Amazing companies choose PROTOTEK for high-quality parts done fast!
Sheet Metal Prototyping Quotes – Working with PROTOTEK
Deep capabilities in sheet metal and machining – design, sheet metal prototyping, manufacturing, finishing, and even complex assemblies.
What do we do?
- Sheet Metal Parts & Assemblies in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- CNC Milled and Turned Parts in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- Complex Parts
- Same Day or Emergency Jobs – Call us Now!
About our fast, flexible personalized service:
- ISO-9001:2015 Certified, ITAR Registered
- Quotes within 24 Hours – Call us if you need it faster!
- Estimates with or without CAD Models
- We Want Complex Jobs – We Quote Parts Others Reject
Because every sheet metal prototyping job is unique, and many require special considerations for materials, finishing, custom work, and/or urgent delivery – our sheet metal prototyping quotes are turned around by seasoned estimators who confirm all aspects of your job. No automated quoting that works on cookie-cutter algorithms here to limit your project or your imagination. We figure out the best way to run your job first – and that’s why we deliver so many sheet metal prototyping jobs that other shops turn away.
Our prototyping services & other capabilities start below but they don’t stop there. Want to talk to someone about a job, upload a file for quote or call us now.
NO CAD MODEL, NO PROBLEM
QUOTES WITHIN 24HRS
PARTS & ASSEMBLIES – ONE STOP SHOP
NO ORDER TOO SMALL
EXPEDITED PARTS IN 1-3 DAYS
PROTOTEK AS SEEN ON MANUFACTURING MARVELS®
- Manufacturing Design Assistance
- Laser Cutting - Punching
- Material Graining
- Drilling - Countersinking - Tapping
- Forming - Bending
- Hardware Insertion
- Mechanical Assembly
- TIG, MIG, Spot Welding & Weld Grinding
- Welded Assemblies & Frames
- Up to 5-Axis Milling
- Horizontal & Vertical Milling
- 9-Axis Mill-Turn
- CNC Routing
- Surface Grinding
- Lapping & Polishing
- Welding / Post-Weld Machining
- Heli-Coils / Hardware Inserts
Cutting & Engraving
- Wire EDM Cutting
- Waterjet Cutting
- CO2 Laser
- Quality Engineering Assistance
- CMM Inspection Services
- First Article and AQL Inspections
- Compliance and Document Control
Plastic & Composite Fabrication
- Plastic Thermoforming - Bending
- Cryogenic Deflashing & Deburring
- Plastic Welding
- Thermal, Adhesive, & Mechanical Bonding
- Vapor Polishing
- Radiological Film-Cutting Services
- Manufacturing Design Assistance
- Tooling and Fixture Fabrication
- Electro-Mechanical Services
- Welded, Mechanical, & Small Parts Assembly
- Wire Harnessing
- Laser Cutting – Polymers & Metals
- Insert Installation
- Powder Coating
- Chemical Agent Resistant Coating
- Silk Screening
- Laser Engraving
- Chem Film
- Black Oxide
- Bead Blasting
- Laser Sintering
- Multi Jet Fusion
- Digital Light Processing
- Fused Filament Fabrication
- Material Jetting
- Cast Urethane
Sourcing the Best Sheet Metal Prototypes in 2021
If you’ve worked with different fabrication and prototyping services, you know that they aren’t all created equally. PROTOTEK is known for our quick turnaround on sheet metal and machining parts, starting with our rapid quoting. That’s why so many engineers and designers rely on PROTOTEK as their “one-stop-shop” for all of their part needs.
Table of Contents
PROTOTEK: A One-Stop Sheet Metal Fabrication Company
- Fast-Flexible Personalized Service
- Quotes in 24 Hours
- Same Day or Emergency Jobs – Call 1-800-403-9777
- Precision Sheet Metal Parts & Assemblies in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- CNC Milled and Turned Parts in as Fast as 1-3 Days
- Finishing Options in House – No Added Delivery Time
- We Bid Complex Jobs – Don’t Get No Bid
- Silk Screening and Laser Engraving
- ISO-9001 Certified, ITAR Registered
- Estimates With or Without CAD Models
What is Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication?
