Cutting And Bending: Sheet Metal Processing

Label:Sheet Metal

Jun 26, 20235040

Cutting And Bending: Sheet Metal Processing

Sheet metal processing is a valuable prototyping and manufacturing method for making strong, functional components such as brackets and housings. However, unlike other manufacturing techniques, sheet metal is actually involved in many different processes. For example, we cut it, shape it, or join the different parts together.


Now, let's talk about the sheet metal processing and the working principle.


What is Sheet Metal Processing?


Sheet metal processing is a set of steps that makes sheet metal into functional components. For this guide, we've broken down the processes into three categories: cutting, deforming, and assembling.


Common sheet metals include steel, stainless steel, aluminum, zinc, and copper. Gauges for these materials typically range from 0.006 to 0.25 inches (0.015 to 0.635 cm). Thin gauges are more malleable, while thick gauges may be better suited for heavy parts with drastic applications.


For parts that are partially flat or hollow, sheet metal processing can be a cost-effective alternative solution for casting and machining. The process is also fast and produces minimal waste of material.


Sheet metal is widely popular in industrial and consumer parts as well as specialized industries such as automotive, aerospace, energy and robotics.




One of the main ways to deal with sheet metal is cutting. In this case, sheet metal processing can be thought as a subtractive manufacturing process (like CNC machining). Usable parts can be made by simply removing parts of material.


Workers can cut sheet metal using a variety of different machines, some of which are unique to sheet metal processing.


One of the key methods of sheet metal cutting is laser cutting. Laser cutters use a powerful laser that is enhanced by a lens or mirror. It is a precise and energy efficient machine for thin or medium gauge sheet metal. However, it may have difficulty penetrating the hardest materials.


Water jet cutting is another way. It uses a high-pressure jet of water (mixed with abrasive substance) to cut sheet metal. Water jet cutters are especially good for cutting low melting point metal sheets because they don't generate the heat that could deform the metal excessively.


The third way is plasma cutting. Plasma cutters create an electrical channel of ionized gas to form a jet of hot plasma that easily penetrates even thick gauge sheet metal. While not as accurate as laser or waterjet cutters, plasma cutters are fast, powerful and inexpensive to set up.


The punching process (sometimes called piercing) uses punches and dies to create precise holes in sheet metal. The metal plate is placed between the two components, and the punch forces itself through the metal to the die. During the punching process, the stamped circular parts from which material is removed become scrap, but these circular parts can also be used as new workpieces: this is called blanking.


The similar device can be used to perforate sheet metal when creating many holes.




Another major task of processing is sheet metal bending. This set of processes encompasses countless ways to alter and manipulate sheet metal without cutting into it.


One of the main deformation processes is sheet metal bending. The machine we uses is called brakes. A sheet metal company can bend sheet metal into V-shapes, U-shapes and channels at angles of up to 120°. Thin sheet metal is easier to bend. The opposite thing can also be done: we can remove horizontal bends from strip-shaped sheet metal parts through the debending process.


The punching is another deformation process, but it can also be considered a subcategory of its own. It involves the use of a hydraulic or mechanical press equipped with tools and dies, which operates similarly to punching, although material does not necessarily have to be removed. Punching can be used for specific tasks such as hemming, drawing, embossing and flanging.


Flow forming is a sheet metal manufacturing process. Unlike other deformation techniques, it uses a lathe to rotate the sheet metal as it is pressed against a tool. The process looks similar to CNC turning or even pottery spinning. It can be used to create circular sheet metal parts, like cones, cylinders, etc.


There are also less known sheet metal deformation processes, such as wheel forming. It creates compound curves in sheet metal, and rolls, in which sheet metal is fed between a pair of rollers to reduce the thickness.


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