Aluminium Purse




About: Wei Li is an artist and designer that currently lives and works in San Francisco. Li uses her work to explore fantasies and desires with visual, visceral and whimsical language. Incorporating pure sensations...

A futuristic metal purse. Made of sheet aluminium and leather. 

Aluminium sheet: 5052, 0.032inch
Lamb skin (turquoise)
Rivet: flat head solid riviet, 1/16'' diameter, 1/8'' head diameter, 1/8'' length

Band saw
Laser cutter
Drill press
Hand puncher
Box-and-pan brake
Air pressure rivet gun
Sewing machine
Hammer (rubber head)
Steel / Aluminium Blocks

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Step 1: Sketch & Rough Prototype

First make some rough sketches on the overall shape / silhouette of the bag. Prototype with foamcore or cardboard to get a tangible feel of the design and make small design adjustments accordingly.

Step 2: CAD Model

Build a CAD model using Solidworks. Flatten the pattern using sheetmetal functions in Solidworks. Export the drawing of the flat pattern into Illustrator and perfect the details. (Here I added the hems in Illustrator but you might also do that directly in Solidworks.)

Step 3: Cut

You can waterjet cut aluminium sheet with your drawing file. If waterjet is not an option, you can also use band saw. Lasercut the pattern on paper and then tape the paper pattern to your aluminium sheet. Cut on a band saw according to the pattern. Drill holes on the main sheet and the tabs for rivets.

Use a drill press or a hand punch to work out the empty part in the handle. 

File smooth all the edges.

Step 4: Bend

Lasercut the pattern on a cardstock (Bistro paper) and test the bending order.

Bend the hems half way on a box-and-pan brake.

The rest of the bends can't be done on a box-and-pan brake. Use steel/aluminium blocks and clamps to secure part of the sheet and then bend by hand. Use a rubber hammer to tap gently along the bending edge to add to its crispness. 

Step 5: Assembly

Rivet the tabs in place using a air pressure rivet gun. Bring the outside of the bag to high polish and clean the inside.

Sew the lining together according to the same pattern. Leather can be laser cut as well.

Use super 77 spray adhesive to put the bag and the lining together. Tap the hems all the way closed with a rubber head hammer.

Step 6: Glamour Shots


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    7 Discussions


    5 years ago

    This is great!! it would be cool in backpack form definitely.

    wei weiantagonizer

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm glad you asked! I actually made a backpack as well but it was not as polished (still prototyping!).

    wei weisinansoykut

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The handles were sanded smooth so it's actually comfortable to hold. But I guess if you put too much stuff in the purse, it'll probably hurt your hands.......:)

    Definitely something to improve for the next one!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    wow, nice! now i wish i would have all these fancy metal tools at my disposal to make something like that myself....

    1 reply