Sheet metal bending is a process in which bends are formed using a combination of a punch and a die. A very large number of mechanical products such as furniture panels, shelves, cabinets, housing for electro-mechanical devices, etc. are created by using the sheet metal bending process. Bending tools need to satisfy the following two criteria: (1) tools should be able to withstand bending forces, and (2) tool shapes should be such that there is no tool-part interference. In this paper, we describe a methodology for automatically designing shapes of bending punches for bending multiple parts in a single setup. We create parametric geometric models of punches. These parametric models describe the family of possible punch shapes. Using the part geometry and parametric punch shape models, we automatically generated constraints on tool parameters that eliminate the possibility of part-tool interference. We use mixed-integer techniques to identify parameters of punch shapes that result in the maximum punch strength. Finally, we perform strength analysis of the designed punch shape using finite element analysis methods, to verify that the designed punch shape is capable of withstanding the bending forces.
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