When people talk about sheet metal fabrication, they are discussing the process that is used to manipulate materials to create a component that will be used in an end product. It involves a material being cut, formed and finished. Sheet metal fabrication is used in pretty much every sort of manufacturing field, notably in medical equipment, computers, electronics and appliances. Essentially, anything that is constructed out of or contains metal will have gone through these processes:
Cutting There are a number of ways that sheet metal can be cut into smaller pieces – shearing involves a cutting machine using shear stress to cut down a large piece of material into smaller ones; electrical discharge machining (EDM) involves conductive materials being melted with a spark from a charged electrode; abrasive cutting involves the use of grinders or saws to cut through material; and laser cutting involves the use of a laser for achieving precise cuts in sheet metal.
Forming After the metal has been cut, it will be formed into what shape is desired for the component it is needed for. There are several techniques of forming that can be used – rolling involves flat pieces of metal being shaped over and over with a roll stand; bending and forming involves the material being manipulated by hand; stamping involves the use of tools to stamp designs into the sheet metal; punching involves holes being put into the surface; and welding involves one piece of material being joined to another using heat.
Finishing Once the metal has been formed, it will be passed through a finishing process to ensure it is ready for use. This will involve the metal being sharpened or polished with an abrasive to remove or eliminate rough spots and edges. This process may also involve the metal being quickly cleaned or rinsed to ensure that it is completely clean when it is delivered to the factory for its intended purpose.
As you can see, sheet metal fabrication is highly important in the creation of any component that contains metal (from your laptop all the way through to the paperclips holding your files together). If you do not have the time or the resources to fabricate your own materials, you can employ a specialist fabricator to do this for you. Not only will this give you more time to focus on creating your products, but it will also ensure that you receive the best finish possible on your metal components.
- Metal fabrication is the creation of metal structures by cutting, bending and assembling processes. It is a value-added process involving the creation of machines, parts, and structures from various raw materials.
- Typically, a fabrication shop bids on a job, usually based on engineered drawings, and if awarded the contract, builds the product. Large fabrication shops employ a multitude of value-added processes, including welding, cutting, forming and machining.
- Metal fabrication usually starts with drawings with precise dimensions and specifications. Fabrication shops are employed by contractors, OEMs and VARs. Typical projects include loose parts, structural frames for buildings, heavy equipment, stairs and hand railings.
- As with other manufacturing processes, both human labor and automation are commonly used. A fabricated product may be called a fabrication, and shops specializing in this type of work are called fab shops. The end products of other common types of metalworking, such as machining, metal stamping, forging, and casting, may be similar in shape and function, but these processes are not classified as fabrication.
Sheet Metal Materials
- Materials we work with include ESD-safe plastics and metals including Titanium, Gold, Copper and
- We also work with ABS, Corzan, Delrin®, Ertalyte®, Kevlar, Kynar®, Lexan®, Nylon, PE, PP, PU,
PlexiGlas®, PVC, Radel®, Ryton®, Semitron, Torlon®, Ultem®, Vespel® and Victrex®.
Sheet Metal Materials List
|Sheet Metal Material||Grade / Alloy||Max. Sheet Material Thickness (in)||Heat Treatable||Tensile Strength (Ultimate, PSI)||Fatigue Strength (PSI)||Hardness (Brinell)||Machinability (AISI Rating)||Sheet Metal Material||Grade / Alloy||Max. Sheet Material Thickness (in)||Heat Treatable||Tensile Strength (Ultimate, PSI)||Fatigue Strength (PSI)||Hardness (Brinell)||Machinability (AISI Rating)|
Sheet Metal Design Considerations
- The following sections address common areas.
