Re: RP of Thin Sheet Metal Parts

From: Jim Paravantes (
Date: Thu Mar 19 1998 - 18:28:02 EET


The prototyping of thin metal parts is best achieved using a laser cutter to
cut the blanks. The forming of the blanks, depending on the geometry and
the amount required can be accomplished with a small press brake. NC
punching can achieve the same result, but some special punches would be
required. I have done parts like the ones you described, and we used the
laser cutter and press brake method.


Jim Paravantes

Trident Systems Group, Inc. 45737 Henley Dr. Canton, MI. 48187
Voice: 313-844-9033
Fax: 313-844-2652


-----Original Message-----
From: Ferrill, Jess B <>
To: '' <>
Date: Thursday, March 19, 1998 9:58 AM
Subject: RP of Thin Sheet Metal Parts

>In the electrical connector business we frequently need to make rapid
>prototypes of small thin metal parts (typically 0.005 to 0.015 inch or
>0.13 to 0.38 mm. thick) to tolerances in the range of +/-.005 inch (0.1
>mm) or better. The parts might have rectangular or round openings,
>interrupted slots, tabs, etc. The narrowest cut slots or holes would be
>about 0.015 to 0.020 inch (0.40 mm) wide. (The finished or profiled flat
>part might be thought of as similar to a single paper doll cutout).
>The profiled parts may then be formed by folding into the final shapes.
>For our quick prototypes we currently use wire and plunge EDM or
>photoetching followed by hand forming using prototype forming dies in a
>small press. Materials might be copper alloys or stainless steel. Sheet
>raw material sizes could be several inches per side on up to feet, but
>individual parts are normally less than three or four inches in the
>longest dimension. Typical prototype runs might be several hundred
>individual parts. Capital costs of the equipment are less a concern
>than time required to produce several hundred parts. Our ideal system
>would also be capable of
>producing thousands of parts until a production stamping dieset could be
>I wonder if anyone has any fresh ideas. The ideal method would be
>controlled from a solid CAD model or similar quickly generated CAD
>layout (Pro/E with sheet metal module available).
>The ability to cut stacked multiple sheets might offer a speed advantage
>I am exploring the following methods to cut the profile shapes in flat
>1) Laser cutting: (suitable for thin metals?, clean edges?, shiny
>surfaces a problem?)
>2) CNC punching or nibbling: (small precision parts, need for lots of
>special punches? speed?)
>3) Abrasive water jet: (capable of narrow slots?)
>4) Plasma jet: (clean smooth edges?, capable of narrow slots?)
>Any other ideas or comments on the above would be appreciated!
>Thank you,
>Britt Ferrill
>AMP, Inc.
>(336) 727-5387
>For more information about the rp-ml, see

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