DXF flat pattern export and the .ini file


Autodesk Inventor not only creates 3D components that have to be milled or turned to be manufactured, it also has the ability to create sheet metal components where a flat pattern is created for the part to be laser, plasma or waterjet cut.

For the 2D cut to take place from the flat pattern either we can use InventorCAM (which is included in the Product, Design and Manufacturing Collection) and create the G-Code from within Inventor or if you have an outside company doing your cutting and nesting for you, you can provide them with a DXF file.  The DXF file is a common file that can be shared and read by many CNC machines for the production of these flat patterns from a stock plate.

The software on these CNC machines is able to be controlled by simple things in the geometry like color.  For instance, if there is a feature cut into the sheet metal (which does not go all the way through) it could be in green color while holes (which cut all the way through) could be in the normal white/ black color.

You also might want to control which lines are visible in the DXF file that is exported.  These are normally the outside profile line, the bend lines and inside contour lines which would be the holes or cutouts.

When exporting the DXF flat pattern you can set these values every time you export but that can get tedious.  To create a template for these settings you can save an .ini file which can be imported each time a flat pattern is created.