What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication? The Complete Guide

sheet metal fabrication

Sheet metal fabrication might seem an overwhelming concept at first. Many people don't know the realities of the process or how it all works.

Don't worry, luckily we have written this complete guide to sheet metal fabrication and broken it down into the essentials. 

Read on to get the complete picture of how sheet metal fabrication works, what it is, and what are the benefits of using it. 

Sheet Metal Fabrication: What Is It?

To put it simply, sheet metal fabrication is a term used to describe various processes that create metal parts or structures from raw metal or materials.

It can be confusing, due to the fact that there are a number of techniques used in the sheet metal fabrication process. The main techniques used are cutting, punching, bending, and welding. 

By using sheet metal fabrication it means that sheet metal can be made and stretched into almost any shape you want. This is typically used for larger finished pieces of metal which are assembled from smaller sheets, using the key processes.

How Does It Work?

Flat sheets of metal, usually steel or aluminum are either bent, cut, or stretched into your desired shape. This is routinely done by cutting or burning the metal you are working on. Therefore, allowing it to be welded or assembled into your final finished product.

Though the terminology can differ slightly, there are key phases to the sheet metal fabrication process. These are usually as follows:

Design: The end product often needs to be designed before the actual process takes place. This is to ensure the final product meets strict requirements.

Programming: After the design itself has been completed, the next stage is programming. Basically, this is putting the design into a code or language that the actual machine doing the fabrication is able to understand.

Cutting, Bending, Punching, and more: Once they've been programmed in, the machine will complete the general process of fabrication. These will vary depending on the design but typically include cutting, bending, and punching as well as often welding.

Assembly: Once the above stage has been completed, the end result needs to be fully assembled. 

Once assembled, the general sheet metal fabrication process has been completed. You should then have an end result exactly the same as the item conceptualized in the design process.

The Right Tools for the Job

With sheet metal fabrication the most important part is ensuring you have the correct tools for the job. Tools such as band saws and chop saws ensure you have an even cut throughout the whole process. 

Press brakes can also be used in sheet metal fabrication. They help to create sharp bends and angles in the metal. Press brakes come in a range of different formats and suit a variety of different functions, so it's important to check you have the right one for the job.

Oxy-acetylene torches are used to straighten out any defects in the metal when any deformities are detected. This is the perfect tool to use to correct any mistakes. It allows heat to be slowly applied to the affected area and removes any irregularity in the metal.

However, these are just some of the manual tools you can use in the process. There are tools such as CAD design software, laser cutters, CNC punch machinery, and even robotic welders. These are all things you can consider when choosing your machinery and tools.

Why Use Metal Sheet Fabrication?

Metal sheet fabrication has many beneficial aspects to it for yourself and your client. Firstly, it's important to note that the designs are so flexible. It can be used to create almost anything from small components to airplanes! 

The demand for metal sheeting is high because it encompasses such a wide range of industries and sectors. Automotive, construction, shipping, aerospace, robotics, and energy sectors all rely heavily on needing vast quantities of metal sheeting.

This is because metal is a strong and durable material that has a longer-lasting quality than most other materials. It is also, comparably, less expensive, and more cost-effective than other materials.

Metal sheet fabrication can also typically be produced at a faster rate than other products, meeting the supply and demand much quicker than alternative materials.

Which Metal Should you Use?

Steel and aluminum are the usual go-to metals when you think about sheet metal fabrication. Although, there are lesser-known metals you might want to think about. 

Steel is predominately used in corrosive environments and when strength is an important requirement. It is used for things such as piping, valves, and storage tanks.

Aluminum, despite being a bit more expensive, has its place in various industries. It's resistant to corrosion, but also strong and durable. Aluminum is used in the transport industry as well as consumer goods like phones, tablets, and laptops.

Magnesium is also a good structural metal, with a low density and is utilized for things like car alloys and automotive body panels. 

Bronze, having a low melting point and being stronger than copper, can be used in cooking utensils, coins, and even turbines. 

Whichever metal you choose, for whatever purpose, sheet metal fabrication will ensure a stronger product with an even finish. This is vital to designs with strict specifications, such as cars or other large machinery.

If you're looking for premium quality custom sheet metal made from the finest metal components, you can find it at A1 Sheet Metal.

Where Can I Find out More?

As you can tell, the sheet metal fabrication process is a complex one. But sheet metal fabrication can guarantee a better material to be used in complex construction and design projects.

No matter your interest, you can find out more about sheet metal fabrication by scouring through our website. You can also find posts written about a variety of other categories, from production and tech to engineering and manufacturing.

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