need advice on machining boxes

I have been in service/repair side of the machine tool industry for about 25 years and have an opportunity to do some side work manufacturing some electrical control panels- complete process all machining, wiring, assembly.

The boxes are all standard Hoffman enclosures 14 gauge steel with I believe a polyester powder coat finish.

Trying to do this the most economical way possible, I am ok with de- burring holes etc..

I need to do a total of about 7000 holes for conduit (1.115" or

1.362") into about 2500 boxes.

I have made a few local phone calls and so far the most cost effective way of doing this seems to be water jetting.

I never worked in a shop with a water jet or laser so I am not familiar with there capabilities about 1500 of the boxes have a standard white 14 gauge panels for mounting components these panels need a 4 inch square hole in them ( not concerned with corner radius) so they will likely also be water jetted.

The panels need to be drilled and tapped for mounting devices six to twelve 4-40 and eight to fourteen 8-32 holes, my partner is pushing for self-tapping screws but I think it is going to be time consuming and difficult to install the screws and we will end up threading them anyway.

14 gauge steel 4-40 and 8-32 strictly tooling costs and ease of operation would you prefer to tap or thread roll? Can a water jet make holes ready for tapping or thread rolling? If it can I would thread the holes myself in lots of 20 or so with a tapmatic head on a drill press.

If they can't water jet the holes it will add a second operation and vendor and part moving

Tolerances are not an issue my customer has no concept of a panel layout drawing with dimensions and tolerances. He just wants to be able to pick up a box and install it into the system he quoted to his customer.

I am open to any process recommendations, as I said this is not my area of expertise any help will be appreciated.

Cheers Mush

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Your imagination is the limit.

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You are trying to do this the hard way. Hoffman, Hammond, and others will CNC punch, laser, whatever, the boxes and back plates before they are bent, welded and painted and deliver them to you ready to wire. You are going to want a wire cutting/stripping machine. The ones that strip the last end of of the first wire, and the first end of the next wire are really great. I had one that you simply moved a heavy block attached to a tape measure attached to the stripper, to set the length from 3" to 6 feet. It kept count of how many pieces you cut and stripped. We did panels 100 at time. You may want a more powerful machine. Handheld wire markers are slow, and expensive per marker. We have one from that does wire markers and pipe markers too up to 4" wide. Hooks to a PC and does a great job.

Gary H. Lucas

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