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Prototype Sheet Metal Parts

  • Highly Durable Metal Parts
  • Precise Components with Tight Tolerances
  • Variety of Metals & Alloys with Unique Properties
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Prototype Sheet Metal Parts

Using the latest in sheet metal technology, Fathom delivers high-quality prototype sheet metal parts to its customers. Whether your project is time-sensitive, high-precision, highly complex or short production run related, Fathom will meet your requirements.

Sheet Metal Prototype Parts by Process Type / /

In the gallery below are examples of recently completed projects sorted by process, such as laser cutting and press brake forming. Questions about which manufacturing process is the best match for your design? Contact Fathom today.

Laser Parts

Laser PartsLaser PartsLaser Parts

Microcut Parts

Microcut PartsMicrocut PartsMicrocut Parts

Plated Parts

Plated PartsPlated PartsPlated Parts

Precision Forming Parts

Precision Forming PartsPrecision Forming PartsPrecision Forming PartsPrecision Forming PartsPrecision Forming PartsPrecision Forming Parts

Seely Slide Parts

Seely Slide Parts

Water Jet Parts

Water Jet Parts

Designing Sheet Metal Parts: Best Practices / /

When designing for sheet metal prototypes, there are some best practices to keep in mind. For gussets, maintain a minimum spacing of 2-2.5x raw material thickness from edge of cutout to bend radius tangency. Ribs may require a secondary trimming. Embossing can be used to strengthen a part and may be used as a standoff feature. When designing a coin, the smaller the feature, the greater the cost. To ensure cost-effective production, design cut and bend reliefs with a minimum of 2.5x material thickness.

  • Gusset
  • Rib
  • Emboss
  • Coin
  • Cut/Bend Relief

Benefits of Creating a Sheet Metal Prototype Part / /

There are multiple benefits to creating a sheet metal prototype. Most sheet metal processes are fully automated, which results in a quicker turnaround. It is also very easy to spot any modifications needed during the prototype stage before moving onto full production. Additionally, it is much simpler to transition from a metal prototype to metal part than it is from a plastic part to metal part. Sheet metal is a highly durable and widely available material that is ideal for many different environments and extreme conditions. Stainless steel, aluminum, titanium and more are all available as sheet metal. Sheet metal is highly affordable while still offering great quality. Lastly, thanks to the latest in CNC manufacturing, sheet metal prototypes can be made with a high level of accuracy and repeatability.

Prototype Sheet Metal Parts Processes / /

Fiber Laser Cutting

During laser cutting, machines make their cuts inside an enclosure without the use of mechanical components. The enclosure helps to minimize the risk to the machine operator while also decreasing noise. The fiber laser uses laser diodes transmitted through optical fibers to create the desired cuts. Fiber laser cutting is considered a highly efficient manufacturing process because it of a high-power output and a high intensity level.

Waterjet Cutting

To make cuts, waterjet cutting uses a high-pressure pump which forces water through a nozzle. The cut is facilitated by a balance of volume and velocity. When an abrasive cut is required, abrasive media is mixed with water. The water and abrasive media can both be reused and recycled which helps to increase energy efficiency while cutting costs.

Microcut™ Micro Water Jet Cutting

Waterjet cutting on a micro level is known as Microcut™. Micro waterjet cutting allows for a high-level of accuracy to produce tiny and complex parts.

Wire EDM

During wire EDM manufacturing, the workpiece is submerged in a dielectric bath where a charged thin metal wire uses electrical sparks to make cuts. The spark’s voltage jumps the gap between the wire and the raw material, causing the material to melt. The metal wire never contacts the workpiece. The dielectric liquid is used to cool, control sparks and flush away excess material.

Stamping

Stamping may include punching, blanking, bending, drawing, embossing and more. During stamping, a blanked or coiled piece of sheet metal is placed onto a press where a stamping tool containing the desired shape is pressed onto the workpiece.

