Tips For Sheet Metal Design and Fabrication: What You Need to Know

tips for sheet metal design

Sheet metal fabrication can be tricky, especially if you need to familiarize yourself with the process. Even experienced fabricators sometimes need help getting the results they want from sheet metal. This is because a mass of little things can go wrong if you’re not careful. We’ve compiled a list of our top design tips for sheet metal fabrication to help make the manufacturing process easier for you.

Factors Need To Pay Attention To When Designing Plates From

There are a few key factors to keep in mind regarding sheet metal design.

The thickness of the material will affect both the strength and rigidity of the final part.

Sharp corners can be challenging to translate into physical reality, so rounding them off may be necessary.

DFM, or design for manufacturability, is an essential consideration for any sheet metal parts. DFM considers the manufacturing process’s limitations and how they can impact the final product. This includes material properties, tolerances, surface finish, and assembly. By considering DFM during the design process, engineers can avoid potential problems down the line and create easier and less expensive parts to manufacture.

Considering all of these factors, you can ensure that your sheet metal parts are solid and easy to produce.

Helpful Sheet Metal Design Tips

Here are eight practical and key sheet metal design tips for different aspects.

Bend Radius:

Bend Radius

Keeping the Bend radius in mind when designing projects made from sheet metal is crucial. Bend relief is provided at the end of the bending edge in sheet metal design to avoid any crack tearing in the corner. Recommended bend relief height is always more than two times sheet thickness plus bend radius. 

This is the minimum radius that the metal can be bent without breaking.

The general rule of thumb is that the Bend radius should be at least three times the thickness of the metal. But this may vary depending on the type of metal being used. For example, aluminum has a higher Bend radius than steel.

Keeping these guidelines in mind ensures that your sheet metal project will be strong and successful.

Related Article:

How To Bend Sheet Metal?

Edge Bending:

There are a few key things to remember regarding edge bending.

  • It’s vital to ensure the metal is thick enough to withstand bending.
  • The metal should be annealed before bending to help prevent cracking.
  • Using the proper tools and techniques is essential when performing the actual bends.

Bend Orientation:

One of the most critical considerations is bend orientation. How you orient your bends can significantly impact your product’s final strength and stability, so planning it out is essential.

In general, it’s best to avoid having two bends close together – this can put unnecessary stress on the material and make it more likely to break.

Additionally, position your bends so that other parts of the structure support them – this will help distribute the load evenly and prevent any single point from bearing too much weight.

Hole Sizes:

hole size

Getting the hole sizes right is crucial if you’re working with sheet metal. If the holes are too small, the metal will be weak and could break. If the holes are too large, the metal will be less durable and more prone to corrosion. So what’s the perfect hole size? Here is something noteworthy to keep in mind:

The thickness of the metal will affect the ideal hole size. Thicker metal can handle larger holes without compromising strength, while thinner metal will require smaller holes.

The type of metal also matters. Softer metals like aluminum can deform quicker, so smaller holes are typically best. Harder metals like steel can handle larger holes without losing their shape.

The application also needs to be considered. If the sheet metal is used for structural purposes, then larger holes might not be an option. But if aesthetics are more critical, then large holes might be acceptable.


sheet metal materials

The last paragraph mentioned the material, and this paragraph expanded on the material.

Stainless steel, aluminum, and copper have different properties that must be considered to achieve the desired results.

Another critical factor is the cold rolled versus the pre-plated state of the material. Cold-rolled material is much more challenging and requires special care to avoid damaging the finish. Pre-plated material is much easier to work with and can often be processed without special considerations.

Considering all these factors, you can ensure that your sheet metal processing project turns out exactly as you intended.

Proper Sheet Metal Thickness:

Selecting the appropriate thickness of the sheet metal is crucial. Too thin, and the part may lack strength, while too thick can lead to difficulties in fabrication and excess weight. Consult with your fabricator to determine the optimal thickness for your application.

Tight Tolerances:

bend tolerance

In many cases, careful part and feature design can avoid the need for tight tolerances in sheet metal designs. For example, using fewer or smaller features, avoiding sharp inside corners, increasing corner radii, and tapering features can help relax dimensional tolerances.

