What thin metals in sheets can I solder?

Experts,

I’m at the point now where I need more than wood to put my Arduino projects in & on. I need to be able to build mounts and extensions, even small robotic parts. I looked at this video, and liked how a low wattage iron could solder pieces from sheets that were easy to shape & work.
What kind of sheet[ed] metal should I be shopping for? There is a huge variety, and some needing specialized acid-core solders, etc., but I’m looking for what I can use with my electronic rosin-core stuff and irons <= 60W.

Anyone out there using metal in sheets to fabricate parts to do physical computing? What do you use?

Thanks!

Suggest bare pcb material- copper-clad.

Local pcb firms will sell you offcuts cheaply.

Or ebay etc.

Allan

The video link markup was messed up. Here it is:

Tinplate perhaps.
Not sure where one would buy it these days but covers most of your requirements.

Go to the biggest hardware store near you. You will be amazed at what you can repurpose for your robot.
Also local salvage yards.
We here have Bunnings, they are the male version of a womans shoe store!
Most metals can be soldered, the main problem is the amount of heat required to get the solder to bond. More metal (thickness and conductivity) means more wattage required.

Daz

holesflow:
Anyone out there using metal in sheets to fabricate parts to do physical computing? What do you use?

Thanks!

I was a production engineer at a small precision metal fabricator in the early 80's. Put a couple-three bends in and it gets strong.

We did a lot with 3032-H32 aluminum sheet to GA (small plane) tolerances.

Look into brazing, it's done with a limited heat torch. All non-ferrous metals stick to the braze. You can use steel to mold melted brazing rod, a youtube shows an aluminum frame given threaded mounts by brazing around bolts positioned at the corners. When it cooled the bolts were turned out leaving threaded holes. Large bolts used, the braze needs extra beef for strength.

PS, on youtube find the full 10 minute version of Ralph Steiner's Mechanical Principles.

Brass sheet and small diameter rod is commonly available. Not cheap and relatively heavy for its strength/stiffness.

As an alternative to soldering, have a look at the foam/fibreglass materials used for constructing model aircraft. Excellent strength to weight, easy to cut/join using 5 minute epoxy. For instant repairs you can even use hot melt glue.

0.4mm fibreglass/epoxy sheet can be cut with scissors. The 1.6mm thick fibreglass PCB material is super strong but requires a diamond wheel/Dremel tool and dust extraction.

Bamboo barbecue skewers from your local supermarket are cheap, light, super strong and easy to glue.

People who build model trains regularly solder brass and nickel-silver. It is sold in a wide variety of shapes and sizes in good model shops and by model engineers supliers. Copper also solders easily and is widely used by the plumbing trade - though usually in the shape of pipes, pipe fittings and brackets. It is also easy to solder thin steel such as you get from bean-cans and jamjar lids - but you need to get all the paint off the area you want to solder.

When soldering anything other than electric wires and electronic components you will almost certainly need to put flux on the joint before soldering.

Soldering requires the metal to reach the temperature at which the solder melts. If using a large chunk of metal it can require a powerful soldering iron to deliver enough heat.

It is not easy (impossible for a beginner?) to solder stainless steel or aluminium.

Brazing, which was mentioned above, is done at a much higher temperature than soldering. By using metals that melt at a much higher temperature than solder the joint will be stronger.

Finally, don't ignore the possibilty of joining pieces of metal using epoxy glue - it can be very effective.

...R

If you have access to a propane torch, aluminium can be "brazed/soldered" with alumaloy rods.
No flux etc, just a good scrub with a stainless wire brush prior to " welding".

Videos out there on Google.

aluminium can be "brazed/soldered" with alumaloy rods.

But they are very expensive.
For a new type of construction for robots see

Just remembered seeing some guy at a model engineering exhibition selling a special sort of "solder" that worked exceptionally well with aluminium to aluminium joints.

I'm not sure if it was actually solder or some sort of catalyst that facilitated a form of welding.

Sorry, can't remember what it was called. It was expensive per metre, but you did not need much of it.

...R

There is even food safe brazing rod, 5% silver 95% tin. You want tight-fit parts with that.

Start looking at the packaging of store items too. Some things come in metal tins and sometimes they sell just the tins which get marked down after the holiday. I got lots of "parts boxes" at 75% off over the years.

Robin2:
Just remembered seeing some guy at a model engineering exhibition selling a special sort of "solder" that worked exceptionally well with aluminium to aluminium joints.

I'm not sure if it was actually solder or some sort of catalyst that facilitated a form of welding.

Sorry, can't remember what it was called. It was expensive per metre,

Yes I saw that at the Harrogate model engineering show about four years ago. It was £32 per meter, but I can’t remember what is was called either.

Alumaloy is very similar to "soldering" and from the price I received from a supplier here in Aus I wouldn't really class it as expensive.

10 sticks at 3.5mm dia and 450mm long for $28.00.
Less for more as usual.

Video here....

bluejets:
Tinplate perhaps.
Not sure where one would buy it these days but covers most of your requirements.

Tinplate - Wikipedia

You don't need to buy tinplate, just cut up a tin. Check its steel, not aluminium, using a magnet.

Epoxy can do, or superglue and baking soda but watch the heat.

Or use pop rivets.

And don't forget Altoid Tins!

pert:
The video link markup was messed up. Here it is:
How to Make a mini SOLAR WATER PUMP at home // New Easy Way - YouTube

Thanks @pert !