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In this SolidWorks tutorial we'll explore the use of the SolidWorks sketch bend sheet metal tool for the virtual recreation of a prairie windmill blade.

The creation of this blade model, which is part of an assembly in a different tutorial, attempts to emulate how it may have been fabricated almost 80 years ago. In its day, this cutting edge blade design begins to resemble a modern turbine blade with more material and a steeper blade angle on the inner part while transitioning to less material and a smaller angle on the outside.

The shape of the blade is a simple partial cylinder that was probably rolled from a sheet metal flat pattern with various incorporated cuts. Using SolidWorks sheet metal we'll start with a flat form and add various cuts, that are used to accommodate its shape and support structure, along with the blade’s angular edges.

We'll then apply the sketch bend feature to provide it’s partial cylindrical shape. Along the way we'll discuss the limitations and workarounds when using the sketch bend feature and demonstrate some of the errors that may result from using the resulting sheet metal geometry for new features.

We'll also demonstrate an alternative method using solid modeling techniques and then finish up the tutorial by creating a simple sheet metal rivet. In the end, using the SolidWorks sheet metal tool and the sketch bend feature creates a model that closely emulates how the blade was probably fabricated years ago.

The benefit of using sheet metal on a part like this is the resulting flat pattern which is easier to work on and contains all of the necessary cuts needed before the part is shaped into its final form. The methods demonstrated in this SolidWorks training apply to many modern sheet metal designs involving cuts, angular forms and cylindrical bends made from a flat pattern.

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