The sheet metal industry is a critically important one for many reasons, one of which is that it is an industry that supplies and sustains many other industries. When it comes to sheet metal and its related machinery, there is lots of specific terminology, along with related tools and techniques. This makes it a complex industry to understand for those who may be starting their training in sheet metal machinery, or for those in related industries. That’s where our beginner’s guide to sheet metal comes in. Below you will find a comprehensive guide that answers the most important questions about sheet metal, from what it actually is, to some of the most important sheet metal safety guidelines. Make sure to keep reading to learn all about sheet metal, and then discover where to go if you need sheet metal machinery repair in Melbourne.
What is Sheet Metal?
The term sheet metal refers to metal that has been formed into thin and flat pieces. These pieces usually range from 0.5mm in thickness to around 6mm, which makes these metals perfect for the fabrication processes they are needed for. While sheet metal is generally steel, it is also available in copper, aluminium, brass, as well as stainless steel, depending on the particular application. Sheet metal is critical for many metalworking processes, and can be precisely shaped or formed into a huge array of different products.
What are the Common Sheet Metal Tools?
There are a wide variety of different tools and machines which are used in the sheet metal industry.
- Snips or Shears: Snips are cutting tools, (similar to scissors), that are used to cut straight lines, curves, or even circles in sheet metal. They are available in different varieties, such as straight-cut, left-cut, and right-cut.
- Turret Punch or Press: The turret punch, (also known as a turret press), is a type of machine that is capable of manufacturing metal parts by punching shapes out of large pieces of sheet metal. Before developments in turret punch technology, turret punches were manually operated. However, thanks to technological breakthroughs, we now also have the CNC turret press. This piece of machinery allows for increased productivity, as well as a range of different functions including punching, embossing, nibbling, and piercing.
- Hammers and Mallets: Hammers and mallets are essential tools for shaping sheet metal, as they are able to create smooth bends and curves in workpieces.
What are the Basic Sheet Metal Techniques?
There are a variety of sheet metal fabrication processes and techniques, and you can read about a selection of them below:
- Cutting: When it comes to sheet metal, the cutting process separates a larger piece of sheet metal into smaller shapes. This can be done with snips or shears, or if more precise or intricate shapes are required, plasma or laser cutters can be used.
- Forming: Forming is a unique process that shapes sheet metal into three-dimensional shapes. This outcome is achieved through forming techniques like rolling and hammering.
- Bending: This process involves creating angles and bends in sheet metal, which creates desired shapes. To create consistent and precise bends, a press brake is generally required for accuracy and efficiency.
- Joining: Joining techniques connect, (or join!), two or more pieces of metal together through the use of riveting or welding techniques. Other adhesives or fastening methods may also be employed.
What are the Essential Sheet Metal Safety Considerations?
When it comes to the sheet metal industry, there are certainly a number of hazards. Those who work in this industry are highly qualified and experienced individuals, who are trained in the safety risks of their job. Below are some of the safety measures that must be put in place in any sheet metal workshop.
- Personal Protective Equipment: Wearing the appropriate PPE is essential when working with sheet metal in any capacity. This includes safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, safety shoes, and a dust mask.
- Ventilation: Adequate ventilation must be ensured during sheet metal processes such as welding and cutting, as these techniques can create harmful fumes and gases.
- Secure Workpieces: When working with sheet metal, it is essential to ensure that the workpiece is properly clamped during shaping, cutting, or other processes. When this is ensured, it prevents the piece from moving, and this helps to reduce the risk of an accident.
- Tool and Machinery Maintenance: Regular inspection, maintenance, and repair of all sheet metal tools and machinery is absolutely essential for safety. When it comes to keeping everybody safe around sheet metal, maintaining machinery is one of the most important things you can do.
Do You Need Sheet Metal Machinery Repair?
When you are in need of sheet metal machinery repair, you don’t have to look any further than ACRA Machinery. As experts in the sheet metal industry, we are able to provide you with the very best expertise in machinery repair and maintenance, alongside terrific customer service. Backed by 42 continuous years of industry experience, we are here and ready to help with all your sheet metal machinery needs.