Sheet metal is any type of metal formed into thin, flat, individual pieces, that can then be customized for any number of uses and applications. A variety of materials are regularly used to create sheet metal, including steel, brass, copper, tin, nickel, aluminum, and titanium. Even gold, silver, and platinum can be formed into sheet metal, with platinum sheet metal often utilized as a catalyst.
Custom sheet metal fabrication is a highly technical and involved process that requires a team of skilled professionals to accomplish. Let’s examine who these professionals are and the process they use more closely.
The Fabricating Process
A sheet metal fabricator turns raw material into sheet metal and finishes each piece to the required specifications.
The sheet metal fabrication process usually consists of cutting and burning the sheet metal before it is rolled out and finished. Finishing sheet metal often requires sandblasting, followed by priming and painting of the finished product. The final step is applying any customization details outlined in the customer’s specifications before the sheet metal is inspected and shipped out.
Quality sheet metal fabrication can serve a variety of industries in many indispensable ways, as sheet metal is the starting point for a wide range of other machining processes. Everything from office and institutional furniture, as well as liquid hauling tankers, barbeques, and appliances all, require sheet metal fabrication at some stage of the manufacturing process. Even cutting-edge tech industries such as telecommunications and solar power generation benefit greatly from sheet metal fabrication.
The Tools of the Trade
Sheet metal undergoes a range of primary and secondary machining processes to create final products and parts. Which processes the metal will endure will vary based on material type and design specifications.
Metal sheets are created using either hot-rolling or cold-rolling machines. Hot rolling heats the metal during rolling and is typically used to create incredibly thin sheet metal. Cold-rolling presses metal at room temperature and is used to create thicker sheet metal with increased strength and durability.
Band saws utilizing customized blades with the ability to feed sheet metal, ensuring an even cut, are widely used in the fabrication process. Also, heavily utilized are chop saws, much like miter saws, which make use of an abrasive disk designed for cutting sheet metal. Equally as important to the process are cutting torches, particularly when it comes to cutting large sections of sheet metal.
Hydraulic breaks are implemented to simplify the fabrication process. These breaks excel in bending the sheet metal at predetermined angles. When forming sheet metal sections into round shapes is required, special rolling machines are utilized.
An integral part of the fabrication process is welding. Once the sheet metal parts are formed, they are tack welded together. A multitude of welding techniques are applicable in sheet metal fabrication and are used to prevent warping and other aesthetic imperfections. This generally involves utilizing a stout fixture, staggering the welding, and dousing the metal with sand as it cools.
Sometimes a customized straightening process is involved. This is achieved through oxyacetylene torches that apply heat as the sheet metal is straightened in a languid and linear manner. An experienced welder can apply this method to remove even substantial warps in the sheet metal.
Premier Standard in Sheet Metal Fabrication
Premier Products of Racine provides high-quality sheet metal cutting, forming, and finishing services to clients in a wide range of industries. We provide unequaled services and benefits to all industry stakeholders requiring sheet metal fabrication, including:
- Developed quick-change tooling capabilities
- Die protection systems for all tooling
- Existing processes for highly cosmetic parts
- In-line edge conditioning
- Ready bend technology for high accuracy
To learn how we can support your sheet metal fabrication needs, contact us or request a quote.
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