The process of fabricating sheet metal into different products has been done for a long time throughout the globe. While sheet metal fabrication may seem like an easy process, it can actually be very complex for those who don’t know the basics of how it’s done. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how the process is done to make sure you do everything correctly.
Are you planning to buy sheet metal for your next fabrication project? Do you know what you need to look out for in your search? Well, there are multiple factors that play into this kind of decision. This post will share some background information to help make your decision making process less challenging. But first, let’s begin with the basics.
What’s a sheet metal?
This is a flexible metal sheeting which can be cut into different shapes, designed and shaped into anything you desire. However, this isn’t a DIY job; it has to be done by a trained and experienced sheet metal worker. The metal sheets come in different thickness and sizes and can be used to make a wide array of items in numerous industries.
The thinner sheets are often known as leaf or foil while the thicker ones are called plates. Usually, the metal thickness is measured as gauge – so the smaller the gauge, the thicker the metal. Most commonly used gauges range from 30-7 although the numbers differ depending on the used material. Sheet metals are also formed from different metals, including steel, tin, copper, titanium, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and brass. The type of metal used is determined by the requirements of the object you need to make. You can always get any kind of sheet metal here at TRUECORE Steel.
What are the uses of sheet metal?
Sheet metal can be cut and fabricated in different ways to suit your needs. Some common places where you can use sheet metal to benefit your business include the automotive industry, airplane industry, structural material, building material, electrical enclosures, holding tanks, refrigerators, tool boxes, railroad cars, dumpsters, medical tables, lockers, architectural materials, computers, decorative pieces, counter tops, washing machines, and much more. This list is endless.
Sheet metal selection criteria
Before you can contact a sheet metal supplier like TRUECORE Steel to get material for your project, you need to weigh up your options to avoid compromising on the function and form of the desired end product. Below are key factors you should keep in mind:
Sheet metals made of aluminium, copper and stainless steel will not corrode, but can develop oxide films. On the other hand, cold-rolled steel will rust fast if it’s not protected. Galvanic corrosion is another factor you must keep in mind: this involves putting two different metals in contact, then their electrical potential difference makes one of them to corrode.
If you intend to use the sheet metal for protective and/or decorative purposes such as building cladding, it must be strong. But, strength is even more essential if the end product needs to bear some loads. While a polished aluminium sheet may appear terrific, it won’t offer much when it comes to strength. It would need to be formed into a profile to give it more rigidity.
This factor that must be considered for both fixed and mobile fabrications. If the product will need to be moved, ensure its lighter. A great example is a trailer component. A lot of fuel is consumed when towing a trailer, so less weight means less fuel and more payload. When the weight is reduced, the supporting structure can be reduced, hence minimising the required sheet metal. The strength of the metal must also be considered along with the weight. Although stronger metals are denser, aluminium can be amazingly sturdy for its weight.
Is welding your preferred fabrication process. If so, then be cautious when choosing your sheet metal material; some of them are easy to weld compared to others. For instance, cold-rolled steel and aluminium welds easily, but stainless steel is more difficult. Copper isn’t suitable for welding too.
Some forms of sheet metals are easy to bend compared to others. For instance, most aluminium grades are very ductile. On the other hand, stainless steel is prone to cracking, but low carbon steel metals fall somewhere in between these two. Welding/screwing can be replaced with bending to minimise piece count and simplify assembly.
At TRUECORE Steel function comes first
Here at TRUECORE Steel, we always advise our customers to choose sheet metals depending on what the product or assembly requires. It would be pointless to make good looking products that will not function as expected. This criteria we have outlined should help you work out the sheet metal selection problem and narrow down your options. For expert advice, do not hesitate to talk to us.