Sheet metal design software

The benefits of using Autodesk Fusion 360 for sheet metal design

Autodesk Fusion 360 streamlines sheet metal fabrication and design, allowing you to design, test, document and fabricate in a single integrated tool.

CNC laser cutting machines are used in sheet metal design

What is sheet metal design?

Sheet metal design is the process of engineering sheet metal into equipment, parts, assemblies and products. Autodesk Fusion 360 provides the necessary software to automate sheet metal design (US Site), nest your components and create tool paths for CNC.

Sheet metal design software is calibrated for the design, engineering and manufacturing of sheet metal components and products. It provides tools and features that aid in the creation, modification and optimisation of sheet metal parts, as well as the generation of manufacturing instructions and documentation.

What are some sheet metal design tools?

Sheet metal flanges

Flanges

A flange is a common sheet metal feature, which consists of a bend connected to stationary face, along a straight edge.

 

Sheet metal bend calculations

Bend calculations

Bend calculations make sure that the correct length is calculated when a sheet metal design is manufactured flat and then bent into its finished state based on a K-Factor.

 

Sheet metal gauge tables

Gauge tables

Gauge tables define the thickness of sheet metal. There are several gauge tables depending on the material of the sheet metal, which specify the thickness for both inches and millimetres.

 

Why do I need sheet metal design software?

Sheet metal design software like Autodesk Fusion 360 includes a combination of 2D and 3D design capabilities. This allows engineers and designers to create precise models of sheet metal components. Users can define parameters such as material thickness, bend allowances, hole sizes and other geometric features relevant to sheet metal fabrication.

Streamline your entire sheet metal design-through-fabrication workflow with one software package. Autodesk Fusion 360 allows you to connect 2D and 3D workflows so you can create, modify and document sheet metal designs. This makes it easy to quickly get a flat pattern into production.

Why choose Autodesk Fusion 360 for sheet metal design?

Comprehensive sheet metal design features

Autodesk Fusion 360 offers a range of specialised tools tailored for sheet metal design. These tools include bend and unfold commands, sheet metal-specific parameters, corner reliefs, flange creation and more. These features streamline the design process and enable designers to create accurate sheet metal components.

 

 

Cloud-based collaboration

With cloud collaboration (US Site) tools, multiple users to collaborate on the same design in real time. Cloud-based software (US Site) is especially useful for product design teams, where parts of the products are often designed and manufactured by different team members across various locations.

Integrated CAD/CAM

Autodesk Fusion 360 combines both computer-aided design (CAD) (US Site) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) functionalities in a single platform. This integration allows designers to seamlessly transition from creating 3D sheet metal models to generating toolpaths for manufacturing processes.

Flexible parametric model tools

Flexible parametric modelling (US Site) techniques allow designers to create flexible and adaptive sheet metal designs. With parametric modelling, changes made to the design propagate throughout the model, automatically updating features and maintaining design intent. This feature is useful in sheet metal design, where modifications and iterations are common.

 

Easy to use simulation capabilities

Streamline the deformation-based sheet metal forming process with the sheet metal tools in Fusion 360. The software simplifies simulating sheet metal forming with an easy setup of loading conditions, contact conditions, fixes, displacement boundary conditions and nonlinear material properties.

 

Manufacturing support

Autodesk Fusion 360 supports a wide range of manufacturing processes commonly used in sheet metal fabrication, including laser cutting, punching, bending, welding and more. Computer-aided manufacturing (US Site) generates toolpaths for these manufacturing processes, making it easier to translate designs into physical parts.

Cloud-based 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software for product design.


Unlock additional capabilities for 3 to 5-axis CNC machining, sheet-based nesting and fabrication and metals-based additive manufacturing.


Autodesk Fusion 360 sheet metal tutorials

Fusion 360 Industries Automotive Product Design & Manufacturing Process Manufacturing Aerospace Topics Detailer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Industrial Designer Drafter Product Design 3D Modelling Fabrication Design Manufacturing Processes Computer-aided Manufacturing Drafting Simulation & Analysis Robots Instrumentation Consumer Electronics

Create, modify and apply sheet metal rules

Learn to create, modify and apply sheet metal rules. Learn how to use the flange tool and how to create a cutout across multiple faces. Learn how to build a flat pattern and use it in a drawing in Fusion 360.

