Electronic Enclosure Desgin 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Sheet Metal Design

At ProtoTech Machining, we understand that many of our users are experts in engineering or science, not necessarily in metal fabrication or design. Designing optimal enclosure solutions that align with your requirements can be challenging, especially for those venturing into uncharted territory. Over the last decade, we’ve compiled resource material to share our expertise in sheet metal and enclosures. This sheet metal design guide serves as a how-to manual, helping you kickstart your design process and save time on unnecessary redesigns.

Metal Selection:

Choosing the right metal and thickness is the first crucial step in enclosure design. ProtoTech Machining stocks a variety of metals, including aluminum, stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, galvanneal, and copper. Each metal has unique characteristics, and we guide you through making an informed decision.

Sheet Metal Thickness:

Understanding sheet metal thickness is essential. Our stocked materials come in different gauges, and we provide a table to help you grasp the thickness variations. Our online template generator and ProtoTech Designer, our free 3D enclosure design software, are valuable tools to get you started.

Custom Cutouts:

ProtoTech Machining offers custom-built enclosures, allowing you to specify any cutout you need. Whether for functional components or creative designs like logos, brands, or product names, we make form and function seamlessly come together.

Bending Metal and Bend Radius:

Sheet metal enclosures are bent using a press brake or folder, creating a radius at the corners. Understanding bend radii is crucial for both functionality and aesthetics. We guide you through selecting the proper bend radii for your design, ensuring it aligns with our equipment and tooling capabilities.

Self-Clinching Fasteners:

Learn about the usefulness of self-clinching fasteners, such as nuts, studs, and standoffs. These threaded components provide solid fastening points, solving various component-mounting challenges.


Explore welding options, including spot welding, seam welding, and tack welding, each serving specific purposes like creating complex parts, watertight joints, or adding strength to an enclosure.


Discover the various finishing options, such as powdercoating, digital printing, silkscreening, chemical conversion coating, anodizing, tin plating, and bare metal finishes. Each finish serves unique purposes, from improving corrosion resistance to providing a professional look and feel.


Understand the variances in dimensions that come with manufacturing, considering factors like positional error, kerf variation, metal composition, and bending stretching. Remember that dimensions provided are for bare metal, and allowances should be made for added finishes like powdercoating.

In conclusion, ProtoTech Machining is your go-to partner for sheet metal design. We hope this comprehensive guide empowers you to embark on your design journey with confidence. For more detailed information, visit our website here. 


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