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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2024

    Default Beginners Advice

    Hello here!

    Firstly, I have no idea on 3D printing, let alone metal work. But I am keen to learn, work on aircraft at the moment, and have a very old Aero Engineering degree I have never used.

    So I can learn/ understand.

    I need a machine capable of printing 2mm thick metal (aluminium or stainless steel - or I guess anodized steel) with a length of up to 600mm and width of around 400mm.

    I need to cut it precisely, include holes in the sheet, and ideally have the edges chamfered.

    Could anyone tell me what machine I am after? Google is either too much or too little help, depending on what you actually know. This is a hobby item for vehicle panel modifications (but 2D is fine - 3D ideal). It MAY be that I end up selling parts to other small-production or post-production vehicle owners in the long term. But primarily just after blanks and 2D strips to fit my current project car.

    As I say, 3D would be ideal, but not entirely neccesary.

    And on this note - where would i purchase the steel/ aluminium or anodized metal? I have seen a lot on amazon or aliexpress, but prefer local Aus manufacturers if able.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
    Revesby - Sydney Australia


    Welcome to the forum!

    Sheet metal can't really be "printed" (built up from powder). It would be like cardboard and have no strength.

    It is possible to cut/route (mill) sheets on a CNC mill, including nice chamfers,
    but the challenge will be clamping the sheet down while you cut circles and slots in it.

    A waterjet cutter might be the best way to create the size of panel you want,
    but it isn't an easy DIY setup, and only expensive machines can do chamfered edges
    (5 axis waterjet cutter).

    I know a powdercoater who sometimes does dashboards for a client.
    The client is an old aircraft guy who does the panels by hand.
    (stamps/punches some holes, hand cuts/finishes the rest)
    Nigel, from a cave FULL of unfinished projects and lost tools.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Norwood-ish, Adelaide


    Have a look at one of these - not cheap, but good stuff rarely is. These are used in some of the US based car modification youtube channels.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Geelong, Australia

    Default Beginners Advice

    I know you asked specifically about a machine recommendation, but I think you might be jumping ahead a bit far at this point.

    Roughly what size is the biggest panel you’d need to cut?
    EDIT: I see that’s 600x400 in your post.
    By panels are you meaning instrument panels, or other panels like door skins etc?
    Do you already have CAD skills to draw/model what you want to cut?
    Do you really need to cut stainless or is that a possibly/nice to have requirement?
    What sort of tolerance is “accurate”?
    Any chance you’d want to make panels out of carbon fibre sheet?

    If you took the chamfer aspect away then I’d probably be saying to just draw up what you want and get them laser cut commercially.
    If you’re more looking to prototype instrument panels or that sort of thing where you want a quick turnaround time then a CNC router might be a good thing to have at home - but do your prototyping with an easier to cut material - something like MDF or perhaps a Formica material.

    For larger panels like door skins out of aluminium they can easily be done with a woodwork router and trimmer bit using a template to control the shape.
    Also an easy way to make accurate blanks for smaller sizes .


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