Avoid These Mistakes in Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication
Details and specifications can make or break your design. Thus, it is best to be as specific and detailed as possible when submitting information for your fabrication needs. Remember that a carefully crafted design can save you significant time and money while making the process easier for your manufacturer.
Before creating designs, it is crucial to understand the most common mistakes made by engineers to avoid making similar errors in your project. Understanding these lapses will also help you improve your current plans and make them more workable for your manufacturer.
Common Errors To Avoid in Designing Precision Sheet Metal Parts
The following are seven of the engineer’s most frequently committed errors when designing sheet metal products:
1. Using 3D Models but failing to include some critical information
Utilizing models with no bends is one of the engineers’ most basic mistakes. Sheet metal is flat, and to create a 3-dimensional part, it must be bent, shaped, and sometimes coerced into its final form. Because the process is so complex, you should have a CAD file with specific instructions on where bends should be placed and give the critical dimensions, considering flanges, the distance between features, part edges, hole diameters, and centers, especially if your sheet metal part is designed as a solid object.
2. Placing Features Too Close to the Bend Line
If you place features like holes or tabs too close to the bend line, they will become warped or deformed. To avoid situations like this, follow the 4T rule. This rule states that all features and attributes must be at least 4x thick away from the bend line.
3. Misunderstanding Sheet Metal Corners
Sheet metal bending using a press brake can be a highly accurate process, but there are many variables to consider. Material thickness, grain, and type, as well as machine, tooling, bend allowance, and determined K-factor all need to be considered. Good manufacturers want to help you get it right the first time. Make sure to specify as many details in your model and on the prints as possible, and ask questions on the front end of the design if you are unsure of something. This will save your company time and money.
4. Forgetting To Include Detailed Hardware Specs
Include all relevant data in your manufacturing information, so the manufacturer knows the type of hardware you plan to use. This also ensures that the product you receive follows all the specifications you expect and require for your project.
5. Picking the Wrong Finish (or Not Using One When You Need To)
Aside from the base materials, the precision sheet metal finish is critical for the finished product. Some steel finishes protect the product, while others improve its appearance. For example, aesthetic finishes typically do not provide corrosion protection, but powder coating offers some resistance to water and other elements. Meanwhile, chemical finishes change the properties of the steel surface or introduce new features to increase corrosion resistance. There are numerous options to consider when choosing a finish, so figure out which will yield the best results.
6. Selecting the Wrong Metal for the Job
Choosing the right materials for your plan is critical. When designing a product, keep in mind the environment it will be exposed to. For instance, your product may become destabilized if you only design for mechanical properties.
You can consider the following factors to avoid errors and rising manufacturing costs:
- Resistance to heat, corrosion, and other environmental factors
- Electricity and heat conductivity
- Mechanical properties, such as tensile strength and malleability
- Toughness and resistance to wear
- Cosmetic appearance
7. Designing Unrealistic Weld Requirements
Confirm that your weld specs are achievable. For instance, metal melts at high temperatures, so materials with high heat resistance are required. Moreover, always use a welding function or nomenclature to indicate the need for welds in your drawings.
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Contact us if you have any questions about the design of your next project, or you can request a quote today!