Designing sheet metal parts? Tips for success

Sheet metal fabrication is a process widely used in industry to manufacture a range of parts and finished products. Items are produced through a range of processes including cutting, punching, bending and stamping.

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While it can be a simple, straightforward process, get the design wrong and you could end up with faulty products or more waste than you anticipated, pushing up your costs. Let’s take a look at some tips for successfully designing sheet metal parts.

Controlling tolerances

Tolerances in the thickness of metal sheets can vary. If they are not managed correctly, it can mean the finished parts won’t fit together as they should. This problem can be particularly prevalent when there is no clearance in the design.

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Using the correct machinery

As with any process, using the right machinery for the right job is important, and several types are used is sheet metal fabrication, from press brakes to guillotines and plate rolls to bending machines. If you’re looking for new machinery, you will find a range of bending machines from Cotswold Machinery Sales.

As with any machines, safety is a primary concern for employers. The Health and Safety Executive provides businesses with range of guidelines.

Tooling limitations

Consideration should be given in the design process to the range and type of tools available as these can limit the shapes that can be created.

Getting the bends right

When designing bends that are on the same planate, ensuring they are in the same direction will help to save time and money as machinery won’t need to be reoriented. Keeping the radius of bends consistent will also help to keep costs down.

Positioning slots and holes

Where you position holes and slots in your design is crucial in ensuring that waste from deformities is kept to a minimum. Positioning them too close to bends can increase the risk of them becoming misshapen during processing. There are some factors that will affect the best position for holes and slots, such as the radius of the bend, the thickness of the raw material and the diameter of the hole.

With most designs nowadays being created using computer-aided design software packages, most of which have sheet metal applications, there is plenty of scope to change these variables to optimise the design.