Sheet metal is perhaps one of the most widely-used materials in manufacturing today. Its wide availability and near-unbeatable versatility make it the best option for a whole variety of industries and the best option for everyone's bottom line. But exactly how versatile is sheet metal, and what can be done to manipulate it? Here are just a few sheet metal fabrication processes to consider, bearing in mind that each of these processes is hugely adaptable.
Beginning with perhaps the most basic process of all, sheet metal can be laser cut into a whole variety of different shapes. Pre-programmed machines can laser-cut a design into your sheet. How precise these cuts are will depend on the grade of your equipment, but top-of-the-range machinery can replicate designs with an extremely low margin of error. The speed at which this is possible almost completely eliminates the requirement for manual labour from this kind of process - and because of this, it cuts costs in the long run.
The metal is heated until flexible, and then carefully formed around a prefabricated cylinder or sphere to create the curve you're looking for. While your equipment will be quite specific, manufactured deliberately to create this exact curve or bend, it can be an invaluable time saver in an otherwise complex process.
For some processes, metal turning is the only time-friendly method available. Much like wood turning, this process involves spinning the metal and cutting into it, creating even and symmetrical patterns. This can be used for functional or decorative purposes, but it is a very specialised piece of equipment, and may not be of use to most industries.
This process uses electricity to oxidise the surface of the metal, either thinning or thickening the layer on top of the metal. This has the effect of changing the metal's visible colour and can produce some very vibrant results. While this may not necessarily change the functionality of the metal, being able to offer a variety of colours is something that customers in many industries, both as other businesses and end consumers, can appreciate.
With so many options at your fingertips, you can really do almost anything you like with sheet metal. Whether you have the equipment to do this yourself or outsource production to a sheet metal fabricator, you're sure to find a place for at least one of these methods in your manufacturing processes.