Archive: Oct 2021

How to Design a Custom Sheet Metal Cabinet

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How to Design a Custom Sheet Metal Cabinet

At H&S Manufacturing, we’ve provided high-quality custom assemblies to customers across a wide range of industries for over 50 years. One of our areas of specialization is electromechanical assemblies. We can fabricate individual components or produce complete custom box builds

Many of our electromechanical assembly projects require the construction of a custom sheet metal cabinet or enclosure. Below, we highlight the steps we take when designing one to ensure it fully meets the specifications and standards of the customer.  

1. Select the Right Metal Type and Sheet Metal Thickness

The first step in designing a custom sheet metal cabinet or enclosure is choosing the type and thickness of sheet metal that will be used for its construction. There are numerous materials options available, each of which exhibits unique characteristics that make it suitable for particular applications. For example: 

  • Aluminum. This material is lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making it perfect for various cabinets and enclosures. It can also be finished in many ways (e.g., bare surface, grained finished, powder-coated, anodized, etc.) to suit different functional and aesthetic requirements.  
  • Copper. This material is soft, flexible, and ductile. It also offers excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, which makes it ideal for certain electrical and electronic applications. 
  • Stainless steel. This material offers high strength, stiffness, and corrosion resistance. Similar to aluminum, it accommodates a variety of finishing options. 
  • Cold rolled steel. This material combines high stiffness, long-term durability in indoor environments, and low cost, making it a suitable general-purpose enclosure material. 
  • Galvanneal. This material has a unique coating that makes it a better alternative to cold-rolled steel for wet environments. 

Once we’ve selected the type of sheet metal we want to use, we need to choose the appropriate thickness (i.e., gauge) for the cabinet/enclosure. See the table below for information on the imperial measurements to which each gauge corresponds for each metal.

Gauge # Carbon Steel Stainless Steel Galvanneal 5052 Aluminum  6061 Aluminum
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.500″
n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.375″
n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.250″ 0.250″
n/a n/a n/a n/a 0.188″ n/a
8 n/a n/a n/a 0.1285″ n/a
11 0.120″ 0.125″ n/a 0.091″ 0.1285″
12 0.120″ n/a n/a 0.081″ n/a
13 0.090″ n/a n/a n/a n/a
14 0.075″ 0.078″ 0.078″ 0.064″ n/a
16 0.060″ 0.063″ 0.063″ 0.051″ n/a
18 0.048″ 0.050″ n/a 0.040″ n/a
20 0.036″ 0.037″ 0.040″ 0.032″ n/a
22 0.030″ 0.031″ 0.034″ n/a n/a
24 0.024″ 0.025″ 0.028″ n/a n/a
26 n/a 0.019″ n/a n/a n/a


2. Identify the Correct Bending Method and Bend Radius

Generally, sheet metal cabinets and enclosures are made by bending the sheet metal with a folder or press brake. A folder is used to form highly accurate bends quickly, while a press brake is used to create relatively sharp bends that are not possible for a folder.

Since sheet metal typically cannot be bent into a true 90-degree angle, the corners of bent/folded sheet metal usually have a curve. Different tooling and bending parameters result in different degrees of curvature. We pick them depending on the bend radius (i.e., the radius of the inside surface of the bend) needed for the cabinet/enclosure.

3. Choose an Appropriate Welding Method

After the individual pieces of sheet metal have been bent/folded, they are typically welded together. The advantages of welding a cabinet or enclosure include stronger and more watertight joints and simple and cheaper assembly operations. 

There are a variety of welding methods available, including: 

  • Spot welding. This welding method is efficient and affordable for permanently joining two pieces of sheet metal in one or more locations.
  • Seam welding. This welding method is suitable for joining two or more pieces of sheet metal along a continuous edge. 
  • Tack welding. This welding method is ideal for discretely joining two or more sheet metal pieces along a continuous segment. 

Get Started on Your Custom Sheet Metal Cabinet Solution Today

Designing a custom sheet metal cabinet is a delicate process. If one element is wrong, the final component may not work or look as intended. Partnering with an expert manufacturer of sheet metal cabinets, such as H&S Manufacturing Company, can help you avoid costly design mistakes. 

At H&S Manufacturing, we have the experience, expertise, and equipment needed to design and manufacture a sheet metal cabinet that meets your exact needs. To learn more about our capabilities, contact us today. To discuss your specs and standards with one of our team members, request a quote.