Sheet metal fabrication is all about forming, shaping, and unifying of the metal to make something useful out of it. There are several tools and techniques that facilitate the process. In this article, we will talk about the basic techniques of sheet metal fabrication that are used to form metal based end products.
Bending the metal for further processing leads to the formation of much stronger metal products than by cutting and welding. It can be done manually but with the advent of technology now the job has been shifted to machines which facilitate the job to be done more precisely and quickly.
This is probably the most important process for sheet metal fabrication. It is almost impossible to create things out of metal sheets without cutting them. The job can be done manually by the use of hand shears but for large scale productions, advanced shear machines (endowed with quality Amada shear blades) are preferred to cut metal sheets. Apart from using heat and high end mechanical machines to cut metal sheets, laser cutting is increasingly coming up as a method to cut metals in precise shapes and sizes.
Most metals exhibit the property of expansion on heating and they contract on cooling. Highly ductile metals exhibit properties of shrinking to a greater extent which is employed to form a metal product. There are various methods for doing this as well. It can be done by tucking metal where the metal is bunched together by forcing it between the crevices with a spade hammer. Another popular method is heating where an overstretched area is heated and as the area cools down, it shrinks. Shrinking disks are also available nowadays that are attached to an angle grinder which creates heat by using friction. This doesn’t involve the use of torch or flames to heat and shrink the metal.
Stretching is the formation of large contoured parts out of sheet metal by stretching and bending it simultaneously over a die. The most common way of stretching metals sheets is by using hammer and dolly by compressing and further stretching the metal sheet. Sandbags and plastic mallets can also be employed to do the job in similar fashion. Alternatively, a stretcher is used which follows the opposite principle of shrinking.
Metal fusion or joining is generally the last step towards the forming of the end product. The process can be performed by welding different pieces of metal together. This is the most common type of joining metal and can be further classified into Oxy Acetylene Welding, TIG Welding, MIG Welding, etc. Other methods include metal riveting where the metal is joined without the help of heat or by adhesive agents facilitating the fusion of two unlike metals.