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Unfolding 3D Surfaces

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Is there any way to unfold a 3D surface.

I have a set of stairs that runs around a 90? corner and each step and riser is folded from 5mm matal. to find the true shape I need to unfold them, can it be done.

Thanks for any help


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Yes it can be done. In VectorWorks its a manual process though. Check out this site:


For plate 5mm thick you will have to consider bend radii and location of the neutral (bend) axis. True sheet metal systems build this data into the unfolding process. If you are getting the stairs cut by laser or plasma do NOT assume the bend neutral axis is at the 2.5mm level in the material - you will get the wrong shape.

Best bet is to tell the stair cutter what you want and let them do the unfolding. Apps like Radan (virtually the sheet metal industry standard system) can unfold imported data files easily. Export as a IGES.

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