Which Methods Are Best For Forming Sheet Metal?

From home construction and manufacturing to automobiles and machinery, there’s no shortage of industries that rely on sheet metal to create products. Distinguishable by its thin, flat shape, sheet metal is widely coveted due to its durability, versatility, and low material costs. Manufacturers can make it from a variety of different metals — these are typically types of steel, such as:

  • Stainless steel
  • Structural steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Carbon steel

Thanks to its high strength and cost-effective properties, nearly every metal manufacturing business is interested in sheet metal. But before you can enjoy its many advantages, you have to create your product. Here are some of the best steel fabrication methods:

Bending

Often used by machine shops and experts, bending is one of the most popular metal stamping methods out there. During this process, the sheet metal is laid across a safety block. Press brakes are then used to rework the metal, making it conform to the shape of the block. Different shapes you can achieve include:

  • V shapes
  • U shapes
  • Angular shapes

Ironing

Ironing is a popular steel fabrication method used to obtain a consistent thickness across the metal. To achieve this, the sheet metal is forced in between two separate blocks, where it’s compressed until it reaches the desired thickness. Ironing is most commonly done on aluminum and used to create aluminum cans.

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting is one of the more modern sheet metal fabrication methods available. As the name suggests, it involves using a laser to burn holes and cut into the metal. Advantages of lasers include:

  • Speed
  • Precision
  • Efficiency

Thanks to the help of computer technology, lasers can be set to an exact speed and precision level, resulting in quick, highly accurate cuts. It’s also a largely automated process, which reduces the need for physical labor.

Hot and Cold Rolling

During hot rolling, the sheet metal or steel is heated until it is above recrystallization temperature (or the temperature at which the structure of the metal changes). This makes the metal easier to work with and reshape into things like railroad rails.

Cold rolled steel is also achieved by changing the structure of the metal. However, it relies on rollers that compress the metal to increase its strength rather than heat. This process is more labor-intensive than hot rolling and produces thinner sheets of metal.

Metal Injection Molding

For years, injection molding has been used to reshape plastic — now, manufacturers are bringing the unique concept into metal forming. During this process, a powder made with metal is melted and injected into a mold, where it is left to cool and form. The ability to create complex products at a fast rate has contributed to the popularity of this specific steel fabrication method.

Contact Our Steel Experts Today!

If you have an upcoming infrastructure project, it’s important that you contact an expert steel fabrication company to help you. At PennFab, Inc., we offer steel fabrication, welding, and assembly services that can meet any of your needs. Our priorities lie in safety and quality — you can trust us to deliver exemplary, functional projects that comply with all standard safety guidelines.

Learn more about how we can help you by contacting us today!