router/engraver machine. I made an assembly of the main pieces in SolidWorks so I could see how it all fits together. Now I can't quite figure out how to get them laid out to either print for me to cut and drill, or send to someone with a cnc router to do the cuts. I was able to put each part into one sheet of a drawing, it's nice that they update, but it's a pain to arrange them on the sheet. The drawing views get hard to select when they're close together. And when I save the file as a DXF or Adobe Illustrator, all the center marks and dimensions get saved, so I'd have to go in and delete all the extraneous stuff I don't need.

I'm a computer graphics artist and I've just taken up electronics as a hobby. I've only used AutoCad at school for 1 semester several years ago. I'm not even sure if SolidWorks is the right program for the job.

Is there a CAD or CAD/CAM program around that you can build plywood or MDF assemblies with and then have it unfold it into a nested sheet? I attached a picture of where I'm at so far.

Thanks for any insight,


09-23-2010, 08:55 PM
Do a separate drawing for each part,

For me, it's faster to draw the parts in 2D.

This will do what you want I think, but, it runs in AutoCAD, and isn't cheap.

09-23-2010, 10:24 PM
Dassault has a free 2d drawing program that has an Autocad feel, will open and save dwg dxf files.

09-24-2010, 12:05 AM
I've had luck doing multiple parts in SW.

Draw each part individually, then lay them out in an assembly.

Save the assembly as an STL - checking the option to save the entire assembly as a single STL file.

I use MeshCAM, it's a great piece of CAM software at a very reasonable price, and GRZ software offers a 30-day full feature trial.

Open the STL in MeshCam, add geometry support tabs, and toolpath.

I've done 20+ parts in a single job using this method.

09-24-2010, 06:45 AM
I'm not even sure if SolidWorks is the right program for the job
are you joking?

09-24-2010, 12:51 PM
fabconv, No, not joking. I'm not saying that SolidWorks isn't good at what it does. It's great for putting the parts together and having everything mated, but it doesn't do me any good if I have to redraw all my parts in another program to be able to cut them out. I know part of it is my inexperience with the program, and maybe it's not quite the right CAD to be used for what I want to do. Like using a wrench for a hammer.

CarbonKevin, I've got all my parts together as an assembly, I'll check MeshCam out.
EDIT: Well, I can't get SolidWorks to save my assembly as a single STL file.

09-24-2010, 03:59 PM
What version of SW are you running?

Explain the problem you're having getting it to save into a single STL further...what is happening/not happening?

Speaking to the overall "is SW right for this" question...yes and no.

I wouldn't have taken the parts into drawing format to arrange the nest, but if I were doing that, the trick is to use the tree in the left hand side of the screen to hide the pieces you're not trying to move, and using "lock view position" once they are where you want them to be.

Using the method I mentioned yesterday, I would take my master assembly, and either save a copy of it to use for my sheet layout, or create a "sheet layout" configuration of the master assembly. Either way, I would suppress all the mates that were used in the master assembly, then create new mates to arrange the panels, so that you could use common edges and whatnot.

Why did I say "yes and no"?

SW is not a nesting program. There are programs out there that allow ou to load multiple DXF files, and then the program will find the most efficient sheet layout based on the DXF files and parameters you've fed it.

To summarize, SW has many perfectly legit ways of creating a single cut nest from multiple parts, but the nesting will have to be done manually.

Does this help? If not, I'd like to see the assembly you're working with, maybe something's going on there...

09-24-2010, 04:45 PM
It's SolidWorks 2009. I don't know what the issue is exactly. I go into the options under save as for STL and when I turn on the save assembly as one STL and click OK nothing happens. It doesn't lock up or anything, I can still change the other options and cancel out, but nothing saves.

I didn't know about locking views, that'll help.

I like your idea of a "sheet layout" configuration, I was thinking of something along that line as well.

I included a screen shot of my assembly in my original post. it's still pretty basic, but I didn't want to go any farther if I couldn't get the pieces into a layout that I could use.

SW is so nice with having all the sketch relations and mates update automagically, I thought there would be a quick and easy way to layout the assembly flat if all the parts were a sheet type material.

Let me ask you this and it might give me some design insight. Let's say I wanted to build one of those little wooden dinosaur models, but I didn't know where to make the slots. The way that makes sense to me would be to make the main shapes as extruded parts and then arrange them in an assembly how I wanted them to intersect, and then edit the sketches to add the slots. Then I guess I would lay them out in a sheet configuration as you mentioned and I can make a drawing of that and export it as a dxf. And then have a CAM package do the nesting and tool paths. That makes sense I think.

09-24-2010, 06:49 PM
with your assembly open, select the part in the tree. click on open in the pop-up menu.
the part opens and select menu -File - save as - .dxf.(under options I use autocad 14 format, always works for me.) Input a file name, and click save. you then get options of which view (face) to save. click check and done. do this for each part you want to save.
using a 2d cad program such as Draftsight you can import them all into one drawing.