2. Follow Minimum Bend and Flange Length Guidelines
The most common issues we encounter involve part designs that don’t adhere to our guidelines for bend minimums and flange lengths. These calculations are critical in precision metal fabrication. Fail to follow them, and your part may need additional services, such as machining or custom tooling—or our sheet metal shop may be forced to no-quote the job altogether!
When dealing with improperly calculated flange lengths, we may need to extend the feature and then machine it to the desired length after forming, adding cost and lead time to your project. With certain material times and thicknesses, we’ll have no choice but to outsource the part for machining, further impacting your cost and lead time.
3. Communicate Your Exact Requirements—All of Them!
In precision metal fabrication, there is no such thing as too much information! The more details you provide about your part and its application, the better equipped our sheet metal shop will be to quickly and cost-effectively fabricate it.
Comprehensive callouts typically include these details, among many others:
- Material type and size
- Wall thickness
- Bend radii
- Hole orientation
- Slot orientation
- Bend allowance
- Bend deduction
- Bend reliefs
- Manufacturing process
- Fabrication process
- Finishing process
4. Discuss Material Options
Material selection plays a crucial role in the success of a sheet metal project, and ASM can help you select the best material for your application.
Even two seemingly identical materials can offer dramatically different quality, durability, formability, strength, corrosion resistance, and more. Two such materials are aluminum alloys 6061-T6 and 5052-H32.
As we explain in this 6061-T6 and 5052-H32 comparison video, T6 aluminum is a popular choice among precision metal fabrication customers, but it’s prone to cracking and breaking during the fabrication process. We advise most customers to swap their T6 selection for 5051-H32 aluminum, which is significantly more cooperative during forming and bending.
Our sheet metal shop is here to help you get the best parts possible, so never hesitate to discuss solutions for improving your parts!
5. Get Familiar with Sheet Metal Tolerances vs. Machining Tolerances
If you weren’t aware that sheet metal tolerances are more complicated than machining tolerances, you’re not alone; many engineers don’t learn about these differences in school.
The sheet metal fabrication process generally yields looser tolerances. Important factors to consider are material thickness and bend radius. Sometimes, achieving tight tolerances with forming alone is impossible, meaning additional processes will be required.
From the start, inform our sheet metal shop of your part’s tolerance requirements, and we’ll ensure you receive an accurate quote that reflects all the steps necessary to get you what you need.
Ready to get started? Request a quote today.