Sheet metal fabrication is the backbone of various industries. Its versatility allows the creation of diverse products, from aerospace components to architectural elements. Understanding this essential process empowers innovation and precision across manufacturing sectors.
What is sheet metal fabrication?
Sheet metal fabrication is a set of manufacturing processes used to transform metal sheets into useful products. We can broadly classify sheet metal processes into cutting, deformation, and assembly.
Sheet metal work may be more affordable than casting and machining for hollow or mostly flat objects. The fabrication process is quick and results in little material waste. Additionally, the procedure moves quickly and wastes little material.
Sheet metal fabrication is widely employed to manufacture industrial and consumer products and in specialized industries like robotics, automotive, aerospace, and energy.
Metals used in sheet metal fabrication
Steel, stainless steel, aluminium, copper, and zinc are typically sheet metals, and their gauge is 0.015 to 0.635 centimeters thick. The thicker gauge is suitable for strenuous applications.
Choosing the right metal for sheet fabrication depends on the application. Common metals used in fabrication include:
|Metal type||Characteristics||Common Application|
|Stainless steel||Austenitic stainless steel is non-magnetic, corrosion-resistant, and formable. Ferritic stainless steel is magnetic and suitable for non-structural or decorative uses. Martensitic stainless steel offers strength and corrosion resistance.||Kitchen Appliances Automotive parts – Architectural elements|
|Hot Rolled-Steel||Produced at high temperatures, making it flexible and easy to form into large pieces.||Structural components Construction materials |
|Cold Rolled Steel||Processed further from hot-rolled steel, resulting in smoother surfaces and better tolerances.||Automotive body panels Furniture|
|Pre-Plated Steel(galvanized sheet metal)||The metal comes with a protective coating to prevent rust. Increased ductility allows for easy sheet metal processing.||Roofing and siding Outdoor structures HVAC systems|
|Aluminum||Excellent strength-to-weight ratio, versatile, and meets a wide range of application requirements.||Aircraft components |
|Copper/brass||Brass is easy to work with because of its low zinc content.Copper’s productive oxide layer prevents corrosion||Architectural elements|
Sheet metal fabrication techniques
There are several sheetmetal working techniques, but they can be broadly classified into:
Every fabrication process, including steel sheet fabrication, begins with sheet metal cutting. The method selected depends on the metal’s thickness and the project specifications. Options include:
- Laser Cutting: Sheet metal laser cutting uses focused laser beams to melt metals in localized areas compatible with various metals like non-ferrous, mild steel, and stainless steel. It involves two sub-processes: concentrating the laser beam and using a cutting nozzle with blowing gas to prevent splashes and vapours.
- Plasma cutting: Plasma cutting is a thermal process using ionized gas to cut metal, resulting in large burrs and an oxidized zone. Effective only on electrically conductive sheet metals, it is ideal for medium aluminium thickness.
- Water Jet: A water jet uses an incredibly powerful stream of water to cut sheet metal. Fabricators use water jets to cut through metals of different thicknesses by forcing water through a narrow nozzle.
- Torching: A cutting torch uses a hot flame to cut sheet metal that can corrode, like steel sheet metal. Torching is a versatile technique especially when working with hard and thick metals.
- Shearing: Shearing is a process of cutting sheet metal using two sharp blades. One blade is stationary and the other blade moves downward with a fast blow to exert a shearing force on the sheet metal. This force causes the material to fail and results in a clean cut along the desired line. Shearing is suitable for steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and copper.
- Sawing: A circular saw is used to cut metal sheets that are too thick to be cut via other methods like shearing, water jet, or torch. A typical 7-1/4″ circular saw can cut through mild steel up to 1/4″ thick, while a more powerful 10″ saw can handle up to 3/8″ thick material.
In the manufacturing sector, sheet metal bending is a common and essential procedure. The plastic deformation of the work over an axis known as sheet metal bending results in a change in the geometry of the portion. Similar to other metal-forming techniques, bending modifies the shape of the workpiece while maintaining the same material volume.
- V-bending: V-bending is a common sheet metal bending process using a V-shaped die and a V-angled punch. The punch presses metal sheets into the die, resulting in the V-bending of sheet metal.
- Roll Bending: Roll Bending is a sheet metal bending technique that uses three rollers, a hydraulic pressing system, and a brake to bend sheets into curved forms, allowing manufacturers to achieve precise and efficient results.
- Edge Bending: Edge bending sheet metal is a technique used by manufacturers to bend edges without damaging them, particularly in shorter sections. This method reduces corner sharpness and enhances the aesthetic appearance of the final product.
- Wipe Bending: Wipe bending involves placing a metal sheet in a wiping die, applying pressure with a pressure pad, and then using a punch to create the desired bend.
Welding is used to assemble sheet metal; there are several options available. The welding procedure chosen depends on the type of metal, the thickness of the material, and your welding equipment.
- Laser Welding: Laser welding uses a high-powered, solid-state laser resonator to melt metal, ensuring consistent, high-quality welds in fabrication shops.
- MIG Welding: MIG welding involves an arc welding process with a continuous wire electrode, shielding gas from contamination.
- TIG Welding: TIG welding uses an electric arc and an infusible tungsten electrode for sheet metals up to 8–10 mm thick.
Once you have completed the sheet metal fabrication, the final step is to finish your project.
- Sandblasting: This involves shooting sand and other abrasives against your sheet metal at a high velocity. Sandblasting creates a matte texture on your sheet metal and is often used to prepare metal for coating.
- Buff polishing: This finish is created by using a cloth wheel to buff the surface of the metal. If you want your metal project to shine, then buff polishing is likely the technique for you.
- Metal plating and coating: Various coats can be applied to your project via chemical baths, which alter the substrate and improve the corrosion resistance and durability (as well as the look) of your sheet metal project.
Advantages of sheet metal fabrication
The major advantages of sheet metal fabrication include:
- Lightweight part manufacturing: Sheet metal is ideal for producing lightweight components, which is essential for industries like aerospace and automotive.
- Versatility: Sheet metal fabrication can be used with a variety of metals, including copper, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, and custom sheet metals.
- Efficiency and accuracy: Sheet metal fabrication is an efficient and accurate process, allowing for fast prototyping and high precision.
- Scalability: Sheet metal fabrication is scalable, meaning it can be used to produce single components or mass-produce parts.
- Turnaround: Sheet metal fabrication offers quick turnaround times, which is important in industries like automotive and electronics.
Looking For An Expert Sheet Metal Fabricator
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Our top sheet metal fabricators are
Taikisha Engineering India Pvt. Ltd. offers a range of services and products. They are ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015, and 45001:2018 OSHAS-certified company. Their products include automotive painting plant systems, fabricated laser parts, electrical and automation panels, sheet metal forming and assembly, HVAC systems, and control panels for low-voltage electrification.
Rupam Fabricators is ISO 9001:2015 certificated company. They specialize in the fabrication and supply of high-precision machined components and steel structures. Their product range includes precision machining components, sheet metal fabrication, structural fabrication, automat components, spinneret holders, and tactile studs.
Krishna Profile Industries is an ISO 9001:2015-certified manufacturer that specializes in non-standard flanges, iron and steel products, industrial fabrication, and metal processing services. They offer laser cutting, bending, plasma cutting, oxy-fuel cutting, powder coating, and assembly services.
Contact us: email@example.com
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