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Part Design in CATIA V5:

A Comparison of
Shell and Thicken

 In this workshop you will see how to model a thin-

walled part, such as a metal stamping or a plastic
cover, using the Shell or Thicken command. This
teleconference will show you the difference between
developing thin-walled parts using Shell and
Thicken, and the implications of these differences
when modeling a metal stamping or a plastic cover.
We will cover several modeling strategies, and
discuss the pros and cons of each method. This
workshop is intended to be interactive and you will
be invited to ask questions you may have.

 Terry Cussen
 8 years of mechanical design experience
 automotive seating, robotics, and technology
research and development.
 designing metal stampings, machined parts,
and injection molded plastic components.
 CATIA V5 Engineering Courseware Developer at Cadpo in
Westminster, CO.
 Masters and Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering
from Stanford University.
Intended Audience

 Engineers and Designers who make thin-

walled parts
 Injection molded
 Stamped
 Machined
 Cast
 CAD department teams investigating best
practice modeling methods

 What’s the difference? Shell vs. Thicken

 Issues to Think About When Modeling
 Modeling Methods
 Recommendations
 Questions & Answers
 Wall
 The faces of the parts – usually the part’s
 Edge
 The end of a wall where thickness can be
measured – usually the part’s top or
 Boundary Surface
 The surface will be made into the edges of
the walls, before the shell operation.
 Thin-Walled Part
What’s the difference?

 Shell uses the existing boundaries of the solid as the

limiting faces.
 Thicken adds material to a surface in the direction
normal to the face.
 There is no difference between the two functions
when the boundaries are perpendicular to the walls.
What’s the difference?

 Drafted Wall – Positive Angle

 Drafted Wall – Negative Angle
 Transition Areas
 Wall – Wall Fillet
 Wall – Floor Fillet
 Hole Edges
Drafted Wall – Positive Angle
Thicken has more material than Shell

Blue = Shell
Yellow = Thicken
Drafted Wall – Negative Angle
Thicken has less material than Shell

Blue = Shell
Yellow = Thicken
Transition Areas: Wall - Wall
Shell Thicken

Smooth Transition
Transition Areas: Wall - Floor
Shell Thicken

Smooth Transition
Hole Edges
Hole intersects the bead

•Red arrow: no difference because wall is perpendicular
•White arrow: thicken area is very different because the
thickness is applied normal to the surface.
If this is not what is intended, you should make the
hole after the thicken operation.
Issues to Think About When Modeling
 How will the part be made?
 Injection molded, stamped, machined, cast
 Why model the edges correctly?
 How can the part be modeled to
accommodate design changes?
 What is the impact on linked files (drawings,
assemblies, other models) already in
How Will the Part be Made?

 Injection Molded
 Parts are formed between two halves of a mold. The
edges of the walls are the parting plane.
 Stamped
 Parts begin as a flat sheet and are progressively formed to
the final shape. The edges are are perpendicular to the
 Machined
 Parts begin as a block and material is removed to leave
the final shape. The edges of the walls are determined by
the cutting tool
 Cast
Why Model the Edges Correctly?
 Communicate design intent to manufacturing
 For a stamping, it shows if secondary finishing or cam trimming is
 Can this be handled by a note on the drawing?
 For an injection molded part, it shows where the parting line is.
 Will the edge be checked on the drawing?
 Provide best information to design reviews
 Performing fit or clearance measurements in the assembly
 Evaluate part for safety, e.g. sharp edges

 Even modeling “correctly” isn’t exact - the solid

model doesn’t represent exactly what is made.
 Stamped edges already have die roll and tearout.
 Wrinkling at corners, thinning due to deep draws, etc.
 Plastic parts have flash at the parting line.
Planning for Design Changes
 How can the part be modeled to
accommodate design changes?
 Solid modeling, shell is the most straightforward.
 Ordered geometrical sets make surface models easier to
 Maintain a strict hierarchy to feature creation, so children are
always listed below parents.
 Ordered set may use Scan to play the sequence of the surface.
What is the Impact To Linked Files?
 If you change modeling strategy, linked files
will be impacted.
 Drawing
 Loss of associativity of dimensions
 Assembly
 Elements will need to be published again
 Constraints reconnected if not made with published
 Other part models
 Rebuild? Opposite hand parts e.g.
Modeling Methods

