Combine CNC Machining and Sheet Metal Fabrication in One Part

|

It’s easy to design a part and say, “This should be machined,” or “This is perfect for sheet metal forming,” but not all parts scream out for one manufacturing method over another. That’s where multiple component parts make a lot of sense. Often, you can get great results using two methods, for example, when you are combine CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication.

Designing for Cost and Durability

We know you are always looking for ways to create parts that:

  • Use cost-effective manufacturing processes
  • Provide superior structural integrity
  • Look great, especially if it’s an external part

Breaking Through Manufacturing Limitations

Sometimes, limitations in either the manufacturing method or materials necessitate design changes. For example, when machining, material thickness, the hardness of the metal, and even an end mill’s length can affect the height of vertical walls.

Remember that you still have flexibility in your part’s manufacturing, even though its purpose determines its design.

When Should I Combine CNC Machining with Sheet Metal Fabrication?

In the video below, the base is a piece of thick metal. It’s machined to a particular size with milled structures in the base. To the left and right are vertical elements with triangular designs cut into them.

 

 

If you designed this part exclusively for machining, you’d have multiple manufacturability issues. First, the interior space is too deep to machine with normal mills. Second, even if you could mill it out, the amount of time it would take to remove that much material would cause your part’s price to skyrocket. Third, it’s hard to mill out the triangular designs on either side without causing the metal framework to crack.

Wisely, this designer has decided to manufacture the part in three pieces. The base is machined, but the vertical elements are made of sheet metal and formed to the desired shape. The design includes laser-cut triangular features. The three pieces are welded together at the base.

By designing it to combine both CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication, this part ticks off all the important boxes. It’s less expensive to manufacture, it’s strong, and it looks great.

Related Blog Posts

CNC Machining Tolerance in Your Designs
Two Tips for Mating Parts with Sharp Corners
Designing 90-Degree Corners on 3-Axis CNC

For more helpful machining tips, download our CNC Machining Design Guide.

Sheet Metal Fabrication and CNC Machining

Get a quote using our hassle free part upload form!

3D Printing and Injection Molding

Powered by Protolabs