Basics about Sheet Metal Formation and Commonly used Materials

Sheet metal formation is the process of cutting metal into different shapes and sizes depending on the use. Sheet metal fabrication goes as back as 5000 BC and is common with lightweight products and versatile shapes. Sheet metal products find their application mostly in the building and construction industry where they are used for roofing. For sheet metal products such as iron that have high magnetic permeability, they are used to make magnetic products such as electric machines and transformers. Traditionally, metal sheet products were used to make plate armor that used to be worn by soldiers for protection during the war.

Commonly used Materials
Stainless steel
The stainless steel used in sheet metal formation exists in different grades. The common grades include grade 304, grade 316, grade 410 and grade 430. All these grades have different strengths and capabilities. Stainless steel is known for being corrosion free, having high weldability and the ability to maintain its form. Common applications of grade 316 sheet metal from stainless steel include valves, pumps, marine equipment and chemical equipment. As grade 410 cannot withstand a lot of heat, it is used to make cutlery equipment.

Aluminum is another material used in the sheet metal formation. Unlike iron and stainless steel, aluminum has its associated benefits that include flexibility, a wide range of options and it’s also cost effective. Aluminum exists in four grades that consist of 6061-T6, 5052-H32, and 3003-H14and 1100-H14. Aluminum is also advantageous as it has the capability of deep drawing. Common applications of aluminum in sheet metal include electronics, pressure valves, mail boxes, and tanks. Aluminum finds its greatest application in modern aircraft structures especially the construction of airplane fuselages.

Sheet Metal Formation Processes
Different methods are used to convert the metal to the desired shape and size. The most common methods being used include hemming, hydroforming, expanding, seaming and bending. Expanding is used to create hollow products to allow the flow of air and water. Hemming is a sheet metal formation method meant to reinforce the edge of a metal. On the other hand, seaming is meant to join two metals by folding them together.Laser cutting is the use of computer guidance to reduce scrap metal during the metal formation process. Laser light is focused on the material being cut while oxygen and nitrogen is also focused on the material through nozzles. This is the most precise metal forming process. Click for more information about sheet metal formation processes.

Other common methods used in the sheet formation process include perforating, press brake forming, laser cutting, ironing, and punching. Unlike the common notion that stainless steel and iron are the only products used in sheet metal formation, there are other materials that have proved their ability, and they include silver, platinum, gold, brass and tin. Copper, titanium, and nickel have also being used in the past to produce sheet metal. The type of material you chose will depend on the material being made and the cost you are willing to incur.