Humans have a long history of working with metal, using it to fabricate weapons, construct buildings, and in the production of cars, trains, ships among many other things. Since metal fabrication has played such an important part in shaping our society, this blog takes a look back at the history of metal work and sheet metal and how it has evolved over time.
The development of early metal work into sheet metal
Civilisations across the world had been working with metal for thousands of years, using techniques such as hammering, embossing, chasing, inlaying, gilding, and wiredrawing for both practical and aesthetic purposes. Although these hand-done techniques are still used today, metal work was made much easier with the invention of the first rolling mill in 1590 thanks to Leonardo da Vinci. The first rolling mills consisted of two heavy cylinders designed to press various metals into different thicknesses, however limited thicknesses could be achieved due to their basic design. Later designs, which incorporated hydraulics, were much more effective as they were able to apply much more pressure to the metal resulting in thinner sheets. This process became known as cold rolling.
The development of sheet metal machinery
Since the rolling mill allowed for the production of sheet metal, other machinery also had to be developed in order to work with this thin style of metal. With the Industrial Revolution came a huge influx of sheet metal work, leading to inventions such as the assembly line, press brakes, and fabricators, which, in turn, lead to even more sheet metal production and innovation. Soon after the hydraulic press came the friction press and eccentric press, which further propelled the sheet metal industry.
Sheet metal machinery today
Today there is an abundance of sheet metal machinery available, including hydraulic cutters, plasma cutters, laser cutters, guillotines, punch and shears, hand shears, bandsaws and much more. The continual development of sheet metal machinery has allowed the sheet metal industry to flourish with constant innovation in design and techniques.
ACRA stock a huge range of new and used sheet metal machinery, suitable for all levels of sheet metal production. To find the right piece of machinery suited to your production needs, simply contact one of our friendly staff on 03 9794 6675.