What is Aluminum Box Fabrication?
Aluminum box fabrication is the process of changing aluminum sheet metal into finished boxes of your desire. A variety of processes have to be done to configure aluminum into the boxes of your taste. The processes include; designing the desired box, cutting, bending, joining parts, and finishing.
The following are steps of custom aluminum box fabrication:
Step 1: Design Custom Aluminium Box
To come up with a custom aluminum box of your choice:
Have a drawing or a template of the kind of box you desire. You can use cardboard or paper to make an expanded template of the box you have in mind. This flat version of your box can then be traced on the aluminum sheet. On the other hand, you can seek the services of professional engineers. They will help you come up with project design concepts and ideas.
You will be required to give specifications so that the designer comes up with the exact part or component required. A custom aluminum box can be designed by drafting manually the model. You can also use computer-aided designs (CAD).
This is software that helps you to draft a high-quality design. It also protects your product and invention when you use them in patent applications. This stage is very important because;
- It will help you identify potential problems with the product concept and you can adjust before the aluminium metal is used.
- You will be able to decide on the procedure used in making the exact final product, as correcting is very expensive.
- Ensures that you come up with a product that meets the set regulations.
Make sure the mode of your box design has the following specifications for purposes of accuracy;
- Hole size, location, and depth if any.
- The thickness of the material to be used
- The flatness of the surface
- Overall length, height, and width of the custom aluminum box.
- The radius of all the corners.
Countercheck the measurements and dimensions before moving to fabrication.
Step 2: Choose Suitable Material Grades For Box Fabrication.
Material selection is one of the most important aspects before beginning a project on custom aluminum box fabrication. The grades of aluminum are determined by Aluminium Association.
This is done through the alloying process. It is prudent to choose the right aluminum grade for the kind of custom boxes you want. This is influenced by;
- Purpose of the custom aluminum box.
- level of heat resistance
- The type of fabrication to be used.
Grade 6061 is also known as workhorse aluminum. The main alloying ingredients are manganese and silicon. It has more resistance than the 3000 series. Besides, it has high heat welding properties. It is the best option in environments where the environment is humid. More corrosive resistant than another grade, good for making box sections.
Grade 3000 series – it’s an alloy of aluminum and manganese. It is most commonly used in most applications. Additionally, it cannot handle high temperatures and readily wieldable.
Grade 1000 series – it’s the purest form of Aluminium. Mostly, you can use it for high temperatures applications. This is because it has good workability and is malleable, besides better corrosion-resistant.
Additionally, it is excellent for challenging forming operations. It is commonly used by fabricators who will bend and form the aluminum sheet into desired shapes. In most cases, you can use it for food packaging and chemical storage.
The above grades of aluminum are used for making custom boxes because of their bendability.
Step 3: Cut Material For Aluminum Box Fabrication.
Cutting removes your custom aluminum box design from the aluminum sheet. You can use hand tools and power tools /machines to cut your custom aluminum box.
Some of the most common fabrication techniques include:
Shear Cutting Aluminum Sheet
Shear cutting is used for non-industrial applications. The shear cuts like a pair of scissors. It cuts in a straight line on a flat sheet of aluminum stock. Here, the design you traced on the sheet of aluminum will guide you on how to cut your custom aluminum box. Also, you can use blanking and punching where a machine punches designs out of a sheet of aluminum.
Non-shear Cutting Aluminum Sheet
Non-sheer cutting is done using industrial applications. This is done using machines such as lasers, water jets, and punch press. Additionally, machines cut fast, and easily and produce accurate finishes.
Saw Cutting Aluminum Sheet
A saw can be used to cut the traced design on the aluminum sheet. Here, you can apply lubrication to the saw blade to avoid sparks and spillages.
Depending on your requirements, you can use a circular blade use one that has a smaller diameter for better results. Remember, to use a clamp to secure the aluminum sheet in place. This helps to avoid movement of the sheet during cutting.
You can push the metal through the blade slowly and hold the saw firmly. At the same time, apply pressure on the saw as you move the blade. Remember to keep your fingers away from the saw blade. Also, keep the power off when making adjustments to the blade.
Note: There are many ways of cutting material for your custom aluminum box fabrication. You can also learn more on Cutting Aluminum.
Step 4: Deform And Bend Aluminium Box Fabrication
The process of bending aluminum is easy if you understand the characteristics of the metal. Aluminum is light and soft and thus bends easily without the risk of breaking. The best aluminum series for bending are 1, 3, and 5. Series 6 can crack if you bend it too tight.
