Design Considerations

To get you going, here are some tips to help you design your project with fabrication methods in mind.

Designing with metal

Designing with metal can be complicated. It takes experience and research to understand the right material properties for your project. That said, you don't need to be an engineer to get the results you want. If your design is especially complex, or requires different types of dimensions of metals, you should consult Maker Spaces technicians for advice in the early stages of designing.

Joining dissimilar metals

It is possible to weld metals of different classes and properties; however, this is complicated and requires extensive research. It is recommended to stick to specific metals. If your project necessitates joining dissimilar metals, consider other methods such as pin joints (bolts), rivets, or metal screws. Even better, devise a new and interesting way to join metals. Speak to Fab Lab staff for ideas for your project.

Material thickness

The dimensional properties of steel influence the ability for it to be successfully welded. For example, it is difficult to cleanly weld thin sheet metal stock, say 1mm, to thick metal stock, say 10mm. This is because these materials require different amounts of heat to create the welding pool; the 1mm sheet will melt much faster than the 10mm bar. Try and design using materials with similar dimensional properties and wall thicknesses. If this can’t be done, consider other joining methods.

Join types

The most common welding joins are lap, butt, and mitre. The type of joint chosen is dependent on the structure and aesthetic intent of the joint.


When heat is introduced to metal (through welding ) it begins to deform. The rate and severity of this deformation are subject to the level of heat that is introduced. This is of particular importance to fabricators and will help determine the order in which parts are welded together.

Material Efficiency

It's important to design with efficiency in mind. You can use the links below to find linear cut list optimisers. These will help you layout all your parts in the most efficient way possible. Alternatively you may like to use grasshopper or simply pen and paper.

The 'kerf' is the thickness of the blade used to cut the material. Set the kerf to 3mm.

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