Sheet Metal Enclosure Design Tips

custom metal parts

It is impossible to overstate the value of enclosures in electronic equipment. A type of enclosure is required for electrical products, regardless of their size or complexity. The advantages of a sheet metal enclosure are numerous and include resilience to hostile industrial conditions, electrical conductivity, and pollution reductions.

Every sheet metal fabrication business wants to make sure that the user experience is good and that the design is successful overall. In the case of electronic components, this might be accomplished through the creation of superior enclosures. The design of sheet metal enclosure is governed by a few sets of rules. Gaining a thorough understanding of these rules will facilitate work and assist guarantee high-quality results.

To ensure that your work is up to par, the following sheet metal enclosure design guidelines go over the specifics of the enclosure design. Let’s go straight with it below.

Sheet Metal Enclosure

Understanding the Product Design Criteria

In every design endeavor, it is crucial to grasp both the aesthetic and functional prerequisites of the product. This principle holds true when crafting a sheet metal enclosure. Familiarizing yourself with these criteria ensures the development of a sheet metal enclosure that aligns seamlessly with your specifications.

Key product requirements that warrant consideration encompass:

  • The application of the sheet metal enclosure.
  • The designated working conditions for the enclosure, such as operating temperatures, susceptibility to corrosion, demands for vibration resistance, IP rating, and more.
  • Dimensional specifications.
  • Mounting prerequisites, encompassing wall-mounting, pole mounting, tabletop placement, etc.
  • The specific components slated for enclosure, such as component dimensions, connector positions, and other relevant details.
  • Aesthetic considerations.

Choosing the Material for Sheet Metal Enclosure Design

After comprehending the product requirements, the subsequent crucial step is selecting the appropriate metal for your sheet metal enclosure. The choice of metal primarily hinges on the intended application of the enclosure. It is imperative to avoid opting for a metal that may deteriorate rapidly when exposed to specific working conditions. Optimal metals exhibit superior quality while offering resistance to wear and corrosion.

Let’s delve into the distinctive properties of some of the best metals suitable for your enclosure design:


Known for its lightweight and corrosion-resistant attributes, aluminum is a favored choice. It possesses lower stiffness compared to steel under certain conditions. Two primary aluminum alloys used in sheet metal enclosure are 5052 Aluminum and 6061 Aluminum. The former excels in bending abilities without cracking, while the latter is more machinable but prone to cracking.

Note: Anodizing aluminum parts can enhance durability, and a chromate coating may be suitable for components requiring electrical contact.

Stainless Steel

Containing chromium and nickel, stainless steel offers heightened corrosion resistance and higher tensile strength than aluminum. It is ideal for sheet metal enclosure in high-impact applications, presenting a striking appearance with a grained finish.


A low-carbon steel coated with zinc and annealed, Galvanneal ensures zinc bonding through diffusion into the substrate. This prevents flaking during forming or bending. Suitable for wet conditions, it also provides corrosion resistance based on its coating.

CRCA (Rolled Close Annealed Steel)

An excellent choice for indoor enclosures and parts, CRCA combines stiffness and strength. However, it lacks inherent corrosion resistance and may rust if left uncoated.


While less common in sheet metal enclosure design, copper boasts excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, making it suitable for electrical applications. Its soft nature limits its use in enclosures but renders it ideal for bus bars or miscellaneous parts.

When deciding on the metal for your design, consider the following key properties:

  • Tensile strength
  • Weldability and machinability
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Wear resistance
  • Electronics enclosure weight constraints
  • Assembly process
  • Thermal and electrical conductivity
  • Cost

Evaluating these criteria ensures a well-informed decision in selecting the optimal metal for your sheet metal enclosure design.

Selecting the Appropriate Enclosure Shape

Opting for the right shape of the enclosure stands as a pivotal tip in sheet metal enclosure design. Deliberations regarding enclosure shape should commence at the PCB and system design level to circumvent common pitfalls associated with enclosure design. While sheet metal might have some limitations compared to plastic enclosure molding, you can still devise functional, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing enclosures by considering the following shapes:

Folded Box Shape

This configuration presents a classic four-sided box shape with an accompanying lid. The design ensures easy service access and provides a broader range of mounting options.


An uncomplicated enclosure shape that is easy to manufacture, F-shape enclosures prove suitable for PCBs with connectors on opposite sides.


The L-shape enclosure is straightforward in design, with a geometry that is easily comprehensible. It also facilitates easy access during use.


Similar to the F-shape, U-shape enclosures are easily producible. Often featuring solid bases, they provide convenient service access.

By contemplating these enclosure shapes at the PCB and system design stages, you can navigate the challenges associated with sheet metal enclosure design, ensuring the creation of enclosures that are not only functional and cost-effective but also visually appealing.

Grasp Sheet Metal Thickness Considerations

The thickness of the metal selected for enclosure design plays a pivotal role, influencing factors such as strength, weight, flange length, and punch size. Choosing the appropriate thickness is crucial, as it affects the feasibility of crafting smaller products and provides added strength for larger parts. Achieving a balance in material thickness is essential for optimal design outcomes.

