7 Tips to Understand the Sheet Metal Fabrication Process

CNC Laser cutting of metal with sparks, modern industrial technology. Small depth of field.

Sheet metal fabrication involves the process of using thin sheets of metal that can be shaped to fulfill the needs of an application. This is a wildly popular aspect of metalwork as it plays such a huge role in so many different applications across many different industries. 

Let’s take a deep dive into the 7 tips that will help you gain a deeper understanding of what sheet metal fabrication is – and the benefits they bring.

The Metal Fabrication Process

There are many steps involved in the metal fabrication process. Those who take metal formed into thin sheet-like pieces and form it into something incredible often have a lot of training and developed skill. 

It is important to note, however, that every person does not use the same processes. It can vary from one to the next depending on the project or application. 

1. Cutting 

Cutting is almost always a part of metal fabrication because these sheets often come in pieces that are too big for applications. Sometimes they will need to be cut in half or even into small sections. 

Cutting can be done using all different types of machinery, including those that are new and high-tech for a computerized cut – or using lasers and plasma torches. It really comes down to the metal worker handling the cutting, their skills, and the application itself. 

2. Welding

Another very common sheet metal process involves welding. This is used to bring two separate metal parts together. Welding can bring together any type of metal and form and bond between them. 

Welding uses heat to soften the metals in the desired area so that they can harden together and form one unit. 

3. Machining 

Machining uses various tools, most commonly a lathe, to form the metal into its ideal shape for the project. This is often used for the edges or corners, creating certain designs or meeting certain measurements. Holes and other cuts may be created using machining techniques, too. 

4. Punching

Like machining, punching is getting the metal ready for its finished product. So any holes may need to be punched for future things like latches and other fasteners. There are many different reasons why metal workers choose to punch through these sheets using drills– it all depends on the application. 

5. Folding

Folding is a complicated process of metal fabrication in which the surface of the metal is bent and manipulated to form an ideal shape for a project. The degree to which this folding occurs – and how it is done – will depend on the facility where it takes place. Folding almost always requires the use of heavy machinery. 

6. Stamping

Stamping is like punching without coming through on the other side. The idea behind it is to raise it so that certain images, letters, or shapes can be seen. Just like its name suggests, it is very much like stamping the metal. 

7. Casting

Last but certainly not least is casting. This is a very common process in which metal is melted and poured into molds. While fabrication processes can create many designs and shapes, some are too intricate. Being able to melt and pour the metal into molds that harden makes this process much more feasible. 

Benefits of Sheet Metal Fabrication

Sheet metal fabrication comes with a lot of benefits. 

  • Strength and durability —  it can stand the test of time when used in many applications
  • Can easily be shaped to meet any need without worry about cracking it
  • Metal is sustainable which can be beneficial if you are choosing to be more responsible in your manufacturing
  • Long-lasting and cost-effective, requiring very little care and maintenance
  • The ability to handle high-heat applications

While plastic is often a secondary option in many of these processes, it just cannot compare to what you get with metal – and the many processes that can be used to give you the desired outcome. 

Atlas Bronze provides solutions to all your metal needs and has established itself as a leading distributor of bronze, copper, brass, iron, sintered products, self-lubricated bushings, and wear plates in the United States.