Sheet Metal Design Software: What Are the Benefits?

Emily Suzuki Emily Suzuki May 16, 2022

2 min read

This post is also available in: Français (French) Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

Sheet metal design software is the most critical component of sheet metal fabrication. See how designers can use the Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension to streamline their process.


Sheet metal is a common material across many industries, including automotive, industrial, and medical, because of its flexibility, durability, and tensile strength. It’s also useful for household hobbyist projects — you’re likely familiar with it if you grew up helping friends or family members in their workshops. 

As the name suggests, sheet metal is metal formed into thin, flat pieces using a portion of steel, aluminum, copper, brass, and other materials. It can be precisely cut and shaped into plates, sheets, or foils because of its unique characteristics. Sheet metal usually remains under 6 mm thick (anything above 6 mm is a metal plate). You can measure this thickness in three different units: mils, millimeters, or gauges. A gauge is the thickness of the metal in relation to its weight per square foot — the higher the gauge, the thinner the sheet of metal.

Sheet metal can be fabricated to build airplanes, cars, fencing, household appliances, coins, and much more, and it can be manipulated in several ways, such as:

None of this, however, is possible without proper sheet metal design software. 

Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension

Industrial designers and machinists require fast, cost-effective fabrication methods. Although designers can still manipulate sheet metal by hand, it’s a tedious, inefficient process for industrial manufacturing.

To run industrial CNC machines, engineers must first draft a 2D sketch, render a 3D design, and export the file to CAM software. This process takes time to execute without the help of integrated CAD/CAM software like Autodesk Fusion 360. 

Fusion 360 offers an integrated portfolio of computer-aid design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) applications to help with any sheet metal design project. With the Autodesk Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension, designers can fabricate sheet metal parts and components and document flat patterns using 2D drawings and DXFs. You can manufacture your design with intricate cutting strategies for water jet, laser cutter, and plasma table machines.

Streamlined workflow and rules

Managing sheet metal workflows is easier than ever before with the Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension. Connectivity between 2D and 3D workflows enables you to create, modify, and document sheet metal designs and push them into production without long turnover times. You can also increase productivity by utilizing the preloaded rules for sheet metal folding, bending, punchings, and cornering. 

Increased productivity

Fusion 360 provides fast and efficient collaboration on the same projects wherever there’s internet access, resulting in increased productivity. Additionally, designers can use prebuilt visualization efficiencies to design in 3D and then “unfold” the material into 2D for production. The extension automatically generates bend tables to document sheet metal bending processes for fabrication.

See how the Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension helps bespoke concrete design company Concrete Collective cut material accurately and cost-effectively.

Try sheet metal design software today

Sheet metal design and fabrication have never been more accessible with the Fusion 360 Nesting & Fabrication Extension. Try it out for your next sheet metal design project!

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