Maybe you’ve just become a fully qualified sheet fabricating engineer – or maybe you’re a veteran who’s decided to start their own workshop. Whatever the case, it’s an exciting time venturing into new territory and building something from the ground up. It takes a lot of work, but it can be a rewarding experience if done correctly.

For today’s blog, we’re going to be concentrating on specific tools that are essential for every new workshop and what they do. Whilst specific boutique tools may be more applicable to you if you’re looking to concentrate on a niche type of metal fabrication, the sheet metal machinery we’ll be going through are widely regarded as the best essentials for general work.

A cutter

As the name suggests, this machine cuts sheet metal. There are two different types of cutters that you can invest in – plasma and laser cutters. Both have their own pros and cons, and both are effective cutting techniques. However, you should know the difference so you can purchase the one that’ll suit your work best.

A plasma cutter is the older form of cutting and goes back to the 1950s. It functions by firing plasma (which is basically a superheated ionised gas) out of the nozzle at high speeds. This, in turn, cuts the sheet metal. Basically, the electricity that travels down to the sheet metal generates enough heat to cut through it. The biggest weakness of a plasma cutter is that it lacks quality and precision, so they’re not suited for high-detail jobs.

If you want a high precision cutting machine, then a laser cutter is what you’re after. Developed only a decade later, this piece of sheet metal machinery uses a combination of nitrogen, compressed air and oxygen to assist a laser beam that is then magnified and concentrated via a glass lens. CO2 lasers can cut through all types of metals whereas fibre lasers can’t cut through reflective surfaces. Laser cutters can also engrave and weld – making them a diverse tool to have in your arsenal.

Press brake

Unlike cutters, the purpose of a press brake is not revealed by its name. A press brake is an absolute must for any sheet metal workshop. This is the machine that bends and shapes sheet metal. You could describe it as the ultimate metal fabrication machine. There are several factors you should consider when looking at what sort of press brake to purchase.

What sort of metal you’ll be mostly bending and its thickness are two important questions to ask as you don’t want to purchase a machine that can’t handle your workload. Different tools are also available for press brakes and you should ensure that you select the correct tools for the right application – as well as compatible tooling that fits your machine.

Turret punch

Turret punches use a punching motion to create holes in sheet metal. A turret punch is often seen as a cost-effective machine because it contains multiple tools on one machine – making it versatile and leaving out the need for manufacturers to create job-specific turret punches. Turret punches are great for big orders where you need to cut the same shape in a large number of metal sheets.


Available in both vertical and horizontal options, bandsaws are able to cut through several types of materials and are fast and efficient at cutting through metal specifically. Not only can a bandsaw make straight cuts effectively, but they also excel at any sort of irregular cut. This type of versatility marks bandsaws as an extremely desirable sheet metal machine and that’s why we think they’re an absolute essential when it comes to starting a new workshop.

Looking for sheet metal machinery for your workshop?

Whether you’re opening up a brand-new shop or just want to add to your already existing repertoire, ACRA Machinery has you covered. We stock a massive range of new and used sheet metal machinery. Press brakes, bandsaws, laser cutters – you name it. Our knowledgeable staff can offer advice and help you pick the right machine for your application.

We also offer maintenance and repair services for sheet metal machinery – so before you look at replacing an older machine, let us take a look and see if we can save it. The best part is that we’re able to offer our maintenance and repair solutions on-site to maximise efficiency and save you the hassle of transporting the machine.

If you’d like to know more about our products or services, then please give us a call on 03 9794 6675. You may also contact us via the enquiry form found on our site.