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What is Sheet Metal Fabrication?



Sheet metal is used in almost every manufacturing industry, from electronics and appliances all the way through to medical equipment. Needless to say, without it, things would be pretty difficult.


The process of sheet metal fabrication involves cutting, shaping and finishing, however, there are varying methods of each that will result in a different end product.



#1 Cutting


Sheets by themselves, although very stackable and storable, are not useful for construction by themselves, so they need to be broken down into usable pieces. Some common methods used to cut sheet metal include:


Shearing, which cuts larger pieces into smalling ones using a shear method.

Electrical Discharge Machining, which uses a charged electrode to melt conductive materials.

Abrasive cutting, which uses traditional saws and grinders.

Laser cutting, which involves a computer-guided laser for ultra-precise cuts.



#2 Forming


Cut metal needs to be shaped into the right size and shape to fit the project. There are almost infinite shapes that metal can be shaped into, so there are many methods that fabricators use to create the desired components. Here are some of the main methods used to shape metal:


Rolling, which involves curving flat shapes with a roll stand.

Stamping, which uses tools to stamp designs into the surface of the metal.

Punching, which is simply punching holes in a surface.

Welding, which joins two pieces of metal together.

Bending and forming, which usually involves material being manipulated by hand.



#3 Finishing


A metal product must go through a finishing process to make sure that it is ready for use. Some common ways metal is finished include:


Sharpening, if a sharp edge is required.

Polishing, to remove rough edges or imperfections.

Cleaning, to make sure the metal is rinsed and has no debris, and in some cases, sanitary before its delivery.




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