While various thickness gauges may appear similar on paper, a nuanced understanding of sheet metal gauges is essential for informed decision-making. Maintaining uniform wall thickness throughout your sheet metal enclosure design is imperative to ensure the overall quality of the component. Smaller products may pose challenges with thicker metals, emphasizing the need for careful consideration.

sheet metal gauges - Sheet Metal Thickness

Ensure Consistent Bend Radius

Consistency in bend radius is a mandatory aspect of sheet metal enclosure design. Bend radii should always align with the thickness of the material, with a total that corresponds to the content’s thickness. This practice prevents issues such as fractures and substance circulation in the design.

Maintaining a flange length at a minimum of three to four times the material thickness is advisable. It’s important to note that certain metals exhibit resistance to bending, necessitating a thorough understanding of their chemical composition and surface condition to assess flexibility accurately.

Before determining bend radii, it is crucial to consider the functional and aesthetic requirements of the enclosure. Utilizing CAD software facilitates the digital calculation of bend allowances, providing a precise approach to ensure the optimal design integrity of your sheet metal enclosure.

Consider Finishing Operations

There are several sheet metal finishing solutions to choose from. While some designers prefer a finishing technique over others, each of them has its unique features. We will discuss some of these options below.

Powder Coating

This type of coating involves the application of dry thermoplastic powder electrostatically on the metal surface. The powder coating finish is cost-effective and durable, with various colors and textures available. Furthermore, it is suitable for various metals, so there’s no headache with choosing a finish. Note that a powder coat will add an extra layer to your component. Thus, the dimensions would refer to only the underlying metal.


This is another electrochemical process that prepares surfaces of non-ferrous metals. It is a suitable finish for aluminum, making the surface harder and impacting high-level corrosion resistance. The anodized finish will become part of the metal, never flaking off or peeling under everyday use.

Chromate Conversion Coating

This type of finishing helps to passivate metals via an immersion bath process. Chromate coating aims to prevent corrosion and impact an aesthetically pleasing finish. Chrome plating also helps to retain the electrical conductivity of materials. Your enclosure sheet metal will benefit from this simplified finishing process.

Digital Printing and Silkscreening

These finishing techniques will help your enclosure design the professional feel and look it deserves. The major use of these methods is to help you label your enclosures clearly. Thus, you can easily identify ports, switches, connectors, etc. Digital printing is excellent for graphics to include artworks and company logos. You can apply them on flat parts and assembled enclosures.

Nickel Plating

This plating technique involves adding a thin layer of nickel to your metal surface. It offers a perfect mix of corrosion and wears resistance. It also gives your component additional utility, brightness, and appeal. If you desire good adhesion properties for other coats, you can use nickel plating for your undercoats.


The painting finish involves the spraying of thin layers of paint onto the surface of your metal. It generally improves the aesthetic appearance of your sheet metal enclosure. Furthermore, it can help provide increased brand recognition to customers.

Create Prototypes and Conduct Validation Testing

After implementing the recommended sheet metal enclosure design tips, you’ll have a functional concept. The subsequent phase involves refining the design to meet specific specifications and enhance manufacturability.

The most effective approach is to develop prototypes. Specialized sections for new product development in sheet metal fabrication companies, such as Sungplastic, allow you to test your design in an authentic production environment. It’s important to note that your prototype might not precisely align with your customers’ preferences.

This is where validation testing becomes paramount. This step enables you to determine whether to proceed with large-scale manufacturing or revisit the design process. Validation testing might include product installation at various points of use or basic environmental tests, potentially revealing areas that require adjustments.

Manufacturing Sheet Metal Enclosure at Sungplastic

Sheet metal enclosure offers numerous manufacturing benefits, including enhanced electrical conductivity, emission reductions, and resistance to harsh industrial environments. Simultaneously, it contributes to reduced turnaround times and manufacturing costs. Consequently, accurate design is crucial, and the provided sheet metal enclosure design tips serve as valuable guidance for informed decision-making.

Having experienced and expert assistance throughout the process is invaluable. Our team provides numerous benefits in sheet metal processing, with qualified technicians specializing in enclosure design. Additionally, you’ll benefit from automated and streamlined production services.

Furthermore, our robust manufacturing capabilities, commitment to quality assurance, and technical expertise ensure optimal results. Reach out to us for instant quotes on your custom machined parts and experience the advantages of our solid and reliable services.


How is a sheet metal enclosure designed?
Learning about the practical and aesthetic needs of the product is the first stage. After that, you can select the material based on how well it meets your manufacturing requirements. It’s important to know the enclosure’s shape and the thickness of the sheet metal. After obtaining all of that, you can choose the component’s best options for welding and finishing. To make sure you’re headed in the correct direction, though, you must create prototypes and carry out validation testing.

How is the thickness of sheet metal determined?
Keep in mind that the gauge and the metal’s thickness are inversely related. For a higher gauge, you will thus have a thinner metal. The majority of producers employ thinner steel, such as 8 gauge. You can’t refer to it as sheet metal any longer if it gets thicker.

What elements will influence the sheet metal material selection?
You may choose the best sheet metal material for your enclosure design by taking into account the following factors.

  • Tensile strength and weight
  • Machinability and welding
  • Electrical and thermal conductivity
  • Resistance to corrosion
  • Method of assembly
  • Price

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