- By aligning to better designs, you can often save money on the cost of a part.
Corner Construction Types and Tips
Full Overlap: Typically chosen when welding is not needed. Ensure proper bend relief is being used at the intersection of the 2 bends. This corner construction is the most economical choice and should be chosen where there is no need to secure the corner of a sheet metal part.
Half Lap: A preferred choice for steel and stainless parts when welding is required. This will allow for proper weld penetration and limit the amount of heat required when welding, which in turn will help reduce distortion. Proper bend relief should be ensured for half lap construction.
Open Corner: Chosen for Aluminum parts where a full weld penetration is important. Typically there is no need for bend relief when open corner construction is chosen. Open corner construction can also be used for other materials where parts are subject to high-stress environments.
Spot Weld Flanges: Another popular choice for corner construction. This construction is not seamless like fully welded corners but can be a more economical option. Proper bend relief and alignment holes should be considered when choosing to add spot weld flanges. Alignment holes can be filled with weld and ground smooth if required.
Pop Rivet Flanges: Similar to spot welds, flanges are typically the most economical choice to secure the corners of a sheet metal part. Holes are added through the walls with flanges where pop rivets are inserted to secure the corner.
What are bends? Adding bends to a flat sheet of metal transforms that metal into a three-dimensional piece.
What is Wall Thickness? Wall thickness refers to the overall thickness of the metal being used to create the part. Sheet metal parts are created from a single sheet of metal. This means the part needs to maintain a uniform wall thickness.
Wall Thickness Design Considerations
What is bend relief? Bend reliefs help strengthen transitions from bend to flat surface (or from bend to another bend) in sheet metal. When a bend is made close to an edge, there is the risk the material may tear. Bend reliefs are small cuts in the material perpendicular to the bend to help prevent tearing.
Bend Relief Design considerations
Slots and Holes
What are some design guidelines around slots and holes? Holes and slots generally need to follow guidelines around sizing and be placed at certain distances from edges and bends to avoid material warping and to maintain structural integrity. If hardware inserts are required, spacing should be according to manufacturer’s specifications.
Slots and Holes Design considerations
Tabs and Notches
What is notching? Notching is a metal-cutting process used on sheet metal or thin bar stock, sometimes on angle sections or tubes. A shearing or punching process is used in a press to cut vertically down and perpendicular to the surface, working from the edge of a workpiece. Sometimes the goal is merely the notch itself, but usually, this is a precursor to some other process: such as bending a corner in a sheet or joining two tubes at a tee joint, notching one to fit closely to the other.
What is the difference between a notch and a tab? Notching is a metal-cutting process in which an intrusion or cut is made on the edge of the sheet metal while a tab feature is created by adding material to the walls of the sheet metal component.
What is hemming? Hemming in sheet metal fabrication is when the edge of the sheet is folded back on itself or folded over another part to fasten two sheet metal parts. This may be done to improve the appearance of a part, reinforce part edges or increase the part stiffness. Hems can be open or closed.
Hem Design considerations
What are countersinks? Countersinking is commonly used for holes that need to accept a flat head screw or fastener when the hardware needs to be flush with the surface of the part. They can be created either using machines like a drill press or formed with punch press tooling.
Countersink Design considerations
What is welding? Welding in sheet metal is used to seal the edges of bent parts. Prototek offers resistance spot welding (RSW), gas metal arc welding (MIG) and gas tungsten arc welding (TIG). The type of welding will vary for each individual project.
What is an Offset in Sheet Metal? Offsets are a double bend on a piece of sheet metal that adds a second tier to your part, typically shaped like a z.
Offset Design considerations
Additional resources – please call Prototek at 1-800-403-9777.
Common Rejected or No Bid Prototypes
Received a no-bid on your prototype? Many companies will no-bid complex-forming operations or non-standard materials because of the expertise and machining needed to be able to deliver on it cost-effectively.
