sheet metal question(s)!


Old 12-22-05, 03:52 PM
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sheet metal question(s)!

I'm looking to buy a single piece of sheet metal measuring 5ft. by 10ft. with a series of 3/16 inch holes drilled into it in a grid pattern for an art project. The sheet metal will end up being framed without glass on it, so it can't be too flimsy. There would be about 120,000 holes drilled in it spaced roughly 1/16 inch apart. With this in mind, I am wondering about a few things:

1. Is it even possible to get a piece of sheet metal in this large size? And, if so, where would I get it?

2. With a piece this large with this many holes in it, how thick would it have to be to not be too flimsy?

3. Since it will be dispalyed on a wall, would I be better off with steel because of its strength or aluminum because of its weight? Of course thickness would have to be accounted for.

4. What would this cost me?!

ANY help or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!
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Old 12-26-05, 10:02 AM
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Try here:

Try a web search for "perforated metal".

It will be expensive because of the limited production run. Probably approaching $1000.00 for something like a single 5' x 10' piece of 16ga galvanized steel finished to your specs. Aluminum will be considerably higher- probably approaching double the cost- if the quantity of small holes can even be done. You are paying for machine setup time, then materials and waste. Aluminum does not punch as easily as steel- especially with small, closely spaced holes. Can you say distortion?

I priced out 4' x 8' panels of 16ga galvanized in a pegboard pattern, and the price was over $200 a sheet for a quantity of 10. A lower quantity costed just as much because the per sheet cost was much higher. This was before the recent spike in metals pricing.

Your pattern is nothing special and the material is on a coil, so while width may be limited, length (for practical purposes) is not. The perforating shop may even have something like what you want in the overstock or defect pile.

Don't forget shipping and crating costs if you can't pick it up. That will probably set you back another $200 to $500- maybe more.

Define "flimsy". A 5' x 10' piece of 16 ga metal will not support it's own weight if you pick it up in the middle of the 10' side (it will bow, but it shouldn't bend without holes). If you hang it from the top corners on the 5' side, it will be fine. If the support is on the bottom 5' side (leaning on a wall) it will bow in the middle. The 5' x 10' 16ga sheet without holes probably weighs around 120 pounds.

Your hole specifications and finish requirements may dictate the gauge of the metal.

It may be much cheaper for you to source locally a sheet of 5' x 10' sheet metal (a common size for a sheet metal shop with a plasma cutting table) and drill your own holes.
Old 12-26-05, 03:52 PM
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Red face cnc mach

16 ga might be a little lite for your app. 14 ga would be as lite as I would go, pref. 10ga...
find a local mach. shop w/a cnc mach. they can have it punched in a couple of hours.
also check your local scrap yard some times you can find matt. for cost per pound and the alum. might be in your price range
Old 12-26-05, 04:11 PM
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Wow! Thanks for that response, danski! I was thinking of screwing the margins of the sheet metal directly onto the frame to reduce any bowing. Would that work? Also, if I were to get two 5' x 5' pieces, would I be able to sturdily solder or crazy glue them together to make my 5' x 10'? Thanks again for the informative response!
Old 12-26-05, 06:56 PM
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The frame will have to be strong enough to provide support. One and a half inches of the sheet bent to the back at a 90* angle will accomplish the same thing- but it could mess up your hole patterns unless the margin accounts for the bend. Bolting a piece of 1.25 x 1.25 x 3/16 angle to the perimeter will also stiffen it up (watch the margins again).

Why mess with 2 small pieces?

Glue? Probably not.

Solder? Sure, but it isn't structural or forgiving if you aren't neat about it. You will need a soldering copper, too. Stuff at the big box ain't gonna work. Brazing? Maybe- neater than solder if you have the right tools and more of a structural bond. A piece of backing (like C channel) behind both pieces? Probably the easiest.

The easiest way of all would be just to get the bigger piece.

The CNC machine will work, but you have to find someone with a machine table big enough to do it. It will still take many hours to do it- after the machine is programmed and set up. Unless you know someone, I doubt it will be any cheaper than a punch shop.

You can spec your margins at the website I listed. Ask 'em for a quote. Plenty of other places out there.

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