Forming

To begin the forming process, sheet metal is loaded onto a flatbed where a laser cutter draws pre-programmed parts onto the material. To add additional materials to the part, a sheet metal punch may be used. The part is deburred and then moved to a press brake where it is shaped further.

Prototype Etching

Prototype etching may involve photochemical machining, chemical milling, or acid etching. The raw material is selectively removed by using baths of temperature-controlled etching chemicals. Chemical etching is ideal for prototyping because of its shorter lead time and inexpensive tooling.

Production Etching

Production etching uses photochemical machining or chemical milling to make highly precise and intricate parts. Production etching is perfect for transitioning prototypes to production as it is cost-effective, quick, and offers design flexibility.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting uses a high-powered laser beam to cut raw material. Laser cutting may use a gas, liquid or solid-state laser. CO2 lasers use a gas state laser using a mixture of carbon dioxide to make cuts. Solid state lasers use laser diodes transmitted through optical fibers to create cuts.

CNC Punching

During CNC punching, the machine moves raw material in a 2-axis direction, placing it beneath the punching ram. The punching ram punches a hole or form into the sheet metal. CNC punch press machines can have one head and tool rail design or a multi-turret design.

Prototype sheet metal parts Services Offered by Fathom / /

Work with Fathom on your next sheet metal prototype. Our services include laser cutting, water jet cutting, Microcut™ and photochemical machining and more. Utilizing our comprehensive program, we can finish your project completely in-house, from design assistance to manufacturing to finishing and assembly. Fathom offers post-processing services such as welding, deburring, bead blasting and more. Precision sheet metal manufacturing is just one of 28 manufacturing services offered by Fathom.

Additive Manufacturing

  • FDM
  • SLS
  • SLA
  • Polyjet
  • MJF
  • DMLS
  • DLS
  • STEP (Evolve)

CNC Machining

  • CNC (3 & 5 Axis)
  • CNC Lathe
  • Precision Grinding
  • Wire & Sinker EDM

Injection Molding

  • Injection Molding
  • Tooling
  • Compression Molding

Metal Cutting and Forming

  • Thermoforming
  • Sheet Metal Punching
  • Sheet Metal Cutting
  • Metal Forming
  • Laser Cutting
  • Water Jet Cutting
  • Chemical Etching
  • Welding
  • Micro Cutting

Standalone

  • Die Casting
  • Urethane Casting
  • Composite Layups
  • Extrusion
  • Post Processing & Finishing
    • Pad Printing
    • Powder Coating
    • Bead Blasting
    • Surface Grinding
    • Polishing
    • Anodize
    • Powder Coat Passivate
    • Chemfilm
    • Vacuum Metallization
    • Silkscreen
    • Plating
    • Tumbled

Prototype Sheet Metal Parts Quote Times / /

Standard lead times are below, but 24hr expedite options are available.

Parts Delivery time
1-50 flat part pieces 2 days
50-1,000 flat part pieces 5-7 days
1-500 formed parts 6-8 days
1-5 drawn part pieces 10-15 days
4 slide tooled parts 4-6 weeks

Prototype Sheet Metal Parts Machines Used by Fathom / /

Fathom’s global network is powered by over 530 machines, including mills, lathes, presses, press brakes, turret punches and additive systems. Fathom’s has equipment dedicated to metal prototype fabrication, including lasers, waterjet machines, finishing tools, autodeburring, 4 slide machines, multi-slide machines, press brakes, 300-ton presses, 22-ton presses, wire EDM machines, seely slide forming tools and 35-ton blanking presses.

Fathom offers prototype sheet metal parts and hybridized services that leverage prototype fabrication. Are you ready to create a sheet metal prototype for your next complex project? Fathom can help. A recent case study is listed below where Fathom delivered 20,000 parts in 27 days using 55+ tools, including metal prototype fabrication services:

Case Study //

Real Customers. Real Results.

A customer came to Fathom with a complex project that spanned the technologies and processes of rapid production—and needed it done fast. Fathom delivered.

