Blog / #hardware

Selecting the right sheet metal panel for your industrial machine

Custom sheet metal panels are now automatically generated and ready to order within the MachineBuilder 3D CAD system

Jennifer Sewell Marketing Director / Feb 19th, 2020
Vention Sheet Metal

Panel selection is an important step in designing an industrial machine. With so many variables to consider, it should not be treated as an afterthought. Vention supports diverse applications by offering a range of panel materials: HDPE, acrylic, phenolic C, and polycarbonate. And now, Vention has added stainless steel and aluminum sheet metal panels to its library of 600+ modular parts. Find out which panel material is most appropriate for your application.

This post covers how to decide between stainless steel and aluminum, and how to insert sheet metal panels into your design.

When to use aluminum vs. stainless steel

Aluminum and stainless steel are two popular materials for industrial machines. But although they look similar, they’re actually quite different. Each material has a distinct set of characteristics that make it right (or wrong) for the job. The table below highlights the key differences between aluminum and stainless steel.

Aluminum Stainless Steel
Type 5052-H32 and 3003-H22 (diamond plate) 304 (the most versatile and widely used stainless steel)
Available Thickness Sheet: From 12 to 16 gauge. Plate: From ⅛″ to ⅜″. Sheet: From 11 to 16 gauge.
Surface Finish Mill finish, brushed, or checkered Brushed (#4)
Density 2,680 kg/m³ 8,000 kg/m³
Corrosion Resistance Excellent Excellent in many environments
Tensile strength 228 MPa 520 MPa.

Inserting sheet metal panels in your next design

Emerging technologies, like Vention’s web-based CAD system, are quickening the pace at which new equipment is designed and built. Using MachineBuilder, Vention’s browser-based CAD system,you can quickly design and order cut-to-size sheet metal panels.

1. Select and insert your panel

Vention creating a panel

Select the extrusion perimeter to cover with a panel, or simply drag and drop the panel material to the desired area. Right-click to insert your panel, and customize its material, color, thickness, and position. Read the post choosing panel materials to determine which material is most appropriate for your application.

2. Generate panel with appropriate cutouts

Vention creating panel holes

Panels are automatically generated and priced in real-time, with surrounding geometries taken into account.

3. Add fastening points

Vention create panel countersink

Add countersinks and/or through holes to the location you would like to have fastening points. The associated fasteners will be auto-generated based on the number of countersinks and/or through holes you have added.

How Vention manufacturers sheet metal panels

Sheet metal is one of the most versatile materials, suitable for projects as small as doors and drawers and as large as 40-foot safety enclosures.

Once you’ve placed your order, your panel specifications will be sent to our panel partners automatically. (You can check which panels you’ve ordered at any time in your online bill of materials.) All panels come with rounded corners with a radius of 2.4mm, which eliminates the risks associated with sharp edges. Custom panels will add an average of two days to your order lead time.

Ready to include sheet metal panels in your next industrial machine? Visit the parts library today!

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