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    Default Sheet Metal

    I have some sheet metal to cut out. I'm pretty sure it'll be Aluminium, not sure which kind exactly.

    Question is, since it's a sheet of say 1.2mm, upcut router doesn't sound like a reasonable way of doing it. The whole thing will bow and vibrate and move about even a few cm/inches away from where it's held down to the table. I'm guessing sheet metal is mostly cut out with a plasma cutter? Any other way? Would a downcut router do the job? No idea how to hold it in place thought, I don't have any features, just trying to cut out parts along the perimeter.
    Last edited by Shazam; 05-14-2019 at 07:22 AM.

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    Sounds like a job for laser!

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    1 or 100 or 1000?
    1 I would use a jig saw and super77 it to a piece of ply wood at the house
    1 I would use nibler if I had one at house or work
    1 I would use profile bandsaw, if I had one at house or work
    1 I would use a plasma at work - because I do not have a jig saw and blade at work - plasma my last choice for al
    1 at work with a day notice - laser cut
    100 laser cut, unless edge finish really mattered, then waterjet
    1000 turret punch or laser/water

    In industry plasma machines are not used on sheet metal, plasma is for thicker material and some coping/tube machines. Laser is faster/better on thin.

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    Oh sorry, yer, very low volume production. Call it 1 part per year over 10 years. I'm jesting here, no idea of the demand, but not high volume production.

    Ok thanks, but for metal cutting you would need a pretty powerful laser? I've seen engraving in aluminium, those things would be pretty weak, no idea wattages off the top of my head for cutting vs engraving. I need laser engraving, but I don't think that laser would be feasable for cutting aluminium, would probably take like a week of non stop work to cut the part out, it's probably 2mx1m in size. I'll look into it though thanks.

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    I seriously doubt you want to buy a laser. sub it out.
    A trumpf laser might not be a million, but figure that by the time you add additional pallet and wiring and learning optics, and and and, oh, and consumables, nitrogen banks and o2 banks, and dizzy gas and f1 and and and...
    Use a jig saw. use a home depot bandsaw.

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    Super easy work for a fiber laser. Oxy assist gas.

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    Try again please (this time a wee bit harder sir)
    Topic titles need to inform what your topic is actually about

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    Yep, lasers aren't cheap, I'd definitely need to find more than a single part that I would need to make to justify the cost.

    Jig/band saws would make for wobbly edges

    Subbing is something that I've started seriously thinking about more and more for the stuff I'm trying to make. Can't do everything yourself I guess. If laser is the way to go for sheet then that's the way to go.

    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Try again please (this time a wee bit harder sir)
    Topic titles need to inform what your topic is actually about
    Done.

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    Even a cheap hobby grade cnc plasma table can cut aluminum reasonably even if you simply tell the machine it's steel and don't have any special settings or consumables. We cut 1/8" gussets and profiles all the time at our high school robotics club on a hypertherm candcnc table. The dross cleans up quickly with a sander.

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    Hmm, plasma is a whole nother machine, don't think I want to go down that path. But if I decide to outsource, then it's an option.

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    Going out on limb and thinking you have very, and I mean very little experience in metal work.
    First, I personally wouldn't do work in Al unless it had material properties for it. Al is unforgiving, relatively expensive to play with, does not play well with other metals, and is just icky. I am not a machinist - I know some machinist love it. One of the nice? things is you can cut it with a jig saw, coping saw, skill saw, jewelers saw (with right blade), a bench top band saw, table saw.....
    so, flat part, no experience, easy to get, ok al is good call. a file will make short order of any wobble edges - a little practice and those will be minimal.
    You mentioned engraving. No way unless you are really good would you touch al. Engraving is metal removal, with a tool, a true craft. lasers more etch the surface, big difference. There are cnc and pantograph engraving machines, yet you can get better quality with a hammer and engraving chisel - touch up with a push graver. Look at a dollar bill or a fancy shotgun for examples. Steel and navel brass are the common materials to learn and practice on.
    Now, you are being secretive so I assume bending or breaking. Al alloy matters for bending, and there are various definitions of 'merchant grade' - steel you have a36 (mild steel). Stainless merchant is 300 series - you do not want to start breaking you teeth in on stainless.
    Try roofing copper, can cut with aircraft shears, sands and files readily, you can form it easily, forgiving as can be, you can anneal and keep going with a benzomatic torch or kitchen stove and a mudpuddle, you can phoscopper, lead solder, or even use silver solders for high strength joints (not the 15 % silver, the hard - medium - ez - extra ez stuff). you can engrave it if half hard or better, you can enamel on it for finish once you mastered everything else.
    Second your title is vague
    Third step quietly on this forum being non professional.
    Fourth cnc is just a tool so we can make a living. It is better to be really good with tools than try and fumble thru with janky robots. Your printer is a really good intro cnc, use it.

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    If you really want to make a few repeatable and do it yourself, just make template out of plywood, something like 3/4. Make it nice and smooth and take your time. Then, all you have to do is trace it to your material, rough it out with a jigsaw or whatever you want and leave it a little fat. Then come back and clamp it to your template and chase everything with a router and a flush trim bit.

    Or, just send a drawing to laser shop and get back a perfect part and pay the money. Depends on how much you want to spend. Don't forget a laser shop will have a minimum. Prob $150-250 depending on where you are.

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    Yep haven't worked with metal much. Mostly just hand drilling and hacksawing away, for small projects around the house. But I've done quite a bit of research into machining metal. Quite familiar with how feeds and speeds work. Although I'm sure the topic gets much larger if you really start digging down in to it.

    Well the reason why I'm thinking aluminium is if I make the part myself, I only have access to a router. I know it's harder to work with that other metals. If I outsource, then I can chose any metal I like.

