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Thread: Bending aluminum into a case.

  1. #1
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    Bending aluminum into a case.

    In my previous post in another thread, I mentioned that I was going to mount my Mini-ITX motherboard in a Subaru Gauge Housing, which goes on top of the dash in my WRX.

    Here's the post I made, for reference:
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...9&postcount=24


    I figured that I'll need to form a small box, and I'm going to do it by bending sheet aluminum.


    I ordered a few sheets of Aluminum 5052-H32, 0.09" thick (~2.3mm), from www.onlinemetals.com, a nifty metal and plastic supply store online that does custom cut orders with no minimums, for cheap.

    I had them cut a few pieces to size, and the whole order only cost me $11 for the materials, and another $11 for shipping, making it $22. Not bad at all.


    I'm going to bend the metal into shape using this:
    18" Bending Brake

    I probably should have bought this to make the bending and cutting easier, but it's a little more than I wanted to spend:
    Miniature Shear / Brake


    The formed aluminum case will be about 180mm square, and 60mm tall, and will have a plate in the back for the ports and a slot for a horizontal PCI slot, connected to a riser card.


    My materials and tools should be here for next weekend, so I'll start the work then.

    The resulting box should look like something like this:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate old_lou's Avatar
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    If you want to start bending metal seriously, look for something like these. Be aware Fly Presses are very heavy and really need to be local as shipping will cost plenty.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...sPageName=WDVW

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...sPageName=WDVW
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_lou
    If you want to start bending metal seriously, look for something like these. Be aware Fly Presses are very heavy and really need to be local as shipping will cost plenty.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...sPageName=WDVW

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...sPageName=WDVW
    Very nice... kind of like these dies, but in a larger scale:

    http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares...oduct&ID=82816


    I can get 30" bending brakes on eBay for about $40, so now all I have to do is find a bench shear..

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    Awesome ... can't wait to see how this turns out! I'd love to make something custom that perfectly fits my setup instead of using the overly cramped C134.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rando
    Awesome ... can't wait to see how this turns out! I'd love to make something custom that perfectly fits my setup instead of using the overly cramped C134.
    It should be pretty good..

    Some of the other hand tools I ordered were:

    • Nibbling Cutter - nibbles away at metal 1/32" at a time, 1/4" wide.
    • 6-32 Tap, for threading holes for normal PC case screws.
    • M3x0.5mm Tap, for threading holes for the fine-thread screws used in floppy drives, cd-rom's, etc.
    • Machinist's Center Punch - spring-loaded punch, for punching dimples in the metal for easy drilling.
    • Mini Hack Saw - general cutting use.



    The idea is to bend the main frame to fit the gauge housing, adjusted for height, and to screw the square plate to the top, and the rectangular panel to the back.

    It will probably also include holes for ventilation, mounting for a laptop hard drive and slim CD/DVD, and possibly a slim 80mm exhaust fan to vent the air out the top of the pod housing.

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    Interesting, looks like you put a lot of thought into the process. Did you think about how are you going to drill holes for ventilation? I had a case that was too bad, it kept the temp high, I wanted to drill holes for ventilation, they did not look good at all, they did the job, but looked real bad. I hope you worked out the details. I had to use hand drill, table drill would have done a lot better job but the case was too big for a table drill.

    By the way, very nice drawing, what did you use, please don't tell me Visio, I would be embarrassed.

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    Well, if it was just individual holes, I was going to lay out some kind of grid or pattern on the metal, and use the machinist's punch to indent marks for where the holes would go.. and then just use a hand drill, with the metal backed against some plywood.

    For something like slots, it would be laying out the pattern of the slots on the metal, drill a 1/4" hole at each end, and use the nibbler to cut my way through.

    For a hole for a fan, scribe a circle of the right size, drill 1/4" holes at the 4 quarters of the circle, and nibble away.

    Finish up with a light filing or sanding for the edges...


    And for the graphic, it's just a free CAD/CAM program from www.eMachineShop.com - it's intended for making parts for eMachineshop to cut for you for a price, but it's got a basic 3D view of the parts that I find useful for visualization.

    Of course, if I had a real CAD/CAM program, I could do much more.. but I don't have the thousands of dollars necessary for something like Pro/Engineer or the like.

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    Great ideas you got here. Thanks

  9. #9
    Constant Bitrate old_lou's Avatar
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    Anybody ever thought of using the alloy case as a heatsink with a l shaped bracket of alloy on top of the chip heatsink then the whole case will remove heat say with an alloy ribbed extrusion on the top?
    also here is a link to an earlier thread about punching a clean hole

    How to cut need holes in metal?
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by old_lou
    Anybody ever thought of using the alloy case as a heatsink with a l shaped bracket of alloy on top of the chip heatsink then the whole case will remove heat say with an alloy ribbed extrusion on the top?
    also here is a link to an earlier thread about punching a clean hole
    Car stereo heatsinks might be useful to bolt onto the back of the case if you are doing this.

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