Back to Basics: All About Sheet Metal Fabrication

In the world of manufacturing, name any industry—automotives to appliances, electronics to energy—and that industry relies on sheet metal fabrication. It’s where it all begins and ends, and is responsible for an infinite amount of everyday products

Within the topic of sheet metal fabrication, there are plenty of subjects to delve into; in the past, we’ve discussed such things as the advantages of metal finishing and looked at specific metals of choice.

But sometimes it’s important to get back to basics. Here, we’d like to look at sheet metal fabrication, and what it’s all about.

The Process
Simply put, sheet metal fabrication begins with a piece of raw sheet metal, which is shaped into a desired part through forming/deforming or material removal. The thickness of the metal sheet varies based on the specific metal being used and can range greatly—for example, up to 3/16 in. for aluminum, or 14 gauge for stainless steel.

By cutting, burning, and stretching, using special metal fabrication tools (such as band saws), the sheet metal is formed into any desired shape. Various processes can be used to achieve the exact shapes and specifications of the part. Rolling machines, for instance, form steel into round sections, while cutting torches are used to cut large pieces of metal easily.

To simplify it even more, sheet metal fabrication can be broken down into two categories: cutting and forming. To use the examples above, rolling machines fall under the forming category and cutting torches fall under the cutting category. Further processes used in metal fabrication include shearing, punching, hot and cold sawing, tapping, bending, and more.

Welding, one of the most common of the processes, forms fabricated pieces into place while protecting them from defects, such as warping. Once the fabrication is complete, various finishing processes can be applied, including painting, powder coating, and plating.

The Materials and Specifications
A wide variety of metals can be used in sheet metal fabrication. At Red River Precision, we work with alloys, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, titanium, molybdenum, and more. Using our press brakes can accommodate parts up to 10 feet long, weighing up to 125 tons. Extremely tight tolerances can be achieved—up to ±.005 in.

The Advantages
There’s a reason sheet metal fabrication is so common and preferred; it is a cost-effective way to achieve any number of desired shapes and sizes, creating the exact part needed in a short amount of time. Whether it’s a small part of the semiconductor industry or a larger automotive part, sheet metal fabrication meets precise needs and creates parts that are strong and long lasting that meet exacting standards.

To learn more about our extensive fabrication services, visit our website and feel free to contact us anytime with questions.

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