    The problem with any type of saw is the time it will take to get it to look right. I've got plenty of experience working with jigsaws on wood and I never get an edge that wouldn't take forever to rectify. The part I'm trying to make is large, as I mentioned it's around 2 m x 1 m. So using a file would take forever. I'll admit, I've gone down this route for smaller features/parts and it works, but over longer sides to the part, I think it would be really hard to maintain a straight edge. I won't be making lots of these parts and as you said, aluminium isn't the cheapest of materials, so practising wouldn't be an ideal solution.

    I'm talking about a different type of engraving, not with a v bit. I'm talking about laser engraving.

    Yes, the part will need bending, with a full 180 bend at minimal radius in some places. That's another aspect that I'm foggy on, that's why I said I haven't got the material down yet. I haven't researched this at all yet. Just looking for best practice to work with sheet metal, not looking into bending properties of various metals yet.

    Yep being non-professional definitely makes you feel unworthy of posting, but it's a catch 22, have to start somewhere.

    But what a tool? Sure I don't plan on making lots of these parts, but I don't want to spend a week making just one part. CNC speeds things up massively. Would just require deburring if using a router.

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    Anything CNC is this situation isn't going to help you. The learning curve on that will be longer that just figuring out how to make whatever it is by hand. At the part size you need, that is a large CNC. There are machines that can easily cut out what you need, but even 'budget' machines for that size aren't going to be cheap. You need to either just figure out a way to cut it out, hint, hint, template, hint, hint or send it out to a sheet metal shop. The bending requirements could get tricky as well. You are honestly most likely better off subbing it out to make a few before deciding if it's worth doing yourself.

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    for you endeavors in sheetmetal work you would be well served to own and learn to really use: (in order of bang for the buck)

    1 Noga DB1005 Sheet Metal Deburring Tool and decent set of files not hardware store crap. single cut

    2. decent jigsaw and a stick of wax lube.

    3. 3 piece set straight & Left and Right aviation tin shears.

    3. Makita JN1601 nibbler (or similar quality tool)

    4. Makita JS1602 shear (or similar quality tool)

    5. $300-$900 Box break.

    6. 30 Amp hand plasma cutter. used freehand or with cheap mdf board or similar templates


    very distant 6th place. cheap cnc plasma table.

    and not even in the realm of reality -any sort of laser or waterjet.

    also for bending 180... basically way out of your league. use a cheap box brake to bend to 270 degrees and hammer the edges over the last bit.
    Last edited by dsergison; 05-14-2019 at 02:15 PM.

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    The nice part of me wishes you well,

    BUT THERE IS NO WAY you are going to fold an unknown al alloy of unknown temper with unknown primary roll direction 180. oh, 3 foot fold? with no brake or experience in tooling or metal. You will have cracks and material that resembles flour more than metal. Even if you had a finger brake for the first 120, that last 60 degrees is a. whole. nother. level.
    If it takes hours to file, get a good file - like a new brand name (Simonds, Nicholson, gorbet), then take those hours and learn how the teeth are engaging and cutting the material. Files can move a serious amount of metal onto the floor quick when used right.

    If you want to learn I strongly recommend you either get off or on youtube and practice baby steps. If you just want the part, call a sheet metal shop, have decent print, give them the cash, walk away with finish part. You will not make it cheaper than an experienced tooled shop. Or better yet, offer to sweep their floor for 50 cents over minimum wage - then you get part and learn.

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    cutting aluminum with a bandsaw or a jigsaw is easy, cheap, and fast. If you want a smooth edge afterwards, use a belt sander, or a random orbit sander. Its not rocket science. I have been making parts from sheet aluminum since the 70s using basic woodworking hand power tools, it works perfectly well, doesnt take all week, and aluminum is soft- easy to sand and file. I have made a fair amount of cut out signage from aluminum in thicknesses from .080 up to 3/8", using hand power tools, and its really no big deal. Fine sandpaper, and a pad sander, the edges get nice and smooth very fast.

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'm leaning in the direction of outsourcing.

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    sad, ok not really, to see you go to dark side of easy over opportunity...solid list and advice here:
    Quote Originally Posted by dsergison View Post
    for you endeavors in sheetmetal work you would be well served to own and learn to really use: (in order of bang for the buck)

    1 Noga DB1005 Sheet Metal Deburring Tool and decent set of files not hardware store crap. single cut

    2. decent jigsaw and a stick of wax lube.

    3. 3 piece set straight & Left and Right aviation tin shears.

    3. Makita JN1601 nibbler (or similar quality tool)

    4. Makita JS1602 shear (or similar quality tool)

    5. $300-$900 Box break.

    6. 30 Amp hand plasma cutter. used freehand or with cheap mdf board or similar templates


    very distant 6th place. cheap cnc plasma table.

    and not even in the realm of reality -any sort of laser or waterjet.

    also for bending 180... basically way out of your league. use a cheap box brake to bend to 270 degrees and hammer the edges over the last bit.
    I would swap nibbler out with 4 1/2 grinder (nibbler good choice too), the distant 6th would be oxy/acetylene set 7th multi process welder Red or Blue, 8th would be slip rolls, mid 6th would be mallets/hammers/dollies... 9th would be profile band saw.

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    You are all doing this the hard way, a jig saw is ghetto and will beat the shit out of the sheet with its reciprocating action. If you don't have a band saw, build a wood form that is the size of your part and use a hand router to cut the material with a carbide aluminum router bit and a guide/bearing. That is how they used to build airplanes in WW2, if you have access to CAD, you can have a sheetmetal shop cut it on a CNC router, they use vacuum to pull the sheet down on a spoil board. It is not real accurate for thickness, but it will cut a hole, or drill fastener holes or trim the outside at about 2-300 inches per minute.


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