Sheet metal design has been the biggest ‘Fashion Trend’ in Architectural design for a few years now. With its petit qualities and simple yet elegant, sheet metal design can be used for various purposes, from decorative structures to rooftops of buildings. Therefore, sheet metal is the best choice opted by manufacturers and designers of today. One of the main reasons to opt for sheet metal design is its flexible nature and dynamism. Bend in any shape, size and made out of numerous metals like aluminium, steel, copper and many more.
Sheet metal design tips are very precise for best quality outcomes and manufacturability. Of course, there are a couple of exceptions for complex sheet design. Still, to start with, it is always recommended to have a trial run or a test sheet design and follow the sheet metal design rules before manufacturing the entire metal design.
The first and most crucial step is selecting the right material for sheet metal and the right sheet thickness in gauges. Measuring the sheet thickness and selecting the material can be done by considering past experience, Simulation studies, reverse engineering and experimental studies.
Secondly, it is recommended to consider the hole sizes of the metal sheet when designing and manufacturing. Avoid punching small holes in the metal; keep the hole diameter equal to the thickness of the sheet metal.
Take a nice and long inside look at the inside radius of the sheet. The bend radius should not be small, as it can cause strain on the workpiece in hand. And as we all know, once you cross the bend point to fold any further, it can lead to cracks in your design sheet, which is not really a good look. Hence, stick to an equal bend radius as the sheet thickness.
It is always best to stick to simple folds. In short, the more complex your angled bends are, the more expensive and time consuming the process gets. On the other hand, simple and elegant designs are more affordable in the manufacturing process.
Tooling is to be considered to make a part’ shape. Considering tooling that fits all lengths and on most sheet parts. Conventional press-brake tooling can be used for precision straight line bends. Time-saving and cost-saving features like round emboss, countersinks, bridge lances and other such features. Keep your efforts to stick to standard sizes when dealing with the above punch press features.
To create an affordable and simple design, try as much to limit the use of tight tolerance. Only assign Key tolerance to parts features and surfaces functionality. Hence the more the features with tolerance callouts, the more is the expense of the design sheet metal. Examples of tolerance callouts – hole diameter, Radius and distance.
Maintaining uniformity in your bend orientation while designing the sheet Can be the best way to move towards an affordable and time-saving process. Uniformity throughout your design will reduce parts’ reorientation, save money and time, and show consistency in your design, making your work easier.
There are also a couple of mistakes that one should avoid and additional tips that one should have while manufacturing the design metal sheets.
- Do not use complete 3-D models of a part with no bends; this is a common issue most manufacturers face. It must be bent, cut, formed and lased into a final piece.
- Never place features close to bending lines. Keep all your features like holes, at least 4x material thickness far away from bend lines. This is known as the 4T rule that you should follow.
- When designing the metal sheet corners, remember to make sure that the resulting bend should be perpendicular, i.e. 90 degrees
- Careful selection of your sheet metal for the work cause honestly, having happy customers is the most beneficial of your design manufacture.
- Know your materials well, their strengths and how well they can be bent.
- Last but not the least, have realistic goals when designing. You don’t want to become over-ambitious while handing in your materials (especially at the bends).
A secret to save money? Keep the radius for all the bends equal. (It will save you tons of labour cost).