February 2019: Aluminum Sheet Metal Bending
Disclaimer: I hold no responsibility to your personal safety. Fabrication and welding often requires heat, flames, and other things that can harm you if not properly equipped or prepared. Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times because if you havenít set something on fire it is only a matter of time. Fabricate at your own risk
Did a small side project for my RS. The fuse panel sits right where the passenger airbag was so I figured a cover would be appropriate and keep the largest portion of wiring hidden and tidy.
I started with a model in fusion. The sheet metal workspace makes sheet metal bending and cutting a breeze. Since I unfortunately do not have a industrial sized printer and it was Sunday that I started (Staples was closed, I am impatient) , I was limited to 8.5◊11 so I needed all the corresponding dimensions.
With a the dimensions laid out I transferred it to 1:1 on to another sheet. It takes a lot more attention to detail to lay it out on paper with dimensions as it only takes a few times of drawing your line on the wrong side of the ruler to have the whole thing skewed my a 1/16th or more. I have done it a few times now to know to keep a mechanical pencil handy and to use the same ruler throughout the entire layout. You may still be off by a hair or too but the semantics can be altered once the piece is in sheet metal.
The hard part is done now it was as easy as tracing it out onto aluminum and cutting it out. Now since I wanted the piece to be 3D without having to weld 5 separate pieces I added bends into the drawing. There are a few different ways to bend sheet metal and since the likelihood of you guys having access to a finger brake is slim I chose to do it with a homeade press brake. Since my bends were a round number at 90 degrees I could better get away with this. If the bend required is say, 37 degrees, you will be less than fortunate. A press brake is simple, you have a die, a sheet of metal and then your radius die. The bottom die pictured below is a piece of angle iron welded to another piece of angle iron to allow it to stand by itself.
The idea is to press your sheet into the lower die using a die who's radius is the same as the bend you desire. I modeled the drawing with a .125" radius so I could utilize a simple piece of quarter inch flat stock as my upper radius die. I rounded the ended slightly on the upper die to prevent any unwanted gouging in the bend. The sheet is placed atop the die with your bend line centered in relation to both dies. Slowly press your sheet into the lower die using the aforementioned press , adjusting the sheet to center if need be. If you play your cards right it forms a uniform radius bend without having to relief cut or any of that nonsense.
When I finished the cover I quickly realized it looked pretty bland. Maybe some labels, nah. A few stickers, negative too gawdy. A personalized logo, now we are talking. Some of you may have seen my "Factory Fabrication" stickers floating around in my journal as that is what I masquerade as for any sidework I take on. A few doodles later I whipped up this:
Twin stylized F's for you guessed it, Factory fabrication. As much as I like hand drawings it was easier to pop the drawing into Fusion to make sure it was perfectly symmetrical and give me nice drill and cut lines.
I don't have a plasma table to I cut out the logo with a hand shear and then filed all the remaining material.
Which I then welded onto the cover, drilled the holes and mounted it so together. I don't like how the center weld looks so I think I am going to leave the center slot open next time.
Questions, comments, critiques are always welcome. I hadn't touched a TIG in nearly a month before this project so I wasn't entirely displeased with my welds but there's always improvement to be made.