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How to program a CNC punch press to produce sheet metal work

Updated on January 24, 2012

3D image of a sheet metal side panel

3D and 2D images may be used to help you visualize your own designs for sheet metal manufacturing suitability or to relay your design ideas to your customers. Where you only have a sheet metal sample we can produce fully dimensioned 2D drawings to work to in our manufacturing plant, inspection and for your future design reference. These detailed dimensioned drawings can be output in AutoCAD® compatible file formats such as DWG and DXF. We can also import your 3D data from AutoDesk® Inventor and Solidworks® software (STEP and SAT formats) to speed up CNC punching program generation and reduce the chances of translation errors. Exact 2 dimensional sheet metal flat pattern developments can be automatically and accurately produced by unfolding the 3 dimensional sheet metal model ready for the selection of the best CNC punch press tooling and the most efficient program nesting for a given sheet size. The sheets used are normally 2000mm x 1000mm or 2500mm x 1250mm in size. Other special sheet sizes can be sourced to reduce material wastage and of course smaller parts of sheets are used for smaller batch sizes or physically smaller parts making the process of CNC programming very flexible for batch manufacturing.

3D sheet metal software model
3D sheet metal software model

3D models created in Radan software

sheet metal work assemblies

3 dimensional software models of complex sheet metal fabrications and full working assemblies may be created to help eliminate design errors before any sheet metal work is undertaken. The model can include details about the component sizes, material thickness, material type as well the the relation of each part to its neighbour. By using 3D models we can check the correct fit of sheet metal components by ensuring inserts will be in line with screw holes, pop rivets will fit through the holes in fixing plates, covers have sufficient clearance over boxes, front panels align with electronics chassis on rack mounted equipment etc. The 3D model also enables us to provide our shop floor production staff with additional views complex parts to aid communication through the manufacturing process.

Sheet metal components CNC programmed in Radan software - CNC punch press programs with CNC tooling

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Stainless steel ventilation hood with inspection hatch CNC programmed in Radan software.Mild steel sheet metal chassis tooled ready form CNC programming.Heating and ventilation housing showing circular cut outs with CNC nibbling tools.Stainless steel bracket tooled ready to be CNC punched using a Trumpf 3000R CNC punch press.Ventilation cover for an airconditioning unit CNC punched from galvanised mild steel.Fan chassis plate with large circular cut out.Electronics back plane connector panel CNC programmed with tooling ready for punching on a Trumpf 200 CNC punch press.LED heat sink plate programmed to use multi-tool tooling.Sheet metal chassis plate for a down light fitting.Simple aluminium bracket programmed from a 3D SAT supplied direct from Radan spoftware.
Stainless steel ventilation hood with inspection hatch CNC programmed in Radan software.
Stainless steel ventilation hood with inspection hatch CNC programmed in Radan software.
Mild steel sheet metal chassis tooled ready form CNC programming.
Mild steel sheet metal chassis tooled ready form CNC programming.
Heating and ventilation housing showing circular cut outs with CNC nibbling tools.
Heating and ventilation housing showing circular cut outs with CNC nibbling tools.
Stainless steel bracket tooled ready to be CNC punched using a Trumpf 3000R CNC punch press.
Stainless steel bracket tooled ready to be CNC punched using a Trumpf 3000R CNC punch press.
Ventilation cover for an airconditioning unit CNC punched from galvanised mild steel.
Ventilation cover for an airconditioning unit CNC punched from galvanised mild steel.
Fan chassis plate with large circular cut out.
Fan chassis plate with large circular cut out.
Electronics back plane connector panel CNC programmed with tooling ready for punching on a Trumpf 200 CNC punch press.
Electronics back plane connector panel CNC programmed with tooling ready for punching on a Trumpf 200 CNC punch press.
LED heat sink plate programmed to use multi-tool tooling.
LED heat sink plate programmed to use multi-tool tooling.
Sheet metal chassis plate for a down light fitting.
Sheet metal chassis plate for a down light fitting.
Simple aluminium bracket programmed from a 3D SAT supplied direct from Radan spoftware.
Simple aluminium bracket programmed from a 3D SAT supplied direct from Radan spoftware.
CNC programming nest
CNC programming nest

CNC punch press program graphical nest

Tooled parts in a nest in Radan software

The use of Radan's automatic sheet nesting capabilities enables V and F Sheet Metal to quickly try out different CNC punching nests options to evaluate the best material utilization. We can experiment with the position and alignment of components within the sheets which can be a very powerful tool when manufacturing a series of parts for a family of parts. We may be able to punch small parts from within the windows of other parts, between the punch press clamps or in the dead areas between larger parts within the CNC nest on the CNC punch press. With raw material prices rising faster than general inflation, the material costs are becoming a larger percentage of the overall component costs. Radan's CAD/CAM software helps us to keep this cost down which in turn is passed onto you the customer as cheaper components. As an aside, all the sheet material that is punched out through the dies and left in the CNC frames is separated into material types and 100% recycled so nothing is really wasted.

CNC programming sheet metal work for a Titan CNC punch press - simple parts easily programmed for CNC punching

Gocder sheet metal software
Gocder sheet metal software

If the sheet metal parts that need to be manufactured are simple or from thicker material they may not suit our Trumpf CNC punch presses but may be perfect for our 25 Ton Titan punch press. We use Gcoder software to produce the CNC programs for this machine as its simple to use.

Radan sheet metal CAD/CAM software - Order text for Trumpf 200R CNC punch press

Radan software - CNc punching order text
Radan software - CNc punching order text

As well as developing the size on an individual sheet metal component and working out the best use of a sheet of metal we have to instruct the CNC punch press through the program the best route to take. The software will automatically plan a path to reduce the time taken but sometimes we have to modifiy this path to miss formed features on the sheet for instance louvres or up formed dimples. These moves are built into the program and the carried out by the CNC punch press.

Sheet metal components interlaced to increase sheet yield - Typical Trumpf 3000R CNC punch press program layout

Sheet metal components interlaced within sheet
Sheet metal components interlaced within sheet

The more parts we can produce from a sheet of metal the cheaper each part will become. Radan software has the ability to look at each part's true shape with its CNC tooling in place. This component layout was programmed right across a 2m x 1m sheet of mild steel automatically with 2 seconds. With this speed we can try out several patterns in the software to achieve the best fit and most economic solution for you.

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