What are Commonly Rejected Sheet Metal Forming and Materials? Below is an image and list of some sheet metal examples commonly rejected.
- Card Guides
- Bridge Lancing
- Ground Stamping
- Progressive Ribs
- Progressive Louvers
- Custom Hinges
- Exotic Forming – can work outside machine parameters
- Forming of Polycarbonates
- Extruded Taps
- Corner Gussets
At Prototek, we handle everything above and more.
Prototek Trending Topics
- Sheet Metal Fabrication
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- Water Jet Cutting
Frequently Asked Questions
What questions should I be asking a sheet metal prototyping company?
What is your current capacity?
What is your turn time?
Can you provide an NDA?
Do you quote from a solid model or drawings?
When can I expect my quote?
What materials do you work with?
What are your standard tolerances?
Do you install inserts?
Do you do tig welding?
Do you do any finishing?
Do you provide silk screening and assembly services?
Do you do design work or reverse engineering?
What are your standard radii?
What are some common reasons companies reject sheet metal prototypes?
Length or width issues
Thickness (too thin, too thick)
Special tooling or forming that requires tools or skills
The company does not have certifications to meet the requirements of the part
What makes Prototek different is our ability to handle the most complex jobs – having the capability to quote most any prototyping project across processes and finishes.
How fast can Prototek respond to a quote?
In most cases, we will get back to you within 24 hrs. If all information required is not provided, we will contact you. If you require a quote much faster, please contact us and speak to one of our skilled team members.
What types of metals can be used for sheet metal forming?
Cold rolled steel, hot rolled steel, aluminum, stainless, copper, brass, beryllium, titanium, galvanized
What are common sheet metal material thickness ranges?
.005, .006, .010, .017, .020, .023, .025, .030, .032, .036, .040, .042, .048, .050, .059, .060, .063, .074, .075, .080, .090, .100, .104, .105, .134, .135, .160, .179, .188, .190, .239, .250, .312, .375, .437, .500, .625
What are minimum and maximum dimensions in inches?
We will discuss your dimension needs directly with you.
What are tolerances?
Tolerance is a limit or limits of a physical dimension, measured value, or physical property of a material or manufactured object.
What is air bending vs coining?
Air bending is a method where the material is forced into a V-die opening requiring less bend force and tonnage. You can use smaller tooling and the angle of the tool is less important. Air bending requires a little more attention as the angles will not be as consistent and require forming to a more acute angle due to spring back.
Prototek uses a press brake tool for air bending, coining, and bottoming. We can also work with designs needing three-point bending, folding, wiping, rotary bending, roll bending, elastomer bending and joggle bending.
Coining involves using enough tonnage to conform the material to the exact angle of the punch and die. Coining is used more in production where a lot of parts will be manufactured and need to hold exact tolerances and precise angle of your tooling.
What is plating?
Plating provides many benefits to products made from metal and other materials. Plating is a manufacturing process in which a thin layer of metal coats a substrate. This can be achieved through electroplating which requires an electric current or through electroless plating which is in an autocatalytic chemical process.
What is stitch welding?
Stitch welding or intermittent welding involves initiating a weld, typically indicated on a drawing, terminating the weld, and then starting again along with the joint a specified distance from the previous weld. Stitch welding can be used when air or liquid tightness (Seal) is not a requirement when structural integrity is not a concern or to control heat.
What is Prototek’s finishing process?
Prototek utilizes a multi-step process of anodizing & finishing which includes cleaning, treatment, anodizing, coloring, sealing, and numerous quality rinses in between each phase. We focus on controlling the pH, temperature, concentration, frequency, and duration. Our technicians maintain multiple controls in the tank to ensure a consistent, quality coating. As industrial craftsmen, these processes and quality phases are the art and science we take pride in delivering high-quality parts to our partners.
What is the range of part thickness Prototek works with?
Prototek can manufacture sheet metal parts ranging in thickness from .0.010 inches to .25 inches.