As a species, we’ve been using metal since around 4,000 B.C. – and maybe even earlier.
With time, our understanding of metallurgy has improved, making way for new possibilities. Modern metal fabrication companies have a huge range of capabilities, and metal parts are vital for all kinds of industries all over the world. Custom sheet metal is one of the most popular types of metal parts, and it has a wide range of applications.
In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at custom sheet metal fabrication so you can understand what it’s all about. Keep reading for more.
What Is Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication?
Sheet metal fabrication encompasses various processes that are used to form a functional part. This includes things like bending, cutting, and punching. The final product is a piece of sheet metal that’s custom-built to precise specifications for a specific purpose.
How Does Metal Fabrication Work?
There are three main steps to the sheet metal fabrication process.
First, a 3D model of the intended piece is made using CAD (computer-aided design) software. Second, this file is converted into machine code and transferred to a specific machine. Finally, the machine uses various processes to form the piece to the exact specifications set out.
Each part made using this process is formed from a single piece of sheet metal. This ensures it has a uniform thickness, and this can be anywhere from 0.5mm to 6mm. Parts can be manufactured up to 20mm thick, but anything that has a thickness greater than 6mm is considered plate rather than sheet.
Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication Uses
There are plenty of applications for sheet metal. It’s used in industries including:
Fabricated sheet metal is widely used for building structures such as housings, enclosures, cabinets, and brackets. Custom fabrication is incredibly flexible and precise. Whatever needs an organization has, a reliable sheet metal fabrication company will be able to produce the exact parts required.
Benefits of Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication
There are many products and applications that rely on sheet metal fabrication – but they could make use of other products and processes. Custom sheet metal is often the first choice as it offers several benefits that make it more suitable than the alternatives available.
Customization is vital for all kinds of projects. Modern technology allows for a high level of customization when it comes to sheet metal fabrication.
Whatever project you have in mind, there may be some standard parts that you need, as well as some very specific parts. A custom sheet metal fabricator can make varied parts to meet your exact requirements. This ensures you don’t have to compromise or make substitutions and can do exactly what you need to.
Cost is an important factor in any project, and being able to reduce costs should always be a goal. With that in mind, you don’t want to sacrifice quality to save some money.
Custom sheet metal fabrication is typically quite cost-effective. One of the reasons for this is that you can buy custom parts directly from the fabricator.
If you buy standard parts from a supplier, you’ll pay more as there’s a middleman. You’ll typically get a better deal with custom sheet metal fabrication – especially if you need multiple parts.
Another advantage of getting parts directly from a fabricator is that it will save time. The more points there are in a supply chain, the longer it will take to get your parts.
This is as short as a supply chain can be, so it’s often the fastest way to get what you need. You can work directly with a custom sheet metal fabricator to benefit from fast turnaround times and more streamlined processes.
Higher Quality Parts
Quality is an important factor – especially in certain industries such as aerospace and automotive. Mass-produced parts are typically far lower quality than custom-fabricated parts. Getting your parts from a professional custom sheet metal fabricator will ensure they meet high standards and are suitable for whatever application you require.
Types of Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication
There are several types of sheet metal fabrication. The services you need will depend on the part(s) you want.
Laser cutting uses a high-energy beam to vaporize metal and form a cut. It’s fast, precise, and reduces the risk of the metal warping.
Water jet cutting is another option that cuts metal using a high-pressure jet of water (sometimes mixed with an abrasive substance). This is an ideal method for metals that have a low melting point, as high temperatures can cause deformation.
Plasma cutting is the most powerful putting option, which uses an electrical channel of extremely hot, electrically ionized gas (plasma). This is ideal for thicker material, but it’s less precise than laser or water jet cutting.
Guillotining is a somewhat different cutting method, but it can still produce clean, accurate cuts. It’s done by feeding the sheet between two blades that are compressed together. It’s one of the fastest and cheapest cutting methods, but it may leave slight deformation on the edge of the material.
A die can punch through metal sheets at a high speed. This perforates the sheet and can be done in custom shapes, though circle, square, and rectangle dies are common as standard. Custom dies are more suitable for high-volume production due to the cost of fabricating the die.
A press brake is a machine that can bend sheet metal into functional parts. The depth of the punch will determine the angle of the bend, and this can be controlled to a high degree of accuracy.
Assembling involves using mechanical fasteners like screws, bolts, and rivets to assemble sheet metal components. Welding can also be used for this to permanently fuse multiple parts together.
Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication Services
Custom sheet metal fabrication allows fabricators to produce a varied range of parts for almost any application. If you have a project that requires high-quality custom parts, a sheet metal fabricator will be able to supply them for you.
Ace Laser Cutting specializes in various custom sheet metal fabrication processes. Contact us today to find out more about our services.