Sheet metal fabrication is a dynamic and versatile process carried out by trained professionals, and as such, there is a lot to learn and know about it as a beginner. This industry is one that requires a precise balance of artistry and engineering skills that blend to allow the crafting and creation of metal products from architectural components to simple objects that we use every day. There are four main areas of fabrication, and we will discuss each of them in this article designed to help beginners familiarise themselves with sheet metal, and the various fabrication techniques. From cutting and forming techniques to joining and finishing techniques, these processes are integral to many industries. Keep reading to find out the ways that sheet metal can be transformed in order to use it for many different applications and functions. Then, you discover who to contact when you need professional sheet metal machinery.
- Shearing: This is a cutting technique that utilises shears to cut straight lines into sheet metal. It is best used to create basic shapes or outlines.
- Laser Cutting: Laser Cutting involves using a high-powered laser to burn or melt the metal along a predetermined path. Because this method is highly precise and efficient, laser cutting can create intricate designs, and the bonus is that there is likely to be minimal waste.
- Plasma Cutting: This cutting technique uses a high-velocity jet of ionised gas, also known as plasma, to cut through sheet metal by melting it. Plasma cutting is an efficient and quick method of cutting through thicker sheet metal in particular.
- Waterjet Cutting: Waterjet Cutting involves using a high-pressure stream of water that is mixed with abrasive particles to cut through sheet metal. This technique is known for its precise ability to make intricate cuts.
Bending and Forming Techniques:
- Press Brake Bending: A press brake is a versatile piece of machinery which uses a punch and die to bend sheet metal along a predetermined angle. This type of forming technique can create boxes, enclosures, and even complex shapes.
- Roll Forming: roll forming involves passing a piece of sheet metal through a series of rollers. Gradually, this shapes the metal into the desired shape. This is often used to create long pieces of metal with cross sections such as is seen in metal roofing.
- Stretch Forming: This technique applies tension to a piece of sheet metal so that it is stretched over a particular form or mould. This can be used to create curves in sheet metal, which is a complex task.
- Hydroforming: This involves utilising hydraulic pressure to shape complex contours into metal using a fluid filled chamber.
Joining and Assembly Techniques
- Welding: This is a very widely used technique to join pieces of sheet metal by fusing them together.
- Riveting: Riveting is the technique of joining two pieces of sheet metal together by placing a rivet through holes that are pre-drilled. The rivet is then secured on both ends. This method is exceptionally durable and is also aesthetically pleasing.
- Adhesive bonds: This uses specialised adhesives that are designed to join sheet metal pieces. These adhesives provide a clean and lightweight method of securing components together.
Finishing and Surface Treatment Techniques
- Deburring and Grinding: Once sheet metal has been cut and formed, the sheet metal can be left sharp and uneven. That’s where deburring and grinding techniques come in – to clean and smooth the edges for both safety purposes and for a clean aesthetic.
- Powder Coating: This is the process of changing the colour or texture of a finished sheet metal product. Powder coating involves the application of a dry powder to the metal surface. This is then baked, and the result is a durable and appealing coating.
- Polishing and Brushing: When a smooth or reflective surface is the desired effect after cutting and forming then polishing and brushing techniques are used. They are often employed to create an aesthetic and smooth finish on pieces that are designed to be decorative.
Do You Need Sheet Metal Machinery?
Sheet metal professionals know that the key to these fabrication processes is the safe and efficient operation of sheet metal machinery. Keeping your machinery running smoothly and effectively is critical to sheet metal workshops around Australia, and all workshops need an expert they can rely on. That’s where ACRA Machinery steps in. When you need sheet metal machines, we are here to provide you with the very best in customer service as well as machinery maintenance and repair. Backed by 42 years of continuous industry experience, we are ready to assist with all your sheet metal machinery needs.
When you are in need of sheet metal machinery sales, repair, or maintenance, look no further than ACRA Machinery. Contact us at 03 9794 6675, or fill out our online contact form and we will be happy to get back to you.