Ultimate Guide to Designing Sheet Metal Parts
The methods used in the sheet metal fabrication process include cutting, bending, stamping, and punching. These processes rely on a 3D CAD file design to control the machines. A code precisely cuts and forms the metal sheets into the final metal part. Parts made from sheet metal parts are known for their long-lasting ability, thus great for a variety of applications. It is also great for high volume production and low volume prototypes. This is due to its cost-effectiveness in material cost and large initial set up. At Creatingway, we make parts from aluminum, copper alloys, steel, and, many other metal materials.
Design Tips to Consider When Making Sheet Metal Parts
These are depressed hole features found on sheet metal surfaces. Each countersink should be separated from another by eight times the distance. This prevents cracks from forming that link closely linked countersinks. Also, they should far from the metal parts edge to avoid a similar result.
Sheet metal parts should have a uniform wall thickness. However, sheet metals come as a single sheet making this requirement easy to achieve.
Holes and Slots
These features easily deform when placed near a bend. Thus, should be placed as a function of the metal’s thickness and bend radius away. Closer than this results in bulges forming at the edges. The hole size should also be 2.5 times that of the material thickness. Materials with greater strength better form with larger hole diameters.
At Creatingway, we use sheet metal brakes to bend metal sheet into the quoted geometry. Bends oriented in the same plane should face the same direction. This design tip avoids the need to reorient the part while manufacturing the sheet metal part. Thus, it saves precious time and money. Also, the sheet metal design should have a uniform bend radius while forming a part. It also lowers cost and avoids the development of inaccuracies due to bending thick parts. lastly, have the inside bend radius of the sheet metal at least similar to the metal sheet’s thickness. This avoids distortion and fracturing of the sheet metal while bending.
Relief Cuts and Corner Fillets
Designing a filler half the metal’s thickness reduces sheet metal part cost instead of having sharp corners. Relief cuts help in avoiding part overhangs and bend tears. Overhangs develop more visibly at bends of smaller radii parts of thick parts. Also bends found too close at the edge tear easily.
Features such as holes need to be away from a curl. The recommended distance is more than the curl radius and metal thickness. The bends made for the curls should be six times more than the metal thickness and curl radius. To avoid breakage, the outside radius should be two times that of the sheet’s thickness.
Hems folded edges of a part that makes round corners. They function in making the edges safe and may add an aesthetic value to a part. The hem may be flat, open, or tear dropped depending on the design. However, flat hems pose a risk of fracturing on the bend site and need to be avoided. Hem tolerances are dependent on material thickness, hem radius, and features at the hem. Both tear drop hems and open hems need an inside radius greater than the material thickness. A larger radius, however, loses the circular shape desired. The return length for both should be four-times that of metal’s thickness.
Notches and Tabs
Notches need to be 3.175 mm away from other notches. In sites with bends, they should be three times the metal’s thickness and bend radius. Tabs, however, need to be 0.04 inches’ part or with a measure of the metal’s thickness. Whichever is greater among the two. In order for the structural integrity of a tab, its length should not exceed five times its width.
Types of Sheet Metal Bending Services
The available bending methods include:
- Bottoming– the method involves pressing a sheet metal onto a die surface using the punch. The metal then shapes itself to the final angle of the die. We press a metal sheet of 3 mm thickness with a V-die opening width six-times its thickness. For 12 mm thickness, a twelve times thickness is optimum.
- Air bending– the method uses two dies. A die up top and another at the bottom. The upper die functions as a punch. However, the bottom die possesses a v-shaped opening. A punch forces a sheet metal into the bottom shape to take the form of its shape. The method has lower precision compared to other methods.
- Folding– the method uses clamping beams to hold the sheet metal’s longer side. A tool grabs this side moving up and down while taking shape of a bend’s profile. It possible to get negative and positive angle bends using this method.
- Coining– the method has some similarity to air bending. However, it uses larger forces of about 10 to 30 times than needed with air bending. Thus it achieves greater precision levels
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