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How do you make panel door cutouts?

36 posts in this topic

As I was doing an HMI cutout yesterday, kicking up profuse grit and spark with my die grinder and seeming to take forever, it dawned on me that perhaps there's a better way. So what better place to ask.. how do YOU make your cutouts? I've never seen it done with anything other than a die grinder/cutoff wheel, but then again I've never worked closely with a large OEM that has to cut out dozens of panels a day. If I were the foreman of a shop like that, I'd be looking for a quicker, cleaner way!

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Used to have a very nice set of electric nippers but right now have reverted back to some masking tape, a jigsaw, and a file. Works just as well, clean, smooth, but not quite as fast and I just don't have the cool tools anymore

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If I can remove the door of the enclosure, I have put them in the mill and used an end mill. If I can't get the door off I use the template and then drill holes in the corners and use an air powered hacksaw. Then a file to clean up the edges.

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If the cutout is for a standard outlet, or a Harding Type connector, we use a Square/Rectangle K.O. from greenlee http://www.greenlee.com/cat_docs/Holemaking.pdf Page 34 If the cutout is for an HMI, the guys here then use masking tape and a jigsaw. PS: Their new DEBURRING tool is nice...no more filing... Page 52 PSS: Their 720 Keyway punch is AWESOME too... Page 32

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Not that's nice

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someone must own one...LOL....

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NO, typo. Should have said "Now that's nice" I have grinding stones that are similar but that looks like it would make quicker work of it

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The quick draw 90* Ko punch is vary nice. Works well. As for cutting out doors, I have used the mill setup and a Plasma cutter works well too. Just set up a jig to get the right cut out size and you will have it for the next time. I always cut from the inside out. A quick wipe down and a little clean up with a file and your ready to go. Of coarse a plasma cutter is something not everyone will have access to. The key to using a die grinder is to get the fastest one you can find with a little more HP that the smaller ones. Keeping the RPM up is the key. That and using good quality wheels. Racer

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I use our machinist. I give him the panel and a drawing and it comes back with holes in it. Seriously... we use the Greenlee stuff. The Quick Draw is a life saver compared to the screw type. We have most of the standard connector punches. Our shop does have milling machines and plasma cutters, etc.... If our machinist has a unique method, other than what is posted, I'll find out and post back. I'm on vacation until after the first of the year. Happy Holidays everyone!

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How do you guys manage this? It's shutdown time. No way could get time off.

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Our plant has two shutdown periods, mid summer and Christmas. They are used for general maintenance (as opposed to projects or new systems implementation). When I was a production technician I used to work these shutdown periods. Now I work for the engineering department. On occation I will work them depending on production/project schedules but it has been a while since I had to.

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We're running production untill 7:00pm Christmas eve night. Then Christmas off, and a small shutdown from Tuesday untill startup on Friday night. I will be extremely busy next week.

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How about stainless? What's the best way to handle cutouts in stainless? That and Fiberglass is all I can use (food plant).

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Portable hand held Plasma cutter is a panel builder's best friend. Edited by jstolaruk

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Ditto on the plasma cutter, especially for SS. For repeat devices, I make a template out of 10ga aluminum and then clamp the template down to where I need the hole. Then just burn a hole in the middle, work the plasma head to the edge of the template, follow it around and move on to the next one. One-off holes are not too much more trouble, I just line up a T-square for each side.

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For making conduit fitting holes I like the Greenlee 635 Industrial Carbide Cutter Kit. Its a 3 pc kit for 1/2'', 3/4'', and 1''. They are fast and leave clean edges. They also have a lip to prevent the cutter from going all the way into the box after the hole is cut. Super nice when making hole in existing boxes. Works well on SS, MS, Al, and fiberglass.

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Are you working with a volume OEM now? If so then I recommend your find someone with a laser. I use a local laser machine shop for any panel with any degree of complexity, and a single HMI coutout with a dozen mounting holes around it qualifies for degree of complexity. If its only a few buttons and indicators then I'll punch these myself or send them to our internal machine shop. Most CNC laser shops have canned routines for button cutouts and can turn a panel around very quickly. IME, their rates are very reasonable, at least around here.

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thanks for all the suggestions! at the present time, we're just doing one-offs and small runs. probably not enough to justify CNC laser or plasma cutting. I like the jigsaw idea. what saw blade would work best for this? i would guess it would have to be one with a very fine tooth pitch..

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I just use a fine tooth metal cutting blade. Tried the diamond tip but they seem to just be a waste of money

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this sounds like the way to go. what purpose does the masking tape serve?

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Guard against scratches from the bottom guide of the jigsaw that keeps the blade perpendicular with the panel. The vibrations between it and the panel while cutting will scratch the paint

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In addition to scratches, metal-dust from the cut has a way of getting under the saws sole plate where it get embedded into the paint by the vibration of the saw. Never use diamond to cut steel. Diamond is a superior cutter for aluminum, titanium, composites, and just about any material that does not contain iron or nickel. The problem with cutting alloys containin iron occurs becasue diamond (carbon) is soluble in iron and nickel. Diamond breaks down very rapidly when in contact with steel at temperatures above 1000 degrees, and right at the tip of the blade tooth points where the action is the temperature can easily reach that. If you want to invest in a ultra-hard material blade for steel work then use a CBN (cubic boron nitride) blade - but at the rate I break jig saw blades I rarely ever dull the blade.

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Thanks for that scientific explaination. Knew it didn't work well

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You might be overestimating the cost and complexity of a plasma cutter. A small 120V portable one that will cut up to 3/16 thickness (about 6ga steel) is under $1000. I like the Powermax190c weldersdirect.com link

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Is there not a danger of heat warp from using a plasma cutter?

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