Business

A Manufacturer’s Guide to Sheet Metal Fabrication

Technology today is what drives the growth of the world’s economies. It is hard to despise that everything that happens in the global sphere is impacted immensely by a variety of technological advancements. This has become a match more comfortable in the production industry due to the inventions, and innovative ideas such as sheet metal fabrication and stamping have helped shape the manufacturing process. Sheet metal fabrication is one of the most valued processing methods used by many manufacturing companies to come up with robust types of materials.

In most cases, this prototyping production method forms functional items such as enclosures, panels, and brackets. The technique comprises different modern processes that include laser cut sheet metal fabrication, making it useful in coming up with precise metal shapes. This guide focuses on the main sheet metal fabrication processes, their work, and their importance in the manufacturing sector.

Understanding Sheet Metal Fabrication

Typically, sheet metal fabrication involves a set of processes used to turn metals into usable items. There are three most common categories of the process during fabrication; deformation, cutting, and assembly. This procedure could occur on various sheet metals, including steel, copper, zinc, aluminum, and stainless steel. These materials come in multiple gauges, and a manufacturer will choose one depending on the type of material manufactured. For items requiring malleability of the metal during production, a thinner sheet is appropriate, while for the production of heavy-duty parts, thicker sheets work great.

This type of production is considered by a wider variety of manufacturers owing to the several benefits it portrays. The technique offers a cost-effective process, high quality, and reduced processing time for materials in progress. For companies dealing with high-end products such as automotive, energy, aerospace, and robotics production, the pressure to deliver quality and quantity on time is real. Sheet metal fabrication has simplified things and made it possible.

Cutting

Cutting is an inevitable process in the manufacturing of items using sheet metals. This makes sheet metal fabrication a subtractive technique since one has to draw some functional parts out of a section of a metal sheet. When it comes to cutting metal sheets, different technologies are involved in the process, specifically designed for sheet metal fabrication. Today, the commonly used method of cutting is laser cut sheet metal fabrication. This method is frequently used since it offers speed and precision in cutting thin and medium-sized sheet metals. Additionally, laser cutting is energy efficient and hence helps the manufacturer cut on the cost of production.

Apart from laser cutting, there is the water jet cutting that employs a high-pressure water jet containing abrasive substances to cut through metals. This method is ideal in penetrating sheets of metal with lower melting points. For thicker sheets, plasma cutting is convenient as it uses electrically ionized gas to form hot plasma with a capacity to penetrate through thick metal sheets.

Deformation

This is also an essential process in sheet metal fabrication that aids in the manipulation of sheet metals. A manufacturer will not necessarily need to cut the sheet metal while undertaking deformation. Deformation involves using a process known and bending, and a brake is a machine used by most companies to perform this procedure. Ideally, a given bending process could manipulate the sheet metal in a V or U shape to an angle of not more than 120 degrees. Deformation through a process known as decambering can reverse a horizontal metal bend.

Is the metal stamping part of the deformation process? At some point, this could get categorized as a subgroup of its own. However, metal stamping, in most cases, is considered part of deformation. This process uses a hydraulic stamping press and works in the same way as punching. However, the difference between punching and stamping is that there is no need to remove the material from the position during the stamping process. The main tasks undertaking by stamping include;

  • Drawing
  • Curling
  • Flanging
  • Embossing
  • Hemming

Other processes that take place during deformation include wheeling, rolling, and expanding.

Assembly

This method of forming functional sheet metals uses a range of techniques such as standard fasteners and welding. Although this many do not consider this process as a fabrication process, it serves an essential purpose in the overall production process. It is necessary to know that when going for assembly through welding, different metals weld well with different types of welding.

The Bottom Line

Sheet metal fabrication has boosted the manufacturing industry significantly. The development of many industrialized economies has happened due to the use of this technique.

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