When people talk about sheet metal fabrication, they are discussing the process that is used to manipulate materials to create a component that will be used in an end product. It involves a material being cut, formed and finished. Sheet metal fabrication is used in pretty much every sort of manufacturing field, notably in medical equipment, computers, electronics and appliances. Essentially, anything that is constructed out of or contains metal will have gone through these processes:
There are a number of ways that sheet metal can be cut into smaller pieces – shearing involves a cutting machine using shear stress to cut down a large piece of material into smaller ones; electrical discharge machining (EDM) involves conductive materials being melted with a spark from a charged electrode; abrasive cutting involves the use of grinders or saws to cut through material; and laser cutting involves the use of a laser for achieving precise cuts in sheet metal.
After the metal has been cut, it will be formed into what shape is desired for the component it is needed for. There are several techniques of forming that can be used – rolling involves flat pieces of metal being shaped over and over with a roll stand; bending and forming involves the material being manipulated by hand; stamping involves the use of tools to stamp designs into the sheet metal; punching involves holes being put into the surface; and welding involves one piece of material being joined to another using heat.
Once the metal has been formed, it will be passed through a finishing process to ensure it is ready for use. This will involve the metal being sharpened or polished with an abrasive to remove or eliminate rough spots a