The ability to bend is dictated by;
- Formability of the aluminum alloy.
- The thickness and bend radius.
- The percentage of elongation required.
The bending technique most commonly used is v bending. V- Bending has 2 subgroups; air bending and bottom bending.
If your aluminum metal part has intersecting bend radii, create room for the material in the flanges. Here is a quick overview on how to go about this.
- Drill relief holes at the inner bend tangent lines: Relief holes prevent the cracking of the metal by reducing stress on the metal. They also provide a smooth and neatly trimmed corner.
- Use a pan brake to bend the box: It can be permanently bent into a new shape using lower force compared to other metals.
- Start by bending the opposite sides first.
- Adjust the finger of the pan brake: This will enable the bent sides to ride up in the cracks between the fingers when the leaf is raised to bend the other two sides. You can do adjustments by hand at the installation site.
You can also learn more about bending aluminum.
Step 5: Join Or Assemble Custom Aluminum Box Fabrication Parts
After bending your box you need some form of fastening to hold the sides together.
Joining can be done using:
Both machine welding and manual welding can be used to join metal parts. The design of the metal parts you are joining will greatly influence the performance of the joint. The methods of welding include; MIG, TIG, and robotic welding.
To weld manually;
Place the box between electrodes where you intend to weld. Press down your foot pedal.
Hold the foot pedal until the welder finishes a cycle. Repeat this until you have fastened the whole box. While welding ensure you put on personal protective equipment (PPE)
Mechanical Joining Techniques
This includes the use of bolts, nuts, hinges, rivets, and screws
To use riveting;
Before riveting match drill relief holes and hold the 2 pieces with fasteners. Do this for the whole box and then replace the fasteners using rivets in the holes. After joining the whole box attach the lid using hinges. Again, you should double-check if the hinges work, if they don’t redo the work. Additionally, ensure the hinges are fixed on the inside using lock pliers and that they are straight about the edge.
Aluminum parts are the most commonly joined using adhesive. The adhesive used in joining parts must be able to wet the whole surface to be joined.
Normally, the grade of aluminum will affect the bond, strength, and adhesive selection. A good example is cyanoacrylate, which bonds aluminum well.
To join aluminum parts using adhesives;
- Degrease the surface of the aluminum box part by removing all grease that may hinder bonding.
- Subject the metal part to abrasion using sandpaper.
This increases the area that the adhesive will be exposed to.
- Carefully apply the adhesive to the surfaces to be joined.
- Cure if need be
Step 6: Add accessories to the custom Aluminium box.
You can add accessories to your aluminum box for the custom aluminum box to be usable. Remember, accessories also improve the appearance of the box.
Some of the accessories include alarms, remote central locking, and a dual battery setup.
You can have shelves put in your box to store smaller items or tools.
Step 7: Apply Appropriate Finish On Custom Fabricated Aluminum Box
Applying the right finish enables your custom aluminum box to end up with the right appearance and corrosive resistance. Some of the finishes you can apply on the custom fabricated aluminum box are;
This is an electrochemical process that provides extra protection apart from the natural oxide film. The surface of the custom aluminum box is covered by a porous and durable anodic oxide.
Powder coating forms a layer that meets excellent performance criteria. The advantage of this method is that powder coats lack volatile organic compounds (VOC).
They meet environmental regulations. When the powder coating goes through the oven, the particles fuse to form a film.
Step 8: Ensure The Custom Aluminum Box Meets Quality Standards (If Any)
You custom aluminium box must meet the set standards for custom aluminium box fabrication. These include;
Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSHA)
This is a quality control measure that ensures the safety of workers operating fabricating machines. Workers are expected to put on personal protective equipment when operating machines.
Welding standards are dictated by Welding Bureau (WB) such as CWB and AWB. Your company must be certified by the welding bureau. The bureau ensures welding is done by qualified and competent welders.
The welding procedures used must be proved and acceptable. In addition to these, other requirements include:
- Quality standards are met by fabricating custom aluminium boxes that are of the recommended size and dimensions. The bureau of standards ensures this.
- Your custom aluminium boxes should have guidelines on maintenance and disposal that are environmental friendly.
- Federation Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dictates the information required for box labelling.
- For fabricated aluminum boxes you will use in electrical industry, they must comply with NEMA, CE, UL and IP requirements.
People Also Ask:
Well, it will depending on the design of custom aluminum box. You can choose a custom aluminum box with a range of accessories such as hinged lid, locking mechanism, vents, etc.
The time frame varies depending on the design, size and number of custom aluminum boxes you need.