1. Solid Model, Shell

2. Solid Model, Extract Surface,

Thicken, Remove Lump

3. Surface Model (GSD), Thicken

4. Solid, Model Boundary

Surface, Shell
1. Solid Model, Shell

1a. Solid Model


1b. Select Boundary Surface 1c. Shell Result
2. Solid Model, Extract, Thicken

2a. Solid Model


2b. Extract Surface 2c. Thicken Surface

2d. Remove Lump from Solid

Why Remove Lump?

 If Body is hidden
 The body’s mass is included in Measure Inertia
 Dimensions in drawing are still maintained, but they are
still associated to the shelled body, not the thickened. Both
solids are shown in sections
 If Body has Remove Lump operation
 The body’s mass is not included in Measure Inertia.
 Dimensions in drawing are not maintained and need to be
3. Surface Model, Thicken

 Model the surfaces directly using Generative

Shape Design
 Thicken

Model the surface Final Surface Thicken

4. Solid Model the Boundary, Shell

 Model the solid body

 Model the resulting

boundary surface
 using solid features (draft, rib,
loft, etc)
 using surface features (offset,
sweep, split, sew)

 Shell
Transition Areas: Wall - Wall
Solid Model

•Corrects difference due to drafted wall

•Rough approximation of transition area
Transition Areas: Wall - Floor

•Corrects difference due to drafted wall

•Rough approximation of transition area

When should I use a particular modeling method?

 Try method 1 first. This is the
1. Solid Model, Shell most straightforward modeling
process. It will work for injection
molded parts and metal
2. Solid Model, Extract stampings where the boundary
Surface, Thicken, surface is normal to the walls.
Remove Lump  Use method 2 for stamped
sheetmetal parts where the walls
are not normal to the boundary
3. Surface Model (GSD), surface.
 Use method 3 only for complex
surfaces requiring the GSD
4. Solid, Model Boundary functions.
Surface, Shell  Use method 4 as a last resort to
correct a model which already
has many files linked to it, such
as drawings and assemblies with
Injection Molded Part
 Build the solid model, shell
 If you have a surface, close the surface with a
planar surface which represents the parting
plane, then shell.
Stamped Sheetmetal Part
 First try method 1 – solid model, and shell.
 If the edges are not being modeled correctly,
use method 2 – solid model, extract, thicken,
remove lump.
 Make this decision before creating drawings
and assemblies.
 If you started with method 2 and the design changes such
that method 1 would work, don’t bother remodeling the
part – you may need to change back in the future.
Other Items to Consider

 Feature order: before / after shell?

 Positive features
 Negative features
 Draft, fillets, holes, boss, ribs
 Do holes have axis after thicken?
 Different wall thickness at different parts of
the model
 Shell has this function build in, Thicken does not
 Not relevant to stamped parts, since the stock size is
Tech Tips
 Reduce the number of surfaces you need to
 Cut holes or pockets after the shell/thicken command.
 Fillet sharp edges prior to shelling.
 Create a parameter for thickness
 Use to set shell/thicken command.
 Calculate inside / outside radii based on thickness
 Link to drawing using Attribute Text Link
Attribute Text Link
1. Right-click and select Attribute Link 2. Select the parameter or feature to link to

4. Text in the drawing is linked to the model

3. Confirm the parameter to link to

 What’s the difference between shell and thicken?

 Shell uses the existing boundaries of the solid as the limiting faces.
 Thicken adds material in the direction normal to the face.
 This can lead to differences.
 Issues to Think About When Modeling
 Manufacturing method
 Accuracy of the solid model - How important is it?
 Modeling strategies
 4 methods
 Recommendations
1. Solid Model, Shell
 This is the most straightforward modeling process.
1. Solid Model, Extract Surface, Thicken, Remove Lump
 For use on stamped sheetmetal parts where the walls are not normal to the
boundary surface.

Questions and Comments

Terry Cussen
Cadpo – Westminster, CO