However, some design tips can help ensure your parts meet their specifications when tight tolerances are necessary.

It’s essential to use data that are as large as possible. This will minimize the effects of any variations in the material.

Consider using symmetry and patterning to even out potential variations. Make sure to specify surface finishes appropriate for the desired tolerance level.

By doing the above, you can help to ensure that your sheet metal parts meet their dimensional requirements.

Avoid Overly Complex Designs:

When it comes to sheet metal design, you should keep a few things in mind to avoid overly complex designs.

One is to use as few cuts as possible. This may seem counterintuitive, but the more cuts you make, the more opportunities there are for inaccuracies and irregularities.

Try to use simple shapes whenever possible.

Ensure all of your design’s features are essential and serve a purpose.

Avoid unnecessarily thin or small features, as these can be difficult to fabricate and easily damaged.

Think about how your design will be manufactured and assembled before you begin fabrication.

Flange Width:

One of the most important factors is the width of the flange.

The flange is the sheet metal part that sticks out and provides rigidity to the structure. If the flange is too narrow, it will not be strong enough to support the weight of the material.

On the other hand, if the flange is too wide, it will add unnecessary bulk and weight to the design. Therefore, it is crucial to balance these two extremes to create a successful sheet metal design.

Finishing and Surface Treatments:

The choice of surface finish and treatment can impact the appearance and performance of your sheet metal component. Options include powder coating, anodizing, plating, or painting. Select the most appropriate finish based on environmental factors and application requirements.

Prototyping and Testing:

Before proceeding with full-scale production, create prototypes to test the design’s feasibility and functionality. Prototyping helps identify potential issues and allows for necessary adjustments to be made before mass production.

Related Articles:

Sheet Metal Design Guide For Product Manufacturing

9 Sheet Metal Enclosure Design Tips You Need To Know

Company Strength

As a leading sheet metal design company, we have a proven track record of providing quality and innovative solutions to our clients. We have highly skilled and experienced engineers who can provide customized designs that meet the specific needs of our clients. In addition, we use the latest software and technology to ensure that our designs are accurate and up-to-date. As a result, we can provide our clients with the best possible solution for their sheet metal needs. Contact us today to learn more about our company and how we can help you with your sheet metal design needs.


Mastering sheet metal design and fabrication can be complex, but you can achieve the desired results with the right tips and guidance. You can minimize errors and ensure a smooth manufacturing process by paying attention to key design considerations, such as material selection, bend radius, and tolerances.

Working closely with experienced fabricators who can offer valuable insights and expertise is important. Remember, even the most skilled fabricators sometimes need help, so don’t hesitate to seek assistance when needed. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle sheet metal design and fabrication projects confidently.


Sheet metal is a versatile and durable material used for various applications. As such, it is unsurprising that sheet metal design is a popular area of inquiry. Below are some questions that often need answers about sheet metal design.

How Do I Choose The Suitable Sheet Metal For My Project?

The type of sheet metal you choose will depend on the intended use of the finished piece. For example, if you need a strong and durable piece, you might choose stainless steel. You might choose aluminum if you need a lightweight piece and easy to work with. Ultimately, the best way to choose the suitable sheet metal is to consult a professional to help you select the best option for your project.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Sheet Metal Fabrication?

There are numerous types of sheet metal fabrication, but some of the most common include stamping, laser cutting, and waterjet cutting. Each fabrication type has advantages and disadvantages, so selecting the best option is vital.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Sheet Metal In My Design?

Sheet metal offers several advantages over other materials, including its durability, versatility, and ease of fabrication. Additionally, sheet metal can be recycled or reused, which makes it an environmentally friendly option.

What Industries Commonly Use Sheet Metal Fabrication?

Sheet metal fabrication is widely used in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, construction, and manufacturing industries.

Can I Use Sheet Metal For High-Temperature Applications?

Certain materials like stainless steel are suitable for high-temperature applications due to their excellent heat resistance.

How Do I Choose Between Welding And Fasteners For Assembly?

The choice depends on factors like design complexity, material thickness, and the level of disassembly required. Welding provides a seamless finish, while fasteners allow for easier maintenance.