ExactFlat for SOLIDWORKS QuickStart Guide:

1. How To Use This Document

To get the most out of your learning experience, we have applied best practices in education to ensure efficient relevant learning experiences, which can be extended directly into the work environment.  For each learning element the participant is asked to: 

  1. Understand the goal
  2. See the target skill in action (either through video or live with an instructor)
  3. Try the skill yourself
  4. Address questions related to the skill
  5. Practice your skill to develop speed needed in a production environment
  6. Apply the skills acquired to working on your own models and parts in your own environment

All videos referenced or linked in this document can be accessed from:

Quick Start Training Video Playlist

After completing this document users are encouraged to test their skill on one of the supplied ExactFlat models.  If users can complete all the tasks in the workflow in under 1 hour, they will have learned the basic workflow sufficiently to begin using ExactFlat in their work environment.

2. The ExactFlat Interface

  • Model View - SOLIDWORKS 3D modeling environment
  • Pattern Piece Creator View - to create and edit pattern piece geometry from 3D CAD models
  • Flattener View - to create 2D flat patterns from 3D CAD models
  • Pattern Design View - to add and edit pattern features such as notches and seam allowance
  • Marker/Nesting View - to create nests and DXF export files
  • Drawing View - to create technical drawings
  • Database Manager - to add and edit default settings
  • ExactFlat Options - to configure how ExactFlat works


Model View



Pattern Piece Creator View


Flattener View


Pattern Design View



Marker/Nesting View


Drawing View


3. The ExactFlat Workflow
This is the basic ExactFlat workflow:


4. Learning the Basics of the Core Workflow
4.1. Pattern Piece Creation


4.1.1. Creating and naming pieces

  • Start with a 3D CAD model 
  • Finish with pattern pieces in 3D all named according to your naming criteria

 Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Selecting faces on a 3D model
  • Naming pattern pieces
  • Creating pattern piece
  • Deleting pattern pieces
  • Using ‘create all’ to create all pattern pieces

4.1.2. Converting Pieces and Assigning Material Properties

  • Start with pattern pieces which have been created and named
  • Finish with converted ExactFlat patterns pieces with material properties assigned

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Convert to ExactFlat
  • Select and assign material properties
  • Select or Search for materials
  • Change material assignments

4.2. 3D to 2D Flattening


4.2.1. Flatten and Optimize Patterns

  • Start with initial flat patterns
  • Finish with remeshed, fully pattern pieces optimized for accuracy and fit

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Launch flattener view
  • Adjust flattener windows
  • Review strain and sag map
  • Optimize pattern pieces
  • Update pattern geometry

4.3. Organize Pattern Pieces


4.3.1. Moving, Finding and Arranging Pattern Pieces

  • Start with flat patterns that have been optimized
  • Finish with flat patterns that have been organized in an arrangement suitable for adding pattern features 

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Launch the move tool
  • Move pieces
  • Rotate pieces
  • Find pieces
  • Arrange pieces

4.4. Add Pattern Features



4.4.1. Adding Seam Allowances and Notches

  • Start with pattern pieces that have been suitably arranged
  • Finish with pattern pieces to which seam allowances and notches have been added

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Launch the pattern view
  • Launch the appropriate edge tool (e.g. seams, hems, etc.)
  • Select and create edge groups
  • Naming edge groups
  • Adding and editing a seam allowance with ‘auto add mate’
  • Adding and editing notch chains

4.4.3. Adding Grain Lines

  • Start with pattern pieces that have been suitably arranged
  • Finish with pattern pieces to which grain lines have been added

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Use SOLIDWORKS sketch tools
  • Apply a grain line to a pattern piece by drawing a line by picking the point of origin and the point of termination
  • Assign the sketch line to be a grain line by selecting the ExactFlat grain line feature from the ExactFlat tool ribbon

4.5. Creating Technical Drawings

  • Start with finish pattern pieces to which all pattern features have been added
  • Finish with annotated technical drawings

Process Steps & Target Skills:             

  1. Tables
  2. Balloons 
  3. Callouts
  • Launch the drawing tools from the menu
  • Selecting a template
  • Choosing a drawing type and positioning it on the template
  • Configuring drawing settings
  • Adding drawing feature

Process Steps & Target Skills:

4.5.2. Automatic Nesting

  • Start with a default marker
  • Finish with compacted nest with lay rules set according to criteria needed

Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Launching the nesting view
  • Initiating nesting

4.7. Export to Cutter


4.6.1. Exporting a Marker

  • Start with a finished nest
  • Finish with DXF file with the appropriate export settings

 Process Steps & Target Skills:

  • Launching the export utility
  • Selecting the cutter pre-set
  • Selecting the specific information to include in the export file