How to Fasten Laser Cut Metal Sheets Together without Tools

Learn How to Fasten Laser Cut Metal Sheets Together Without Using Tools

Posted By on Apr 26, 2017 | 0 comments


You’re tempted to try our metal laser cutting service but you’re not sure how to create volumes with it? This article is here for you! Today, I’ll explain how to fasten laser cut metal sheets together without any tools, rivets, glue, or welding. This way, by creating 3D objects, laser cutting becomes a true alternative to 3D printing!

 

This is the second article of our series on metal laser cutting: the first one explained how to bend laser cut metal without tools.

 

We give you several versions of the two techniques tested by our designers: using foldable straps of metal or hooks of metal to hold parts together. All of our tests were made on our aluminum laser cutting material, which has the advantage to be the lightest, most easily foldable, and cheapest metal for laser cutting. You can however also use those techniques on our stainless steel for laser cutting and raw steel for laser cutting.

 

A summary of all the techniques we present you here

Just so you don’t get lost!

 

Type of fastening Type of straps / hooks Benefits / applications
Parallel Simple straps Create volumes by fastening sheets parallelly
Parallel Double straps, alternate directions Idem, stronger grasp
Parallel Double straps, alternate directions, crooked Idem, even stronger grasp
Parallel, multi-layers Straps with added length to include extra thickness Create layers with different purposes
Parallel, multi-materials One strap on each side to grab the material Include materials with different properties (ex: you can engrave PMMA)
Perpendicular Three straps to clips the sheet Create volumes perpendicularly such as shelves or boxes
Perpendicular Straps that slide into the notch and bend Idem + aspect
Perpendicular Hooks that slide into the notch Idem + aspect

 

Foreword 1: How to prepare for the straps techniques in your 2D design

In the following paragraphs, we explain several straps techniques, but the process is the same for all of them: in your vector file for laser cutting, you need to design a flat version of the straps on one of the sheets, and the matching notch in the other sheets, as you can see here.

laser cut metal fastening simple untied

 

You can then fold the straps perpendicularly by hand or using pliers. You then slide them in the corresponding notches and fold them in to finish the fastening. For example, the above sheets, once fastened together, look like this:

 

laser cut metal fastening simple tied front

laser cut metal fastening simple tied back

 

You can see all the folding process in the gif below:

laser cut metal fastening gif

 

For more precision, here is a dimensional drawing of the fastening system:

laser cut metal fastening dimensional drawing

 

Foreword 2: How to prepare for the hooks techniques in your 2D design

We also explain several hooks techniques, which have the same fundamentals: the hooks need to slide into the notches. When you design your 2D file, make sure that the two metal sheets level once the hooks are slid in place, like this:

laser cut metal fastening hooks untied

Here you see, that the hooks are lower than the notches before assembly. This is because to assemble, you need to slide the hooks in, then down. Only then can the two metal sheets level.

You also need to make sure the space between the hooks and the border of the part is equivalent to the thickness of the material (here 1mm space between the hooks and the side on the sheet on the right, because the sheet on the left is 1 mm thick).

 

1. Foldable strap of metal to fasten several sheets of material parallelly

 

We use this first method to tie several sheets of metal together by adding them one on top of the other (parallelly), like in the first example we showed you:

laser cut metal fastening simple tied

 

The point is to create volumes by addition, or to make chains of metal parts.

 

Tip 1: The orientation of the straps changes how tight the fastening is

This technique can be used in a variety of ways depending on how tight you want your connections to be.

 

Method a) Straps oriented in alternate directions can make your metal ties stronger

With double straps that each point in a different direction, you make sure your sheets of laser cut metal won’t budge. This way:

laser cut metal fastening alterned direction untied

laser cut metal fastening alterned direction front

laser cut metal fastening alterned direction back

Method b) Making the straps crooked will increase grasp even more

If you need extra grasp, these crooked straps will be better than ones that are parallel to the outer border of the sheet.

laser cut metal fastening crooked untied

laser cut metal fastening crooked front

laser cut metal fastening crooked back

 

Tip 2: You can fasten more than two sheets together

All you have to do is adjust the length of the strap so that it takes into account the thickness of the added sheet of metal. Here: we added an extra 1 mm thick metal sheet, so the strap is 1 mm longer.

laser cut metal fastening multi layer

laser cut metal fastening multi layer front

laser cut metal fastening multi layer back

laser cut metal fastening multi layer side

 

 

2. Foldable strap of metal to hold a different material with your metal sheet

 

It can be very useful to add another material to your assembly. In the example below, we tied a laser cut acrylic (PMMA) sheet to a metal sheet. The advantage that can be imagined is that PMMA is easily laser engraved, while metal is not. So if you want to add writing or images to your object, PMMA can be an option.

The technique still uses foldable straps, this time to hold the parts together at the top and bottom of the acrylic sheet. Of course, you can use all of the techniques described above and apply them to the material of your choice (keeping in mind, however, that not all materials are foldable).

laser cut metal fastening multi material

laser cut metal fastening multi material front

laser cut metal fastening multi material side

Among the laser cutting materials that we offer, others are ideal for laser engraving, particularly plywood and MDF.

 

3. Foldable strap of metal to fasten two sheets of metal perpendicularly

 

Method a) 3 straps to clips your perpendicular metal sheet

This first technique consists in creating three foldable straps so that one goes down and two go up. The ones that go up will be slid into the notch, and the one that goes down will hold the sheet in place. Depending on the angle at which you bend the straps, you can choose the angle between your two metal sheets.

Laser cut metal fastening perpendicular clipsing

As you can see here, the two straps that will be folded are longer than the middle strap, to take into account the thickness of the metal (here, they are 1 mm longer because the laser cut metal sheet is 1 mm thick).

Laser cut metal fastening perpendicular clipsing 1

Laser cut metal fastening perpendicular clipsing assembled

Laser cut metal fastening perpendicular clipsing on wall

You can imagine this technique being used for small shelves, and assemblies of the kind

laser cut metal fastening clips zoom

 

 

Method b) Folded straps that slide into the notches

With this technique, you slide your straps into the notches, and then bend them. The advantage is the hole that remains apparent, which can be used as an aesthetic or technical part of your design.

laser cut metal fastening slide

laser cut metal fastening clips back

laser cut metal fastening clips side

laser cut metal fastening clips wall

 

4. Metal hooks to fasten two sheets of metal perpendicularly

 

This is about the same as the previous two techniques, except you create hooks that don’t fold, instead of straps. The thing to keep in mind here is the hook’s distance to the sheet: it should be equivalent to the thickness of the material, so that it clips very tightly.

laser cut metal fastening hooks

laser cut metal fastening hooks assembled

laser cut metal fastening hooks back

 

 

5. How to use these techniques to create laser cut metal volumes

You can use all of these techniques to create volumes with your laser cut objects – this way, laser cutting becomes a true alternative to 3D printing when it comes to creating 3D objects. There is some required assembly, but with all these techniques, you won’t need many tools (at most, pliers).

The example we created is a box, assembled from the template below. We folded the template, and then secured it tightly thanks to the foldable straps technique (see image below).

maser cut metal box template

laser cut metal box

Here you can see the foldable strap on the bottom right, which ensures the box remains tightly in place.

 

The pattern is easily foldable thanks to the metal folding techniques we described in our previous article.

 

If you want to learn everything about our laser cutting materials, visit our material catalog.

You can also upload your 2D file right away, to test our laser cutting services, and start creating your own objects – 2D or 3D.

 

And in case you want to make your own tests, get inspiration from our test tablet: this is how our laser cut metal samples looked like when they came out of the laser cutter:

laser cut metal fastening all 2

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