20,000 Parts // Within 27 Days
55+ Tools to Injection Mold 15,000 Parts First Article in 2 Weeks
15,000

55+ Tools to Injection
Mold 15,000 Parts

First Article in 2 Weeks

3,000+ 3D Printed Parts
3,000

3,000+ 3D
Printed Parts

2,000+ Metal Fabricated Parts
2,000

2,000+ Metal
Fabricated Parts

Hybridized Services Used //

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing—PolyJet, SLS, MJF.

DFM Analysis + CAD Mods.

CNC Machining. Laser Cutting.

Stamping. Die Cutting. Post-Opp Drilling.

24-hour Turnaround Urethane Casting.

Injection + Compression Molding.

Model Finishing. Insert Assembly.

Advanced Project Management.

Fathom’s Locations for Prototype Sheet Metal Parts / /

Fathom has 3 US-based locations that offer prototype sheet metal parts, providing nationwide coverage to the entire United States. Fathom’s advanced prototyping and manufacturing services include injection molding, CNC machining, wire EDM, chemical etching, metal 3D printing, and more. We have delivered over 200,000 quotes to leading US companies and are ready to quote you on your next job.

Locations include:

COLORADO
7770 Washington Street
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

NEW YORK
1920 Slaterville Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
ITAR

401 W. Shore Boulevard
Newark, NY 14513
ISO 9001:2015
AS910:2016
ITAR

Prototype Sheet Metal Parts Cutting Specifications and Tolerances / /

Sheet metal manufacturing can be used efficiently for low to high volume projects. Using Fathom’s sheet metal services, tolerances of up to 0.0005” are possible depending on the production method used. Geometry, complexity of design and raw materials selected also affect tolerance.

Material Thickness Tolerance Kerf Part Volume Set Up Cost Lead Time ** Notes
OMAX WATERJET Up to 6″ 0.005″- 0.015″ .020″/.040″ 1 to 5,000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, Kevlar, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc. Taper up to 59°
MICROCUT™ .0005″ – 0.5″ 0.0005″ - 0.005″ 0.009″, 0.011″,  0.0196″ 1 to 5,000 Low 6-8 days Metal, glass, plastic, stone, rubber, Kevlar, laminates, carbon fiber, ceramics, etc.
FIBER LASER AL: 0.250″ SS: 0.375″ CRS: 0.500″ COP: 0.250″ Brass: 0.125″ 0.002″ – 0.005″ .008″ 1 to High-Volume Low 6-8 days Metals - Fast
WIRE EDM 0.001″ – 6″ 0.0005″ 0.005″ 1-200 Is Best Low 6-8 days Conductive Metals, Carbon
* CHEM ETCH 0.005″ – 0.060″ Is +/- 10% of material thickness, .002″ min. Equal to metal thickness 1 - Infinity $350 Min. 6-8 days Metal Only. No Burrs. Beveled Edges. Half Etch and Holes.

*Inner radius should be 75% of material thickness. Outer Radius should be material thickness plus Inside bend radius.
**Dependent on geometry, volume and material: 24hr Expedite options available

Prototype Sheet Metal Parts Post Processing & Finishing / /

Fathom’s comprehensive manufacturing program allows our customers to produce everything in-house from prototype to post processing and finishing. Welding, hardware installation, painting and more can all be achieved. Additional services not offered by Fathom can be outsourced to one of our strategic partners to ensure your part will be made quickly while maintaining a high level of quality.

Welding

During welding heat and pressure are used to fuse two or more parts together. Welding services include arc welding, metal inert gas (MIG), tungsten inert gas (TIG), resistance spot welding, laser welding and oxyfuel welding and cutting.

Hardware Installation

Fathom’s complete sheet metal fabrication program includes hardware installation services. Whether a project a low or high volume of parts, Fathom can ensure great quality and efficiency.

Sanding/Grinding

Fathom’s services include sanding and grinding services. Grinding adds any desired cosmetic surface and can also remove weld. Sanding deburrs and removes scratches from parts after they have been punched or laser cut.

