The sheet metal manufacturing industry is one of the oldest industries around and it has played a key role in revolutionizing manufacturing as we know it today. In this blog, we will explore the basics of what it takes to turn raw materials into finished products and how modern technology is changing the way sheet metal fabricators do business. So, buckle up, because things are about to get interesting!
1. Bending Processes
Bending processes are a common feature in sheet metal fabrication. The purpose of the process is to bend flat pieces of sheet metal into specific shapes that are useful in the industry. Bending processes involve the use of a variety of machines, including hydraulic presses, thermal presses, and press brakes. These machines use heat or pressure to bend sheet metal in various ways.
One popular bending process is called arc bending. This type of bending utilizes heat for forming sheet metal into curved and circular shapes with a degree radius that ranges from 1/4” up to 12” wide or larger. Other popular types of this technology include press brake forming and rotary draw bending which is used for thicker metal with larger degree radius bends.
It also involves various cutting technologies such as CNC laser cutting, plasma cutting, and waterjet cutting which allow metal fabricators to cut complex parts and intricate designs quickly and accurately from materials like aluminum, steel, stainless steel and other metals used in the industry.
2. Cutting Processes
Common cutting processes include sawing, shearing, blanking, punching and notching. In most cases, metal is cut hot or cold using hand tools or machines. The type of metal and the desired shape are factors in determining which cutting processes are best suited for a particular application.
Sawing is typically performed with a hacksaw – or powered jigsaw – while cold sawing uses abrasive blades on a circular table saw to create a precise cut with minimal waste. Shearing involves using straight-bladed knives to trim excess material around the perimeter of the sheet for proper sizing.
Blanking refers to removing material from an oversized workpiece in order to form an exact-size piece that can be further processed; it is commonly used in stamping operations by punching material from between two dies. Punching creates small holes within the middle of metals when struck with sharp-edged tools, such as drills and dies; it is useful for making perfectly round holes with minimal waste materials. Notching removes unwanted materials from edges of metals such as angles; it’s often done by making incisions into corners at specific angles depending on the desired shape outcome.
3. Finishing Processes
They are applied after the sheet metal has undergone forming and welding to enhance its appearance and performance. Types of finishing include chemical coating, painting, plating electroplating, polishing and honing.
The chemical coating is typically used to protect metals from corrosion as used in shower heads and dishes. Painting can serve both decorative and protective functions. Sheet metal is prepared for painting by degreasing, followed by masking of areas that should not be painted. Painting can also be used to restore a worn look or provide a unique finish not achievable with other means.
Plating involves the deposition of a thin layer of metal on the part or surface area of the sheet metal through an electrolytic galvanic process employing an electrical current. This can improve corrosion resistance or anti-galling properties while adding some surface luster or shine to the product. Examples include chrome plating on motorcycles and cars as well as decorative items such as jewelry.
Polishing uses abrasive compounds like sandpaper that is rubbed against the material surface resulting in scratches that are progressively more fine glossier finish. This process is preferred in applications when low friction surfaces must be maintained, such as brake discs on automobiles or aircraft components made using aluminum alloys with good thermal conductivity.
Honing is closely related to polishing but involves specialized abrasives applied over a small area around critical surfaces to give them precise dimensional accuracy without changing their profile shape or surface roughness too much. Honed parts must also meet stringent quality requirements to ensure smooth operations during operation regardless of how many cycles they are subjected too over long periods of time
Quality Control in Sheet Metal Manufacturing
Quality control is of utmost importance during sheet metal manufacturing. Quality control is approached from multiple degrees as each stage in the fabrication process can enable or hinder the effectiveness of production. The following steps must be taken throughout the formation and conversion processes in a sheet metal factory to ensure quality control is maintained.
1) Proper material selection: Raw materials should be selected according to established criteria in order to ensure their suitability for fabrication processes and their compliance with customer (or manufacturer) specifications.
2) Complete inspection of raw materials: Standard methods of inspecting raw materials should be employed; visual, dimensional and mechanical testing are typically used. Non-acceptable materials are isolated before proper corrective action is specified and carried out.
3) Design review: The design specification should be reviewed with proper authorization prior to manufacturing, including special features such as threading, embossing and forming, and conformance requirements concerning tolerances and dimensions should be properly verified at this time.
4) Fabrication process validation: All equipment used in fabrication must meet required operational standards and logistical qualifications regarding output volume, cycle times and quality objectives. They must also be validated where needed prior to actual production in order to ensure consistency throughout all successive parts fabricated using similar methods and procedures.
5) In-process inspection: Dimensional measurements must be taken periodically during fabrication; these measurements are then compared against established criteria for verification purposes. Visual inspections may also take place depending on the specific characteristics of each part being manufactured or assembled, where any defects can immediately be addressed without further delay or disruption throughout production lines.
6) Product testing: Finished parts or assemblies must undergo all necessary tests according to their intended application before they’re certified suitable for installation in end products or systems. Validation documentation related to product characteristics may also have to be presented with an accompanying certifying authority’s stamp at certain points throughout this process step as well.
It can be formed through cutting techniques such as shearing or laser cutting and forming techniques such as stamping, pressing or bending. The material is then prepared for use on various types of machines, incorporating hardware and automated systems to create components used in many different industries. This manufacturing provides quality components that are essential for a range of applications. As technological advances continue to drive innovation in this sector, it is clear that understanding these fundamental processes will be essential for anyone who wishes to stay at the forefront of the industry.