This weeks tech tip question was submitted by Patrick Scheffer, Sr. Mech. Engineer, Xenon Corporation:
Patrick asked, “Is it possible in SolidWorks to apply a coating/plating to parts? For example if I have a copper housing with nickel plating, can I specify how thick and what material the coating is? I’m mainly interested in providing accurate weight estimates and thermal management.”
There isn’t a specific command or feature that will allow for this functionality. There is a specific workflow, however, that we will share with you. Please refer to the video below for a visual guide.
There are two commands you will use to accomplish the ‘coating’, Knit (surface) and Thicken. Complete the model geometry to the point of coating. Use the ‘surface knit’ command (access from either the knit icon on your surface toolbar or Insert > Surface > Knit…) to create a skin around the model. You will have to select all of the faces individually, so I recommend enabling your ‘face filter’ (either use hotkey ‘X’ or hit ‘F5’ to toggle the Selection Filter toolbar and click on the face filter) and window selecting the entire model. You will need to rotate your model to ensure that you’ve selected all of the exterior faces. After you’ve selected all of the faces, be sure to check the ‘merge entities’ option and click OK. Next, choose the Thicken… command (either from Insert Boss/Base or the surfaces tool bar), choose the knit surface body, specify the thickness, choose the direction to thicken, and make sure that you disable ‘merge result’.
Now you should have two solid bodies which you can see from the Solid Bodies folder in the feature tree. Expand the Solid Bodies folder, right click on either of the bodies shown, choose material and specify the material for the first body. Repeat the last step for the second body. You now have a ‘coated’ or ‘plated’ part.
There are currently two open enhancement requests to allow for plating:
SPR 542587: There should be a “Add Coating” or “Add Cover” command similar to the routing functionality in core SolidWorks
SPR 545691: Ability to create coating feature which will thicken part surfaces for accounting surface coating and consider it in dims and tolerance calculations
If you wish to increase the probability that these enhancement requests will be added to SolidWorks core functionality, then login to the SolidWorks Customer Portal and cast your vote for them!!
Comment from Jason Pancoast, CAPINC engineering manager:
“Good one Al!
There is another technique to accomplish the plating effect in thematically the same way:
1. Insert – Features – Move/Copy… Make a copy of your part so you have 2 identical solid bodies.
2. Optional: Hide the original body for clarity of next steps.
3. Insert – Features – Shell… Set the desired thickness; if desired, select any faces which would NOT get plated; if no faces are selected, you will have to choose which solid body to shell. SHELL OUTWARD!
4. You now have 2 solid bodies representing the original part and its plate coating. You can set the materials differently for each body or Combine them into a single body.
Depending on the complexity of the shape, and the faces which receive plating, you may have more or less success thickening faces (Al’s suggestion) or shelling (Jason’s suggestion). It depends. In extreme examples you may need a combination of both techniques.”