Liquid Painting

Liquid painting is suitable for projects where powder coating cannot be used. Liquid painting results in a professional finish, corrosion resistance, custom colors and more.

Powder Coating

During powder coating, the sheet metal part is covered with an even coating of powder and then cured. After curing, the workpiece has a professional finish that can be matte, smooth, textured and more. Fathom has a variety of different powder coating finishes to choose from.

Screen Printing

Screen printing can be used to add a variety of different finishes and colors to sheet metal parts. Fathom can also add a design of your choice to your custom part.

Assembly & Kitting

Assembly and kitting can be performed in-house by the Fathom team. Services include hardware installation, manual or automated processes and more. Fathom will ensure your finished part meets your exact specifications.

Outside Processing

Fathom’s services include access to strategic partnerships and with key suppliers of heat treating, plating and powder coating who meet our standards for both quality and speed. Fathom has a robust nationwide network of comprehensive additive and advanced manufacturing. Fathom Manufacturing’s extensive certifications include ISO 9001:2015, ISO 9001:2015 Design, ISO 13485:2016, AS9100:2016, NIST 800-171 and ITAR.

Post Machining

CNC machining is sometimes required to complete a part. Fathom has in-house CNC machining centers that can add post-mill features to sheet metal parts, allowing us to successfully manufacture parts within time constraints.

In-house Custom Tooling

Fathom’s engineers and master tool makers can deliver creative tooling solutions. Our team specializes in complex bending and precision and are not intimidated by challenging design features. Our services include intricate EDM tooling, waterjet cut tools and robust CNC machined tooling.

Deburring and Finishing

We know that attention to detail is critical to the manufacturing process. We can uniformly remove laser dross, mechanical burrs, harps or other surface imperfections using our in-house deburring and finishing operations. Finishing services include hand sanding, automated deburring, tumbling and more.

Prototype sheet metal parts FAQs / /

Q: Does Fathom offer metal prototype fabrication?

A: Yes, Fathom offers metal prototype fabrication.

Q: What is metal prototype fabrication?

A: Metal prototype manufacturing is creating a sample or “rough draft” part that can be used to test the form and function before mass production.

Q: Is Fathom ISO certified?

A: Fathom’s certifications include ISO 9001:2015, ISO 9001:2015 Design, and ISO 13485:2016.

Q: Is Fathom ITAR certified?

A: Yes, Fathom is ITAR certified.

Q: Is Fathom AS9100:2016 certified?

A: Yes, Fathom is AS9100:2016.

Q: Is Fathom NIST 800-171 certified?

A: Yes, Fathom’s certifications include NIST 800-171.

Q: What are sheet metal components?

A: Sheet metal components are parts made using a sheet metal manufacturing process.

Q: What are sheet metal services for?

A: Sheet metal services can be used to create parts or prototypes.

Q How are metal parts made?

A: Metal parts can be made using a manufacturing process such as CNC punching, wire EDM, laser cutting, forming and more.

Q: What is the thickness of sheet metal?

A: Sheet metal is as thin as 0.5mm and as thick as 6mm.

How to Get Metal Prototype Fabrication Quotes / /

Ready to get a quote on your metal prototype? Do you need to calculate costs on an upcoming project? Submit your file today on Fathom’s SmartQuote application for a fast quote.

Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
The Fathom Advanced Manufacturing Platform
new map update 3
HEADQUARTERS

1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016
ITAR

ARIZONA

444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015
NIST800-171 Compliant
ITAR

COLORADO

7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

MINNESOTA

13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304

TEXAS

1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015
AS9100:2016

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015
ISO 13485:2016

CALIFORNIA

620 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
NIST 800-171 Compliant
ITAR

FLORIDA

14000 N.W. 58th Court
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
ISO 13485:2016


 

NEW YORK

1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
ITAR

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
AS9100:2016
ISO 9001:2015
ITAR

ILLINOIS

1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051
ISO 9001:2015

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified