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post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm looking at building my own case. I've been looking around at sheet metals and they have some decent prices on Amazon. However, there are many different types of each of the metals. I'm currently looking at using either aluminum or steel, approximately 2mm thick. A few questions though.

1) Are there other types of metals/materials I should be considering?

2) Which grade of metal should I be using (looking at 6061 Al and 321 SS)?

3) What would be a good tool to cut with (plasma cutter, rotary tool, dremel, etc)?

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 12
Well I prefer aluminum, since its very light, and easy to work with compared to steel.
What grade I have no clue sadly :/

Tools you can use all those you mentioned, dremel will be better for smaller and finer cuts of course, but I would use the others for bigger "rougher" cuts.

Good luck
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post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by KazeSupra View Post
I'm looking at building my own case. I've been looking around at sheet metals and they have some decent prices on Amazon. However, there are many different types of each of the metals. I'm currently looking at using either aluminum or steel, approximately 2mm thick. A few questions though.

1) Are there other types of metals/materials I should be considering?

2) Which grade of metal should I be using (looking at 6061 Al and 321 SS)?

3) What would be a good tool to cut with (plasma cutter, rotary tool, dremel, etc)?

Thanks in advance!
For aluminum, it depends on what you're trying to do. 6061 T6 (and somewhat softer T4) do not form well. They're very popular with machinists because they machine nicely. Most aluminum enclosures that involve forming are made from 5052 H32 as it doesn't crack like 6061. We've making aluminum enclosures for well over 30 years for military, medical, industrial and commercial applications.

Good luck!

For SS ($$$), I would consider 302/304 as it should be less costly.
Edited by Jim-CL - 12/1/10 at 7:23pm
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post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Awesome replies, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by go4life View Post
Well I prefer aluminum, since its very light, and easy to work with compared to steel.
What grade I have no clue sadly :/

Tools you can use all those you mentioned, dremel will be better for smaller and finer cuts of course, but I would use the others for bigger "rougher" cuts.

Good luck
Yeah, I'm leaning towards aluminum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Case Labs View Post
For aluminum, it depends on what you're trying to do. 6061 T6 (and somewhat softer T4) do not form well. They're very popular with machinists because they machine nicely. Most aluminum enclosures that involve forming are made from 5052 H32 as it doesn't crack like 6061. We've making aluminum enclosures for well over 30 years for miliary, medical, industrial and comercial applications.

Good luck!

For SS ($$$), I would consider 302/304 as it should be less costly.
5052 is marginally cheaper ($~12 for a 36" x 36" x 2mm sheet on Amazon), so that might help. Let me ask you a question...If I'm not forming the metal, just buying basic parts and cutting them to size (such as using angles for the frame, cutting and bolting them together) instead of forming to make certain parts, would you still use 5052?

Also, what about painting/anodizing/powder coating. Are any of those easier with the different types of aluminum vs the other?
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by KazeSupra View Post
Awesome replies, thanks!



Yeah, I'm leaning towards aluminum.



5052 is marginally cheaper ($~12 for a 36" x 36" x 2mm sheet on Amazon), so that might help. Let me ask you a question...If I'm not forming the metal, just buying basic parts and cutting them to size (such as using angles for the frame, cutting and bolting them together) instead of forming to make certain parts, would you still use 5052?

Also, what about painting/anodizing/powder coating. Are any of those easier with the different types of aluminum vs the other?
5052 H32 is significantly less when you're buying several thousand lbs but in your case, it doesn't sound like it's much of a difference. 6061 will be a little stiffer and if no forming is involved (or you use a large bend radius) you should be fine. Both will work fine for anodizing/powder coating (not as much painting being done in the US because of air quality issues, especially here in SoCal).

Th only issue you might run into with powder coating is that very little material is truly mill flat (more so with 5052). Almost everything is roll leveled these days, which can release stresses when the parts go through the oven cycle. They may have a "bow" in them that you'll have to take out.

Hope that helps.
Edited by Jim-CL - 11/30/10 at 11:32am
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post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Case Labs View Post
5052 H32 is significantly less when you're buying several thousand lbs but in your case, it doesn't sound like it's much of a difference. 6061 will be a little stiffer and if no forming is involved (or you use a large bend radius) you should be fine. Both will work fine for anodizing/powder coating (not as much painting being done in the US because of air quality issues, especially here in SoCal).

Th only issue you might run into with powder coating is that very little material is truly mill flat (more so with 5052). Almost everything is roll leveled these days, which can release stresses when the parts go through the oven cycle. They may have a "bow" in them that you'll have to take out.

Hope that helps.
Yeah, it helps a lot actually. I think I'm going to go with the T6 if my case design is simple enough. Now to get my design down on paper and find a machine shop. Thanks!

If anyone else has anything to add, please feel free to do so.
post #7 of 12
What is your experience with metal working and what kind of tools do you already have available to you? The answers to those questions may lead to enlightenment.

Good luck on your case build and remember to post pics. Hopefully you'll have better luck than I did, and more resolve. I tried to make my own case using aluminum diamond plate welded to aluminum angle, but not only did the cheap brazing rods not work quite as well as I hoped, the pieces I welded warped. I should have just riveted them together like I've done previously, but I wanted to try something new.


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post #8 of 12
I bought a Thermaltake SwordM case for $198 and it is virtually 100% extruded aluminum. It weighs about 60 lbs. empty. Spot aluminum is over a dollar a pound as of this post.
http://www.kitcometals.com/charts/al...istorical.html

I can imagine that it will take nearly(probably more, much more if you count labor) that much to build something similar. Drill bits, taps, screws, knobs, fans, switches, etc.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811133050
    
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post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post
What is your experience with metal working and what kind of tools do you already have available to you? The answers to those questions may lead to enlightenment.

Good luck on your case build and remember to post pics. Hopefully you'll have better luck than I did, and more resolve. I tried to make my own case using aluminum diamond plate welded to aluminum angle, but not only did the cheap brazing rods not work quite as well as I hoped, the pieces I welded warped. I should have just riveted them together like I've done previously, but I wanted to try something new.


Well, I know that I can't weld, so that's out. I personally was planning on riveting everything together. My tool selection...limited. I can purchase what I need, but I was thinking I may have someone local (that's an actual machinist) do the cutting. I'm currently doing everything in google sketchup, and could probably finagle something like solid works if I had too.

I think your project would've been interesting. I'm getting ready to post a build log with some ideas on orientation within the next couple of days. I'll keep everyone posted. This isn't going to be an all out case. Just something different.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post
I tried to make my own case using aluminum diamond plate welded to aluminum angle, but not only did the cheap brazing rods not work quite as well as I hoped, the pieces I welded warped.
My uncle does metalwork for his job and I once heard him say that aluminum is one of the hardest metals to weld.

I know you may have stopped your build, but here are some tips: http://classic.artsautomotive.com/HowToWeldAluminum.htm
Hope that helps
    
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