There’s a huge range of sheet metal machinery on the market, and each machine has its own capabilities, advantages, and disadvantages. This week we take a look at three different kinds of cutting machines used in sheet metal and their key features.


Hand Shears

Hand shears are a manual tool for cutting sheet metal and are essential when working in sheet metal fabrication. Hand shears work similarly to scissors, with two blades producing a shearing force to create accurate, clean cuts. Hand shears can come with regular and specialised jaws and are simple to operate, allowing the operator to cut back or trim sheets for a variety of purposes including domestic roofing, bull nosing, water tanks, pergolas and sheds.

Plasma Cutter

Plasma cutters are extremely versatile and can be used to cut paper thin grades of sheet metal right though to ¾” steel. Plasma cutters work by running an accelerated jet of hot plasma across electrically conductive metals (including steel, aluminium, brass and copper), melting through the work piece to create extremely accurate cuts. Plasma cutters are best used for making long, straight cuts and are used in industries like automotive fabrication and repair, industrial construction and scrapping operations.


Guillotines work similarly to hand shears, however are much larger and much more powerful. To cut sheet metal with a guillotine, the workpiece is first clamped with a ram, then a moving blade (upper blade) comes down across a fixed blade (lower blade) to shear the material. Guillotines can be operated manually (foot or hand operated), mechanically, or hydraulically. Hydraulic guillotines are able to use much more force than mechanical guillotines, allowing them to cut thicker grades of metal. Guillotines are an efficient way to create long straight cuts in a variety of different sheet metals.

There is a huge range of sheet metal machinery available for cutting sheeting metal, and each kind of tool has its own unique abilities and advantages. ACRA stock both new and used sheet metal machinery and will gladly source a machine to suit your specific cutting needs.