Sheet metal fabrication is incredibly useful. However, many people don’t understand what it is. We know sheet metal fabrication is beneficial to a wide variety of industries, but how does it work?
What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication?
Sheet metal fabrication is the process of using various manufacturing methods to form a metal sheet into a specific shape. It can be used for many different purposes — for both the building of structures as well as parts for various machines.
Sheet metal itself can be made with a wide variety of metals. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses and will be used for particular projects based on these attributes. Common metals include:
The process of fabrication is a highly-skilled process that requires various specialties. Often, multiple professionals will work on the same piece of sheet metal to get it to its final form.
Why Use Sheet Metal?
Sheet metal can be formed into a variety of shapes. It provides a wide range of possibilities to work in many situations, many industries, and in many different ways. And once these processes are set and a satisfactory product is made, the process can be duplicated to create multiple replications of the original product. This is an attractive trait to those looking to sell products made from sheet metal.
Sheet metal is also quite strong. This makes it very advantageous to industries that require stability and reliability from the materials used in the creation of their products.
The finishing stage of sheet metal fabrication offers a wide range of options that provide their own range of protections and aesthetics.
As we mentioned earlier, there are a few methods to sheet metal fabrication that require expertise and extreme attention to detail. The professionals that complete this work are highly-skilled and precise.
This is separated into two different types: cuts made with a shear and cuts made without the use of heat.
Shearing, blanking, and cutting are all examples of the first type. They use mechanical means of separating the sheet metal instead of the use of heat. The process is similar to using a pair of scissors, although on a much larger scale. This is generally used to cut sheets down to size when precision is not a main concern. It is also generally cheaper than thermal cutting.
Laser and plasma cutting are both versions of thermal cutting. Laser cutting is generally the preferred method due to its precision, speed, and quality results. Plasma cutting is used for thicker pieces of sheet metal but it is also precise and quick.
This is the process of applying pressure to a piece of sheet metal in order to get it into a predetermined shape. This is a great way to modify the shape of the piece of sheet metal without actually removing any of the material.
- Stamping uses one or more dies to press the sheet metal into a particular shape.
- Bending can be done by hand or with the help of machines.
- Roll forming passes the sheet metal through a pair of rolls to bend it.
- Stretching pulls the metal with either an English wheel, hammer and dolly, or a stretcher.
Combining two pieces of metal together can be done through a few different processes. Welding, as we discussed here, can be performed in a few different ways. However, the main takeaway is that it makes use of a heat source to melt the workpieces to combine them with a filler.
Brazing is similar to welding except that it only makes use of the filler to join the two pieces, leaving the workpieces unmelted.
Machinery and structural adhesives can also be used to join workpieces together.
Riveting involves use of a metal piece which is called a rivet. The rivet is used to connect adjacent surfaces of the pieces of sheet metal through embedding a piece of metal through the two pieces.
Industries That Use Sheet Metal Fabrication
Sheet metal fabrication is capable of producing repeatable products that are able to withstand great pressures. This makes it an attractive method of fabrication for a wide variety of industries. It can be used to create smaller components of larger items, or it can be used to create large items themselves. This flexibility adds to its usefulness for these industries:
- Food service
- And much more
The wide variety of industries that make use of sheet metal fabrication just goes to show how advantageous it is to make use of it. Everything from sections for automobile bodies to pipes to cutlery can be made with various sheet metal fabrication methods.