Let's Make Robots!

Making a complex bracket

Designing new parts

When building stuff I often need some sort of bracket or other fixture involving sheet metal. This is just a quick tip on how I make mine.

There are tons of CAD software, some useless, some overkill, but this free software fits my bill.


This software is proprietary for the company and designed to be used for ordering part from them, but the CAD program is user friendly and has a built in 3D viewer. And I only need a printout of the drawing for my work.

Designing is straight forward and you many tools to your disposal, like bend lines.


You can check the 3D version at any time to see if it looks like the part you are designing.




When the design is finished I print it out in scale 1 to 1 on regular paper and just glue it on the sheet metal using water solvent glue. This will hold it in place during cutting, drilling and other work.
When the whole thing is done, I just stick the part in soapy water and wash off paper and glue.

This method is probably bleeding obvious for many of you, but some might find it useful.


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This is the same way I shape my perspex.

After gluing on the design I heat the perspex with a torch on the bend lines then use square blocks to form the bends

Cool. I love useful software links. Thanks so much
Just installed it, very nice! I was looking for something like this but always got stuck on how to use it. This is really easy to use! Thanks! I'll post my first design first.
I use Autodesk Inventor
As far as I know the Autodesk Inventor isn’t free an it would be a bit overkill for my type of work. But if you can afford it, go for the best :-)

Not free indeed, but students can get it for free for one year form the autodesk website and there are always possibilities to get it without paying (although they aren't really legit)... I need to have it because of school and I think it's an awesome drawing program :)

Even though it isn´t new, S-Ketchup hasn´t been around long. I come from the Autodesk AutoCAD school, and GS is so much more user friendly, specially for 3D. It is also free. I don´t believe this is going to be a news flash for anyone. In case it is, it is more than worth your time.

If anyone is interested, this installs quite nicely under Wine on Ubuntu 11.10.  Runs faster than Sketchup too.  Thanks Geir.