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Laser cutting 3mm mild steel sheet metal

Thursday, March 19th, 2015


Fast Tube by Casper

Simple video showing our Trumpf 3030 3KW fibre laser cutter cutting through 3mm thick mild steel sheet metal to produce blanks for electronics chassis housings. You can see that the laser cutting machine is easily able to process this type of material and thickness of sheet using nitrogen gas as the assist gas to cut through the steel. These chassis housings do not has any edge de-burring after laser cutting and once folded with bushes and studs inserted are ready to go straight to powder coating. You can see that whether it’s laser cutting circles, slots, cut-outs or edge profiles it makes no difference to this machine as the laser beam simply follows the program without the need for special tooling. All we have to do is change the nozzle size to suit a particular material thickness and that only takes 1 minute. This makes laser cutting a very versatile process for trying out new design prototypes and small batch work as well as running larger volume production.

As well as watching the laser cutting head cutting through the sheet metal within the laser machine the operator can monitor the progress of the program on the screen show at the end of the video. This enables the operator to make corrections if a gets caught or start the program from the same place so that parts are not lost within a sheet.

If you have a sheet metal component and are not sure whether it should be laser cut or CNC punched then just contact us through the website and we will be happy to take a look at your design ideas and pick the process that best suits the material, thickness and design to give you the best quality and price or component.


Formed sheet metal work

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Formed sheet metal sections

Formed sheet metal sections

Formed sheet metal work with curved forms can be produced in several ways whereas straight line bending is always produced with V block tooling in a CNC press brake.

Forms with a curved shape can be rolled if the curved form is a constant radius without any problems. This works best if the whole sheet metal component is rolled for example a round ring or tube. We can roll part of a form and have straight sections like this picture but it is more difficult to start and stop the roll form within the component accurately so we tend to not part roll components. We can form shapes with curved sections using multi-bend techniques on our CNC press brakes. This programming technique allows us to simulate the curved form with a series of small bends acting as flats or tangents to the curve form. The smaller the gaps between the bends the more smooth the form will be but the longer it takes to produce the component. This CNC multi-bending technique is particularly useful when forming curves that have a compound cross section such as 2 or more radius forms blended together. We use this method in production volumes and for prototyping curved forms for our customers to test their designs before committing to tooling.

These sheet metal air condition fan guards were manufactured using form tools to form the curved shape in one operation on one of our CNC press brake forming machines. The advantage being the speed that each part can be produced. This type of manufacturing is suitable for higher volume or batches that repeat quite often and then there is a quick pay back on the time spent making the tooling. If a design is likely to need to be changed quite often it is better to stick with multi-bending where changes do not involve any tooling just a program change. With all these forming methods we are here to help you make the right decision and keep your production costs to a minimum when selecting sheet metal component forms.

Formed mild steel channels

Formed mild steel channels

If you look carefully you can see 2 sheet metal formed sections on this pallet. Both formed channels have been laser cut from Zintec coated mild steel sheet using compressed air as the laser cutter assist gas. The sections on the left have been formed up on our Trumpf 7036 CNC press brakes with two 90 degree bends to form a channel. The sections on the right have been bent on the same machine with the same tooling but only have 135 degree bends. These two sheet metal components are a good example of the flexibility that can be achieved with CNC press brakes using a standard range of tooling and simple program changes to create a wide range of forms.

Formed mild steel end caps

Formed mild steel end caps

No post on formed sheet metal work would be complete with a look at sheet metal brackets. These parts are used on air conditioning / heater assemblies to secure the fan units and motors to a standard fan deck. Again as the example above they have been formed up on one of our Trumpf 7036 CNC press brakes with standard V bend top and bottom tooling. They were CNC punched out before being formed up and then had mild steel zinc plated hank bushes inserted before being spot welded to the fan deck.

Perhaps you have a sheet metal product that needs straight or curved forms and you are not exactly sure how to go about having it produced. Just send us your drawings and we will be happy to advise you on the most appropriate forming method to suit your design, material type, thickness and production volumes.


Welded sheet metal enclosures

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Welded sheet metal enclosure assemblies can come in so many shapes and sizes

We are often asked to weld up sheet metal enclosures for our customers in mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium alloys. Being able to TiG weld, MiG weld, gas weld, braze and spot weld helps us to deal with everything that is requested of us for fabricating commercial sheet metal enclosures.

Please follow the links to our welding plant pages or product galleries to see lots of examples of welded sheet metal enclosures and fabricated assemblies.


Folded sheet metal work

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Folded sheet metal work

Folded sheet metal work

Sets of zintec coated mild steel folded sheet metal work used to create heating fan units. The flat blanks were produced by CNC punching from 0.9mm think material and after edge de-burring being bent up on one of our CNC press brakes. Typical batch sizes for these parts are 50 to 100 off with a turn round time of just a few days as we normally have stock of this material on the shelf. Sheet metal folded sections such as these can be CNC programmed on our CNC press brake bending machines in minutes and then saved away to be recalled for another batch whenever they are needed, helping to keep down set up times and costs for every batch that we fold up.

