Sheet Metal

Powerful Dedicated Tools For Sheet Metal Design

What is Sheet Metal Design Software?

Sheet metal deforms in predictable ways according to several mathematical principles. Sheet metal design software takes these principles into account and ensures that parts are created according to how they will behave during manufacturing. Ultimately, it allows you to create accurate parts. The other primary function of sheet metal design software is to create flat patterns for manufacturing.

Sheet Metal Advantages

Sheet metal has many advantages over traditionally machined parts. It's relatively inexpensive both from a material cost and a shipping standpoint. It's extremely versatile in its applications and comes in many materials and thicknesses. It's perfect for enclosures, structural members, and countless other applications. You'll want to be sure your design solution has tools specifically created for the unique requirements of sheet metal design.
An industrial blower system that relies heavily on sheet metal components

Sheet Metal Overview

Alibre Design Expert has a dedicated sheet metal design space. A comprehensive array of tools and design techniques ensures you can create just about any sheet metal part.

You can also convert regular or imported parts into native sheet metal parts to prepare for modification or flattening.
A street cleaner head assembly with dozens of sheet metal components

Math Handled For You

Sheet good design presents unique mathematical challenges when calculating deformations during bending and unbending - Alibre Design handles it for you.
A mobile tank and pump that rely heavily on sheet metal components

Starting a Sheet Metal Part

Start sheet metal components with one of several "base features". Each base feature is ideal for a different class of part. You can then continue feature creation as desired.


The most common method. Create a sketch and give it thickness. Start with the most "central" geometry first.

Contour Flange

Create a 2D profile and then automatically create a multi-flange feature with it.

Lofted Flange

Create circle / ellipse / square / rectangle transitions with an easy-to-use wizard.

Convert Imported Files To Sheet Metal

A conversion wizard opens imported files and guides you through the process of defining rips, bends, and radii. If the file was created in other sheet metal software, you can usually use the one-click conversion.

Converting dumb geometry to a native sheet metal representation lets you easily make modifications and create flat patterns by unfolding the geometry.


During the modeling process you can selectively unbend sections of the model to allow for modeling operations that might not give the correct outcome if performed on the bent state.

Flat Patterns

Instantly see a flat pattern during modeling to visually check for overlaps. During drawing creation, select the flat pattern option to project the flat pattern for documentation.
A visualization of the flattened state of a sheet metal part
A gripper robot arm design leveraging sheet metal

Lofted Flanges

In many designs, especially those involving duct work or venting applications, the need to join dissimilar shapes comes up. Lofted flanges make quick work of this requirement. A wizard-driven approach makes bulletproof lofts between various profile types. Choose profiles, corner radii, profile offsets, height, and relative angle. All lofted flanges can be flattened.
Several examples of lofted transitions between circles, ellipses, squares, and rectangles.

Corner and Edge Conditions

Start sheet metal components with one of several "base features". Each base feature is ideal for a different class of part. You can then continue feature creation as desired.


Applies a relief cut to the corners.

Open Corner

Available for bends over 90 degrees.

Closed Corner

Keeps the corners as tight as possible.

Closed Edge Side A

Overlap one edge over the other for a watertight seal.

Closed Edge Equal

Available for bends over 90 degrees.

Closed Edge Side B

Overlap one edge over the other for a watertight seal.


Dimple dies are used to cut and shape dimples in applications like structural braces where weight must be reduced without sacrificing rigidity. Other uses include texturing to provide more grip on walkable surfaces such as trailer beds. The dimple tool allows for arbitrary shapes to be used for the dimple pattern and can create a solid or cut-out dimple.
A cover plate leveraging dimples for structural support and grip.


Easily accomplish a variety of hems to finish rough edges, provide a cleaner appearance, and to supplement rigidity. Hems can also increase safety. When the characteristics that a hem delivers are required, a hem is often preferable to other edge treatments despite requiring more material and machining cost.
A few types of hems.
Left-to-right: Closed, Open, Tear-drop, Rolled
An electronics enclosure using sheet metal.

Mitre Flanges

Flanges that come together with streamlined corners are called mitre flanges. They are used for a wide variety of design circumstances and are an invaluable tool. The tool is flexible and almost any approach angle is supported.
Turning multiple flanges into mitre flanges is as simple as checking an option and selecting corner conditions. Create dozens of perfect bends that achieve the shape you want in minutes.
An enclosure created with 8 combination mitre flanges.
A preview of a mitre flange during creation. In this example, four flanges
are made simultaneously and meet perfectly.

Reusable Blocks

Store often-used profile and feature combinations to enable quick reuse for common items unique to your business, such as grates, logos, dimples, or anything else you might use.

Store the blocks wherever you like on your hard disk or on a central repository and access them through the file system.
A design for a tanning bed with structural members designed with sheet metal

Sheet Metal Is Everywhere

Sheet metal components are ubiquitous because of their versatility, cost, and simplicity. From industrial fan housings to thumb-size clips to electronics enclosures to structural components, sheet metal is perhaps one of the most commonly used materials.
An electronics enclosure
A case designed primarily with sheet metal.