Sheet Metal Insights: Expert Tips for Manufacturing Speed ⏱️

May 5, 2024

Here is an article written by our engineering team that will guide you on how to effectively optimize the manufacturing of sheet metal parts. The following pointers have been implemented by Factorem with research from manufacturing partners.

Sheet Metal Fabrication is a versatile manufacturing process that can be used to create a wide variety of parts and components. With industries such as aerospace, telecommunications, and medical fields, among others, relying on Sheet Metal Fabrication processes regularly, it is important to follow a few key tips that help manufacturers analyze and produce parts more efficiently. In this blog post, we will discuss three of the most important tips for producing Sheet Metal parts more quickly, directly from a manufacturer's perspective.

1.  Know Your Material

The three most common materials used for Sheet Metal Fabrication:

Mild steel - Steel for general structural purposes including bridges and buildings.

Stainless steel – Corrosion resistant, commonly used for electrical enclosures, pressure vessels and piping

Aluminum - Tough and durable

However, Manufacturers commonly opt for the use of mild steel and stainless steel in today's market due to their widespread availability and cost-effectiveness.

As such, designing parts based on these materials and understanding their properties can help accelerate the manufacturing process. If you're interested in a more in-depth view of the material properties and the range of properties that Factorem caters to, you can explore our materials database here: https://factorem.notion.site/Factorem-s-Material-Database-9316b71d1794423f9ec59194ef629305

2.  Know Your Drawings

Clear and accurate drawings are essential for successful Sheet Metal Fabrication. Drawings convey dimensions, tolerances, and part features, but two key elements that significantly aid manufacturers in quickly and accurately understanding your part are Isometric projections and flat pattern details.

Isometric Projection

This projection provides manufacturers with a comprehensive understanding of the part and its quality control requirements. Design features or flaws that might have been overlooked during the planning process also become evident, enabling manufacturers to raise concerns about the design. This interaction results in a faster fabrication cycle and reduces the likelihood of rework.

Flat Pattern Considerations

Flat patterns highlight punching locations, bending lines, and zones. This is crucial as manufacturers can grasp the vital features of the part, resulting in fewer chances of rework cycles. In the case of parts with flexible bending radius, displaying the minimum and maximum radius also empowers manufacturers to determine the optimal approach for producing the part.

3.  Know The Work Cycle

The work cycle for Sheet Metal Fabrication can vary depending on the complexity of the part. Nevertheless, there are certain common factors we can assess in the manufacturing process that enable us to estimate the time required to produce a part

High or Low quantity?

Usually, a single sheet of metal can be utilized to produce multiple parts. Therefore, placing orders for parts in higher quantities allows manufacturers to optimize fabrication for your specific needs. However, we recognize that certain parts need to be produced in limited quantities.

In the case of low quantity parts, manufacturers often integrate the designs into the fabrication process along with other projects. This approach involves completing multiple projects simultaneously. Based on insights from our manufacturing suppliers, projects therefore typically take around one day for each step. An illustrative example is provided below.

Given this, preparing your design and submitting it earlier is always recommended to ensure the timely delivery of parts right back to you.

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, these are just a few of the most important tips for producing high-quality Sheet Metal parts and reducing lead times. By following these recommendations, you can enhance part quality, help manufacturers achieve more efficient work processes for timely completion, and ultimately lower overall costs.

Thanks for reading!

Works Cited

  1. Zoom Engineering (Personal Interview, July 27, 2023). Interview regarding lead time for Sheet Metal Fabrication
  2. Truecadd, (2023, May 10). TrueCadd. Retrieved from How Sheet Metal Detailed Drawings Adress Concersn for Fabricators: https://www.truecadd.com/news/sheet-metal-detailed-drawings-benefits-for-fabricators
  3. Mahtabalam (2017, Nov 14). CAD CAM TUTORIAL. Retrieved from Solidworks Tutorial Sheet metal drawings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4kctnx-n_I