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2019/4/4 SheetMetal.

Me – Design Guidelines

Design Guidelines Home / Design Guidelines

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Fabrication Formulas
Tooling Terminology
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Bends are the most typical feature of sheet metal parts and can be formed by a I'm a human.
variety of methods and machines which negate the absolute need for some of
the below tips.  However for typical parts meant to be cost e ective and easily Log In
produced the following tips should be useful. Register

Design Guidelines
The minumum ange length is based on the die used to bend.  Consult
and Air Bend Force Chart to determine typical minimum ange lengths.
Gauge Chart When multiple bends are on the same plane try and design the part so
the bends all face the same direction.  This will prevent the need for the
operator to ip the part.  This also bene ts man leaf and panel benders
which can only bend one direction per setup.
Avoid large parts when possible, and especially large parts with small or
detailed anges.  Chasing a large part through each bend can be
dangerous and exhausting for an operator.  This also makes you
vulnerable to reduced part accuracy.
Always consult a tooling pro le chart when developing your part.  Know
the tools available in your shop or the standards if you are outsourcing
production.  Specialized tooling cen be very expensive.

Counterbores & Countersinks

While thinner gauge sheets won’t often be countersunk there are a few
guidelines to try and follow on thicker sheets to preserve the strength of the
material and prevent deformation fo the features during forming.

The distance between two countersinks should be kept to at least 8

times the material thickness.
To ensure strength the distance between a countersink’s edge and the
edge of the material should be 4 times the material thickness.
There should be at least %50 contact between the fastener and the
surface of the countersink.
To prevent any deformation of the hole the edge of
the countersink should be at least 3 times the material thickness from
the tangent point of the bend.


When adding a Curl to the edge of a sheet the following guidelines will ensure

that no special tooling is required.

The outside radius of a curl can be no smaller than 2 times the material
thickness.  This will create an opening with a 1 material thickness radius.
A hole should be at least the radius of the curl plus material thickness
from the curl feature.
A bend should be at least the radius of the curl plus 6 times the material
thickness from the curl feature.


The diameter of a dimple should be no more than 6 times the material

The inside depth of a dimple should be no more than the inside radius.
A hole should be at least three times material thickness away from the
edge of the dimple.  Or the inside radius of the dimple plus 3 times
material thickness.
From the part’s edge, dimples should be at least 4 times material
thickness plus the radius of the dimple.

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2019/4/4 SheetMetal.Me – Design Guidelines
From a bend, dimples should be at least 2 times material thickness plus
the dimple radius plus the bend radius.
From another dimple, dimples should be 4 times material thickness plus
the inside radius of each dimple.

Embossments & Ribbing

Embossments and o sets should be measured to the same side of

material unless it is necessary to hold an outside dimension.
For round embossments or ribs, maximum depth is equal to the internal
radius of the embossment.
Fabrication Formulas
For at embossments, the maximum depth is equal to the inside radius
plus the outside radius.
Tooling Terminology
For V embossments the maximum depth is equal to 3 times material
Embossments should be at least 3 times material thickness from a hole’s
Between two parallel ribs, minimum distance is 10 times material
thickness plus the radius of the ribs.
Design Guidelines
Extruded Holes
Gauge Chart
Between two extruded holes, distance should be at least 6 times material
From edge to extruded hole, distance should be at least 3 times material
From bend to extruded hole, distance should be 3 times material
thickness plus bend radius.


Gussets are used to strengthen a ange without the need

for secondary processes such as welding.  While gussets will almost always
require custom tooling some basic guidlines should help.  Be sure to consult
with your factory’s Brake Press department to learn what they are equipped to

45° gussets shouldn’t be designed to be more than 4 times material

thickness on their at edge
For holes, the distance between the gusset and the hole’s edge should be
at least 8 times material thickness.


Hems are used to create folds in sheet metal in order to sti en edges and
create an edge safe to touch.

For tear drop hems, the inside diameter should be equal to the material
For open hems, the bend will lose its roundness when the
inside diameter is greater than the material thickness.
For holes, the minimum distance between the hole’s edge is 2 times the
material thickness plus the hem’s radius.
For bends, the minimum distance between the inside edge of the bend
and the outside of the hem should be 5 times material thickness plus
bend radius plus hem radius.

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Distance from outside mold line to the bottom of the cutout should be
equal to the minimum ange length prescribed by the air bend force
Rule Of Thumb: 2.5* Material Thickness + Bend Radius.
When using a punch press the diameter of a hole should always be equal
to that of your tooling and you should never use a tool who’s diameter is
less than that of the material’s thickness.

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2019/4/4 SheetMetal.Me – Design Guidelines
Rule Of Thumb: Never design a hole smaller than .040” Diameter
unless laser cutting.
When using a punch press holes should be at least 1 material thickness
from any edge.  This prevents bulging along the edge.

Lances & Louvers

Formed lances and louvers will almost always require specialized tooling so be

sure to understand what is available to you before designing the feature.

The minimum depth of a lance should be twice the material thickness

Fabrication Formulas
and at least .125”
If the lance if formed with standard tooling be sure that the length of the
Tooling Terminology
bend is dividable by a standard set of Sectionalized Tooling.
From a bend, lances should be at least 3 times material thickness plus
bend radius, however the actual minimum is often much greater than
this and driven by the tooling pro le.
From a hole, lances should be at least 3 time material thickness from the
edge of the hole.
Design Guidelines
Notches & Reliefs
Gauge Chart
The minimum width of a notch is equal to the material thickness and at
least .04”.  This is negated if the blank is being cut by a Laser System in
which case the minimum is only the kerf of the laser.
When determining the length of a notch it is very important to
understand the tooling used to cut the notch.  When possible the notch
should be equal to a multiple of the punch’s length in order to prevent
nibbling from occurring.
From a bend, the minimum distance is 3 times material length plus the
bend radius.
When fabricating with a Punch Press the minimum space between two
notches should be at least 2 time material thickness and at least .125”


Welding by hand should be restricted to gauges thicker than 20 gauge.

Spot welding should be used for joining equally thick co-planar surfaces. 
The arm geometry and throat depth of the spot welder will be
a limiting factor.
Welded joints should be designed with as tight of tolerances as possible
to remove the need for a welder to add wire.
Wire material should always be the same as the material being welded.


Sharp edges and corners will typically receive about twice as much as the

plating material because of the current density in these areas.
If possible tap and thread after plating, else assume that the material will
grow up to 4 times the typical platting thickness, compensate pitch and
depth accordingly.
Avoid recessed areas which are di cult to reach.
Because the parts are going to be hung from hooks and dipped it is
bene cial to design hanging holes into your part rather than leaving the
decision to the plater.  These holes can be small, just enough to get a
wire hook through.  These holes will also give you control over how the
part is positioned when it is dipped.
In addition to hanging holes design drainage holes.  Knowing the
orientation of the part from your hanging holes make sure the part can
be easily cleaned after plating.
Assume all areas of the part will be plated, masking is not recommended.

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