New Tab and Slot Feature Streamlines Manufacturing of Fabricated Designs

A costly part of manufacturing fabricated designs (designs made up of components that are welded, glued and even put together with fasteners) is creating the fixtures that are used to hold the parts in positioning during fabrication. Because of this, many designers and manufacturers have turned to designs that include “self-fixturing” features that allow the assembly to be held together without the need for external fixturing and tooling.

To accomplish this, many people use the “tab and slot” method of self-fixturing, one in which “tabs” are added to one component with mating “slots” added to the adjoining component to form an interlock between the components.

Creating these features, however, can be tedious and error-prone. So for SOLIDWORKS 2018, we added the “Tab and Slot” feature to automate this task making it faster, easier and error-free.

Tabs and slots can be created on parts in an assembly, a single part, or a multibody part. You start by choosing an edge to define the tab, and a face to define where the slot will terminate. Offsets can be applied to control the tab distance from the ends. Spacing can be defined equally among a given number of instances or by a defined length. The length of each tab can easily be specified, and the height can be a blind value, or up-to or offset-from the selected surface.

Corner treatments, such as fillets and chamfers, can be applied to the tabs and their size can be specified. The clearance between the slot and tab can be defined as well and SOLIDWORKS creates features in both components to meet these specifications.

These tab and slot features are fully editable. For instance, an additional tab and slot can be added on the side by adding a new group to the definition.

The new Tab and Slot feature not only reduces design time by automating the creation of these features, but reduces manufacturing costs by minimizing the need to build expensive fixtures that can delay manufacturing. Find out more about all of the exciting new user-requested features in SOLIDWORKS 2018, click on the banner below.


Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien

Craig Therrien is a 3DEXPERIENCE WORKS Senior Portfolio Manager with over 30 years of CAD and industry experience - engineer, consultant, CAD product manager, CAD company co-founder. Currently, serving as Senior Product Manager for SOLIDWORKS and 3D Mold Creator. Craig has a B.S.M.E. from WPI and is a Graduate of General Electric's Manufacturing Development Program.