And keep in mind that whatever _you_ think of when you think of plain old
aluminum in 1/8" or 1/4" thickness, there's a whole lot of different
alloys and finishes and whatnot, all of which affects the price.
And the first question is: what kind of machine tools do you
have to modify it. At 1/4" thick, I don't think that chassis punches
would work, so you should have a drill press and a milling machine to
Another question is -- what size plates?
From MSC , 1/4" 6061 alloy (fairly
nice machining) aluminum in 2'x2' dimensions goes for $183.48 ($44.96
per square foot) while a 12"x12" plate is $47.91 ea (a bit more per
While 1/8" (0.125" thickness) is $97.03 per sheet at 24" x 24",
while 12" x 12" is $58.50. (the step from 1/8" to 1/4" moves from
"sheet" to "plate" in terminology. And certainly for cutting the 1/4"
you will need a bandsaw, while 1/8" thick might be possible with a foot
shear. (Yes, there are shears which will handle 1/4" thick and thicker,
but they are *big*, expensive, and very noisy -- driven by a flywheel
spun by an electric motor.)
So -- do you have the tools to work with this. The larger the
sheet you purchase (up to 4' x 8') the less per square foot, but the
more tooling you need to work with it.
There are online metals stores which will supply the metal for
perhaps less money. MSC is convienent because they ship quickly. (I
typically get things within 24 hours or less, and they have a lot of
things which I like to get and use. But for metals in small quantities,
either go to the online metals places, or find an industrial vendor.
(I'm on the East Coast, so where I get things would not work for you.
Yet thinner metal you could use a hand shear and a finger brake
for bending up boxes and such. And for bending, you need to select the
right alloy -- 6061 is nice to machine, but tends to crack when you bend
Thanks. I think I was too fast on the trigger. This concerns an astro
dome, and I do use some aluminum inside for shelves. However, my latest
thrust is to replace a lower shutter, which is about 3x3'. The dome and
two shutters are made from galvanized steel, so price wise and otherwise
probably better off using it. I'll check on this Monday with some
distributors in the area.