Written by: Michael Nolte, Application Engineer
The Tab and Slot feature for SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal was just added in the 2018 release. In 2019, they made a quick enhancement to the Slot side of your Tab / Slot features: The ability to automatically add corner reliefs to the slots that the Tab and Slot feature creates.
If you haven’t used Tab and Slot for Sheet Metal be sure to check out this video on it.
Back in the day, when I worked at an Off-Road aftermarket Steel fabrication shop, anytime we had a large production run of welded parts, we would make a fixture to keep the alignment and assembly more constant and faster. Occasionally, I could add my own tabs and slots onto parts to ensure that the parts were made constantly the same over and over. I would have used the heck out of the Tab and Slot Feature back then.
This new enhancement is something that I had not even thought of doing back then – the addition of relief cuts in the slot side.
As seen in this image, there are 4 methods. The default is just a normal Slot with a sharp corner style, same as last year. The new ”Slot fillet corner” and ”Slot chamfer corner” are great if the mating part is either a machined part or has had the edge broken after whatever flat cut method was done to them: Plasma, Laser, Water Jet cut. The forth option, the new ”Slot circular corner“, is appealing to me because when using Plasma or Laser cutting, these methods sometimes would leave rough corners on the tab side that could still be welded but made fitment an issue, especially when the plates got thick – 1/2 inch, 3/4th inch.
My method of getting around this, back then, was opening the slot size a little, but this made the alignment of the mating part a little more sloppy. This would cause us to make a fixture that may not have been necessary. If I had the Tab and Slot feature with the Slot Circular Corner, I could have left the tolerance tighter, added the relief in the corner and saved my production crew the hassle of removing and deburring the rough edges of the plates with the tabs on them.
Word of advice with any of the Fillet Corner and Chamfer Corner treatments: Make sure that the new Slot Length Offset and the new Slot Width Offset allow for the material to not self-intersect between the tab and the slot.
Happy Tab / Slot making.