Folded stainless steel sheet metal channels

Folded stainless steel sheet metal channels

Whether it’s mild steel, aluminium or stainless steel folded sheet metal work makes no difference to us when we are sorting out production for you. We have a range of machine types, tonnages and tooling to suit all types of materials and in a section of materials thicknesses. So whether you are looking for sheet metal to be folded in 0.3mm tin plated mild steel, 0.9mm pre-painted mild steel, 1.5mm stainless steel, 3mm aluminium, 4mm not rolled plate or 8mm grained stainless steel we can sort it for you.

Folded sheet metal sections

Folded sheet metal sections

Folded stainless steel sheet metal work used to create the base and back for an adaptor housing to secure a light fitting to a ceiling section. This view shows the folded sections with bushes inserted before the separate folded end plates have been seam welded in place. Once the stainless steel ends were TiG welded in place and the n cleaned off smooth and powder coated the whole folded fabrication looked like one triangular block with all joints hidden from view to the final customer.

If you are looking for folded sheet metal work from the smallest of angle bracket right up to 2.5M folded profiles then please contact us with a drawing and we will be happy to take a look at your ideas and turn them into finished product.


Sheet metal welding fabrications

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

I thought it would be useful to pick out 3 quite different sheet metal welding fabrication projects being manufactured during January 2015 to use as illustrations of the type of welding techniques we can employ when making fabrication assemblies.

Sheet metal MiG welded fabrications

Sheet metal MiG welded fabrications

Here I have shown a batch of 100 wall mounting bracket assemblies for supporting speaker systems. We normally manufacture 100 to 200 of the bracket assemblies at a time from mild steel square section tube, 5mm bar and 6mm thick mild steel plate. The 6mm thick plate is screwed to the wall with the welded tube projecting out at 90 degrees. The 5mm bar is used both sides of the tube to strengthen the joint and prevent the heavy speaker sagging once it has been fixed to the tube.

We used to buy the laser cut 6mm plates in from another source as they were too thick for us to CNC punch with our Trumpf punch presses. Now we have invested in a new Trumpf 3030 3KW fibre laser cutting machine we can easily laser cut them in house, out of interest the laser cutter is able to cut steel up to 20mm thick so 6mm was no problem. We also used to saw the mild steel tubes to length and then drill all the holes both sides with a standard pillar drill set up. We have now moved this operation onto the laser cutter as well with some customer built jigs. We still saw the tubes to length and then simply position them into the jig on the bed of the laser machine and as the laser head can move in the Z axis it can move onto the tubes and cut the holes require. We just cut a row of tubes and then flip them all over 180 degrees before cutting the other side. This has proven to be much quicker than having to drill them all out by hand. The tube, strengthening bars and wall mounting plate is positioned within a jig and then MiG welded together. By using anti-spatter spray we can keep the surface of the plates clean and they need little cleaning up before being ready to go for powder coating. MiG welding tends to be used on heavier sheet metal welding fabrication jobs than TiG welding as it’s quicker to apply and you can build up a lager weld quicker than TiG welding. I’s not a neat as TiG welding but in this case that was not important.

Sheet metal TiG welded fabrications

Sheet metal TiG welded fabrications

This is a simple sheet metal support shelf for a rack mounting enclosure. We often make 20-30 of these fabricated assemblies at a time with both parts being manufactured from 1.5mm mild steel. The main shelf and stiffening channel was laser cut from the same sheet of metal using nitrogen as the assist gas. Using nitrogen produced a very clean cut that didn’t need and edge de-burring and also is a perfect finish ready for zinc plating or powder coating.

Although you cannot see in this photo the stiffening channels have small tags laser cut in them and the main rack shelf has a small rectangular slot cut to match the tag. The welder who TiG welds them together doesn’t have to worry about positioning them or measuring point to tack weld as the 2 parts simply press together and are them welded. This method of assembly for welding is also a simple check that the 2 parts are being bent correctly as they can be checked once the first parts are bent to ensure they all line up before running the complete batch through the CNC press brakes.

Sheet metal spot welded fabrications

Sheet metal spot welded fabrications

These spot welded fabricated assemblies are used as part of a chassis used on some scientific measuring equipment. The batches can vary from 25 off up to several hundred at a time. They are laser cut from 2mm thick mild steel with nitrogen as the cutting assist gas in house on our Trumpf 3030 fibre laser cutter. The front section with the curved forms are folded up and the then extended sides are created but spot welding them to the front section with support strips as the overlapping joint inside the profile. The spot welding tips on the outside sheet metal surface were flat to reduce the amount of distortion and any indents to these surfaces. Spot welding is good for madding welded joints were great strength is not needed, they can be much quicker than TiG or MiG welding but as they are so small several spots are needed over a larger are to ensure sufficient joint strength is achieved.

After the spot welded joints had been made the outer surfaces were cleaned off and the orbital sanded before being powder coated silver.

If you have a sheet metal work project that needs welding then perhaps you might consider using our skills, please give us a call on 01489 577786 or e-mail us some drawings at sales@vandf.co.uk