What's new
What's new

Transferring Drawing from Paper to Sheet Metal?


Dec 21, 2005
Waukesha, WI
What ideas might any of you have for transferring a small drawing to a piece of sheet metal? I have a small star washer type thing that I'd like to make. I can easily draw it in ACAD, about 1" or so in diameter. Fabrication would be done by drilling, sawing, and then die filer. I'm thinking something like send the drawing to the printer on a piece of mylar, then use an iron to heat transfer the drawing onto the sheet metal. Would that work? What other ideas are out there?

What's to stop you using Spraymount or equivalent to stick the drawing to the metal then cutting round the outline? Use a fairly stout paper or thin card to it doesn't lift and wrinkle too readily.

It might not work for such a small item, but I always just prick punched the outline and connected the dots. I like Georgineer's idea better
They make aerosol'ized layout fluid / dykem type stuff. For some parts, I've set it / clamped it on there and sprayed lightly around it. Doesn't work well if the bottom surface isn't flat and reasonably sharp.

Sharp scribe and a steady hand.

Or glue + card stock, like they said.

Hell, now that I think about it, we have a laser etcher here that we use to cut cardboard and mylar with - mylar would be great because you can spray all the oil/coolant you want and not care.
I have adhesive-back blank shipping labels from UPS and FedEx that can be laser printed or run through the copy machine. Print the full size design, rough cut around the outside with scissors and stick it to the sheet metal. If the design leaves too little paper stuck to the metal, it will peel off while sawing.

For delicate stuff, I put the design on thin tracing paper and attach it to the metal with super glue. You can also glue several layers of sheet metal together with super glue and cut a number of identical parts at once. Acetone will dissolve the super glue when done.

Carbon paper is a lot more difficult to find these days. Not so many manual typewriters in use. :)

If you do transfer the drawing via carbon paper, pounce wheel, or other powder-based technique, shoot the surface with a light coat of Krylon or artist's fixative to keep the marks from rubbing off while you're working on the part.
I can easily draw it in ACAD, about 1" or so in diameter.

If you haven't printed from ACAD for direct template use before, just be aware that some printers are not good at printing actual size. Also, some print settings will automatically scale what you print. When I am printing from a new computer or to a new printer, I always include a 1"x1" square in the drawing. Once it is printed, I measure that square to ensure it came out as 1"x1" on the paper.
I do sheet metal parts all the time. I print them on full sheet size label stock which you can get at any office supply store. I have a printer that has a straight through paper path (rear to front) so the labels don't peel off inside the printer. Most printers will allow thicker stock to pass through them than the specs. seem to permit. Most printer drivers also allow X-Y adjustments to be made so the 1:1 print size is really 1:1.

You need to remember to allow for bends when you lay out any part that is not completely flat. I found the best way to do this was by experiment.

I paste that label on the sheet metal and cut, drill, punch, bend, etc. When the part is done, I spray with WD-40 and let it soak for a few minutes. Then peel the label off and wipe any remaining adhesive off with a rag. It usually comes off very easily.

Having the label on the part while you work also protects it from scratches and other shop damage so the result looks a lot better. And no scribbled lines.
on all my layouts on sheet metal I just use a sharpie permanent marker, wipe off the metal, cut out the pattern hold it down with a magnet trace around it. when you get rid of the marker mark you have your pattern. jonathan