6 Basic Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

Sheet metal fabrication is any process that involves assembling or manufacturing raw sheet metal. One or more fabrication processes can be used to produce the desired part, depending on the material and specifications of the project. Clients can choose from metal cutting, welding, bending, machining, punching, and stamping fabrication techniques to create their products. We will explore each metal fabrication technique to help you determine the ideal method(s) for your application.

Metal Stamping

Metal stamping fabrication works with various sheet metals. Galvanized alloys, brass, copper, aluminum, and stainless steel stamping can be used to deliver the desired result. Metal stamping is vital to manufacturing and assembling automotive components such as firewalls, doors, hubcaps, and trunk lids. Metal stamping lends itself well to custom designs and features, such as high-performance and specialty components.

Metal stamping encompasses more than punching holes in sheet metal with a die. When necessary, a stamp and die can lift a sheet metal section, creating raised letters, shapes, and images on the surface. This process works like woodworking and marble relief carving and is used in applications like minting coins.

Metal Cutting

Sheet metal cutting is often the first step in metal fabrication. Depending on the project specifications and thickness of the metal, a manufacturer chooses one of the following metal cutting methods:

  • Water jet: A water jet cutter uses a high-powered water stream to cut metals of various thicknesses using a narrow, high-pressure water nozzle.
  • Torching: A high-temperature flame from a cutting torch can cut metals prone to oxidization, including steel.
  • Shearing: A sheet metal workpiece is placed flat and shears cut through it with two large scissor-like blades, pushing the workpiece toward the lower blade. Manufacturers can economically cut thin pieces of sheet metal with small manual shears.
  • Sawing: Band and circular saws can cut sheet metal workpieces that are too thick for torches, water jets, and shears. Sawing is recommended for thick metal because it is time intensive.

Metal Welding

Welding metal involves joining sheet metal workpieces together by applying intense heat to bond the pieces. The welding method depends on the equipment available, the metal type, and the material’s thickness. Manufacturers perform sheet metal welding using the following popular methods:

  • MIG welding: A type of arc welding that relies on a continuous wire electrode being fed through a welding gun to generate a welding pool. A shielding gas protects the weld pool from contamination.
  • TIG welding: An electric arc travels through an infusible tungsten electrode to generate intense heat, fusing 8- to 10-mm thick metal sheets.
  • Laser welding: A method that fuses sheet metal workpieces by melting and bonding the metal with a solid-state laser resonator. Laser welding delivers high-quality welds with consistency.

Metal Bending

Metal bending is a vital step of sheet metal fabrication. Sheet metal is bent using bending equipment like press brakes and rolling machines. Manufacturers rely on bending to shape the sheet metal into various products, such as by creating configurations like T-shaped corners and 90° angles.

Metal Machining

Machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that removes material from a workpiece to create a component. While manual machining is still common, computer numerical control (CNC) machining is increasingly popular due to its speed, consistency, and tight tolerances.

CNC turning and milling are the most common processes. Turning relies on a stationary, single-point cutting tool to remove material from a rotating workpiece. It is ideal for creating cylindrical pieces with high-precision external and internal elements. Milling removes excess material using a rotating multi-point cutting tool on a stationary workpiece to create a component from start to finish or as a secondary finishing process. Machining provides replicable, accurate, and precise material removal.

Metal Punching

Metal punching is a fabrication method that forms, cuts, and punches metal with a punch press as the workpiece passes through it. A metal punching tool combined with a die set offers the versatility to create custom metal workpieces out of various metals. It is a cost-effective and efficient solution for high-volume production.

Sheet Metal Fabrication From Manor Tool

Sheet metal fabrication involves six main techniques that can be used separately or in combination to produce the desired part. With over six decades of experience, Manor Tool serves various industries with quality metal stamping and fabrication from our Illinois facility. Contact us or request a quote to discuss your sheet metal fabrication needs.

Leave a Reply