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A Beginner’s Guide To Sheet Metal Machinery: From Planning To Production

Sheet metal fabrication is metal that has been shaped into thin and flat sheets and then bent and cut to varied shapes. Different metals, such as brass, steel, copper, tin, titanium, aluminum, etc., are used to produce sheet metal. Platinum, gold, and silver are suitable for decorative purposes among other purposes.

Sheet metal is used to construct a variety of objects with varying thicknesses, from very thin sheets, also known as foil or leaf, to thicker sheets usually ranging from 3mm to 6mm, such as plate. The variety of elements is gauge, which is generally between 22 gauge to 26 gauge. The gauge of the metal sheet is directly proportional to the thickness of the metal.

In essence, sheet metal fabrication entails the process of cutting, bending, or stretching iron into distinct shapes by forming holes and cutting shapes into two-dimensional shapes. The processing of the metal sheets can create holes and 2D geometric cut-out shapes; deformation processes can later create complex contours by stretching sheets.

Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

Metal fabrication methods can be divided into cutting, forming, and assembly:

Sheet Metal Fabrication: Cutting

With the help of hand and power tools or handheld plasma torches from CNC cutters, for example, lasers to saw, shear, or chisel, the methodology in question is a subtractive manufacturing process, since it produces functional parts by using the removal or subtraction of sections of sheet metal. A few different machines are capable of cutting the sheet metal, with some of those designed for that purpose.

In principle, there are two types of cutting without shear and with shear.

  • Shear cutting may involve typical shearing, shearing, and blanking the finished products. Shear reductions are the cuts mostly useful in the non-industrial product sector due to their limited precision.
  • Cutting without shears is instrumental in the creation of precision industrial products, such as those found in the aviation industry. The processes used in fabrication use laser, water, plasma, and machining cutting.

Sheet Metal Fabrication: Forming

In contrast to removal, which subtracts material from sheet metal, forming shapes by reshaping and reconfiguring it. The process includes bending, stamping, rolling, stretching, and spinning. 

Press brakes are machines used to bend sheet metal into U-shapes, V-shapes, and channels. The angles can be from 0 to 120 degrees. Thicker sheet metal gauges are more challenging to bend. Conversely, horizontal bends on sheet metal can be removed from strip-shaped pieces in a process called decambering.

Sheet Metal Fabrication: Assembly

Assembly might not be regarded as a fabrication method, but its usage is indispensable in the overall manufacturing process. Sheet metal components with dissimilar parts are assembled using fasteners such as screws, rivets, and rivets. Punching can be used to create spaces for rivets, pins, and other fasteners in the overall sheet metal assembly line process. Critical processes in assembly are welding, riveting, brazing, and adhesive use.

The process of welding is used for heat to melt a portion of the metal where it will meet with another material. The molten components are commingled. Different types of welding, plasma, MMA, TIG, for example, offer different patient abilities for different materials. Welding has many applications, including joining metals, joining plastics, and joining wood.

Types of Sheet Metal Fabrication Metals

There are a number of kinds of sheet metal that are used for fabrication. The common metals used in fabrication include copper, aluminum, and stainless steel.

    • Steel has numerous variations known for its strength and resilience. 
  • Magnesium is largely used as a guest metal and has a very low density and is very agile.
  • Aluminum is light in weight and also great at lower levels than the steel. It’s largely used in refrigeration and aerospace, and it has high tensile characteristics that outdo the one of easy to maintain.
  • Bronze has a low melting point and is mostly used in making coins, turbines, cookware, etc. 
  • Brass is lightweight and more corrosion resistant. It is mostly used in fittings and components, and it boasts acoustic properties.
  • Copper is malleable, ductile, corrosion resistant, and electrically conductive.

In conclusion, sheet metal fabrication is a type of metal working. The metal pieces can be formed into a variety of shapes or panels depending on your requirements. It can range from a small household appliance, to large metal structures.

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