Sheet Metal Forming

Our well-tooled press brake with CNC back gage performs the usual and less conventional sheet metal forming. We tend to buy or make press tooling as needed, and so are well-equipped with for routine bending, large-radius bends using both hard and urethane tooling, bump-forming shapes beyond the capacity of a single hit, and other custom forming for more complex shapes. The photos below show examples of a wide variety of bending techniques - still only a small part of the range of work we've done to date.

It's most efficient to send us native Solidworks parts, so that we can adjust bend radii if needed, and to generate our own flat patterns with highest confidence in the bend locations and tolerances. We can work with whatever you send, with the caveat that sending only flat patterns, there's more opportunity for discrepancies. We do routinely work from conventional prints i.e. a 2D profile projection for each axis, from which we create flat patterns.

For technical information please see Waterjet Forming and Joining and For Makers, and in particular Sheet Metal Bending.

Back to Fabrication - Intro

This production batch of electrical boxes was waterjet cut in .09" 5052 aluminum with rivet holes cut along with all other features. The brake forming is accurate enough for the holes to align in all axes. The boxes are assembled using high-strength aluminum rivets and then powder coated.

All features of this custom electronics enclosure were waterjet cut in .125" and .063" aluminum. Holes were countersunk for the nut plate rivets and other fasteners. The parts were brush finished, then brake formed and assembled. For this project we worked from 20 year old PDF prints.

These parts in 1/8" stainless steel were bump-formed to this precise shape - 2" diameter, 180 deg bend, precisely located, in five hits per part. This is as much art as science - dialing in the bend sequence, position and depth required several setup parts.

These mounting plates are cut in 18 ga cold rolled steel, then formed, and resistance spot welded. Click the image to the right to see video of forming the countersinks.

These small precision brackets feature short flanges with awkward gaging references.

These brackets are cut in 3/16" 5052 aluminum, then formed to a precise radius and angle by pressing into a urethane die insert. Click the image to the right for video.

These boxes are cut in .04" 5052 aluminum, then formed using standard tooling and improvised custom form tooling -- click the image below for video of forming the half-round shape. PEM nuts have been pressed in, followed by assembly using POP rivets.

This one-off prototype part in .063" 5052 aluminum part was expediently formed using an improvised double-acting tool, with a stripping force fixing the metal in place on either side of each stretched area, so that a punch could form the offsets without drawing in the adjacent metal.

This one-off prototype in .06" 3003 aluminum has ten bend operations including a precise large-radius sweep, and several dozen PEM nuts and standoffs.

These enclosure panels were cut in .063" and .125" aluminum, brush finished, flanges brake formed, 82 degree countersinks cut for #6 flat-head screws, 100 degree countersinks for the tiny aluminum rivets, then the aviation nut plates installed using a rivet squeezer.

This one-off enclosure prototype is cut in 22 ga stainless steel, brush finished, then formed with 8 edge flanges, and two large-radius bends at the front.

These clamps were cut in 12 ga stainless steel, bump-formed to a precise large radius, and the ends bent to precise odd-angle bends.

Here we waterjet-cut a gaging template to dial in the bump forming, and check the bend angle and positions of the end bends.

These glove boxes were cut in 18 ga steel including POP rivet holes, then brake formed, and assembled using a mix of rivets and resistance spot welds.

This cabinet was formed in .09" 5052 aluminum, brush finished, and assembled using POP rivets.

Forming this prototype part, which features a deep "U" profile with half the "U" in a large radius and other half in a sharp bend, used the full resources of our shop. The sheet metal part was waterjet cut, brush finished, then hemmed on all 4 sides. The 90 deg large radius bend was formed first. To form on a press brake, the second, sharp bend requires the part swing through the punch. The punch was made for this job, starting as a waterjet blank in 1/2" steel, with the window cutout. The punch profile was machined on our Fadal, and the part formed as shown here.