 


A sheet metal part starts out as a flat piece of metal with a consistent thickness. For manufacturing purposes, details like bend radii and relief sizes are usually the same throughout the part. You enter the values for these details, and then the software applies them as you design. For example, when you create a flange the bend is added automatically.

Getting started with sheet metal design

Learn the basics of sheet metal design in Fusion 360 in the Autodesk Product Documentation portal. We cover sheet metal components, rules, flanges, bends, unfolding sheet metal bodies and flat patterns.

 


Learn the features and workflows needed for brake press sheet metal design. Create material-specific rules in a library to be referenced and shared. Discover the selection-based flange tool to create base, contour, edge, and join flanges. Cut across bends by unfolding and folding your bent bodies. After attending this class, you will have the knowledge needed to be effective in sheet metal design.

Design a sheet metal model

Learn how to design a sheet metal model using Fusion 360. See how to parametrically edit sheet metal models and how to set up a library for sheet metal rules. Also, learn about downstream manufacturing workflows for sheet metal models.

 


Autodesk Fusion 360 nesting

Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting and Fabrication Extension

The Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting and Fabrication Extension (US Site) provides several benefits for users involved in sheet metal fabrication and manufacturing processes. Some key advantages include material optimisation, time savings, improved production efficiency, cost reduction, design-to-manufacturing integration and compatibility with various fabrication processes.

“With Fusion 360, all the elements are in one model. It’s all going to work because it’s all in one place. That’s where we struggled previously. Moving over to Fusion 360 helped us a lot.”

-Michael Mitris, Co-Founder and Director, Concrete Collective

What are manufacturing methods for sheet metal designs?

Water jet sheet metal design

Water jet

Pressurised water mixed with abrasives can cut through stainless steel, Inconel, titanium, aluminium, tool steel, ceramics, granite and armour plate, with a clean edge finish. Learn more about waterjet cutter (US site).

Laser sheet metal design

Laser

A gas laser, such as a CO2, is transmitted through a beam, guided by mirrors, and directed at the material at an extremely high level of precision.

 

Plasma sheet metal design

Plasma

The plasma process uses electrically conductive gas to transfer energy from a torch to the material being cut. Developed for metals that could not be flame cut, such as stainless steel, aluminium and copper.

 

 

Sheet metal design software resources

Sheet metal design software is the most critical component of sheet metal fabrication. Learn how designers can use the Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension to streamline their process.

 

Learn the basic concepts of sheet metal fabrication, including an overview of measurement units, manipulation techniques and metal types.

 

Sheet metal is widely used due to its formability, ductility and tensile nature. Manufacturers thus have a central goal: manipulating malleable metals accordingly while preserving structural integrity. Learn the different sheet metal forming processes and their relevance within specific industries.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create sheet metal components?

There are a few ways to create sheet metal components in Autodesk Fusion 360. You can create a new sheet metal component using the sheet metal rule. The rule uses your settings for material thickness, bend radius and corner relief. You can also create a sheet metal component from scratch. You use sketch commands to create a profile for a base face or an initial contour flange. Then you exit the sketch and create your sheet metal face and flanges. Default rule is used but you can change or edit used rule.

How can sheet metal design software help streamline high-volume production?

Autodesk Fusion 360 includes direct editing and advanced surface modelling features designed to dramatically reduce the time typically necessary for high-volume design production. Validate 3D digital models as you design without needing a prototype. Stress-test and optimise in one integrated design environment. Plus, built-in sheet metal specific commands streamline work on both folded and unfolded models.

What types of simulation are supported in Autodesk Fusion 360 that enables the testing of sheet metal forming?

Autodesk Fusion 360 streamlines the deformation-based sheet metal forming process. The software simplifies simulating sheet metal forming with easy setup of loading conditions, contact conditions, fixes and displacement boundary conditions, and non-linear material properties.

Is there any third-party support included in Autodesk Fusion 360?

Files from other CAD systems can be imported (US Site) for use in Autodesk Fusion 360 and exported to other CAD system formats.

What techniques are available for bend allowance?

Autodesk Fusion 360 simplifies calculating bend allowance and offers the flexibility to see bending results specific to the data you have. While the default K-Factor of 0.44 is automatically built into the software, you can access the integrated editor in Inventor to create and edit bend tables.

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Get started with sheet metal design with Fusion 360