Common Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

Male welder wearing helmet working with welding torch in factory, practicing common sheet metal fabrication techniques.
December 18, 2023

Did you know that more than 1.7 million metric tons of steel were produced in the U.S. alone in 2023? With a number like that, it’s easy to see how the metallurgy industry is vital to the overall economy. Metal is fashioned into many useful forms, including beams and poles.

Sheet metal is another common shape that has many uses. Depending on the need, there are multiple fabrication techniques. Read on to learn more about sheet metal fabrication and which type might be right for you.

What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication?

Sheet metal is typically steel, aluminum, or copper. The advantage of steel is that it is stronger and can handle higher temperatures. On the other hand, aluminum is more pliable and lighter. Copper is the easiest to form, and many people prefer its aesthetics.

Fabrication is the method by which a sheet transforms into a different shape. The different sheet metal fabrication techniques are performed by either a sheet metal worker or a machine. There are four major fabrication methods.

The Cutting Method

There are four types of cutting: plasma, laser, waterjet, and shearing. Waterjet cutting involves a high-pressure water stream, with the main advantage being that it doesn’t expose the metals to high temperatures. Shearing is a method that removes the excess material from a sheet. This is the easiest cutting method to perform.

Laser cutting involves the use of a laser to burn or vaporize unwanted metal. This is typically used for finishing, such as smoothing out edges or making signs. The final cutting method is plasma, which uses extremely high heat generated by a gas stream to melt the metal.

The Forming Method

Forming is a type of fabrication process used for making complex shapes and angles. There are many types of machines used to form sheet metal, including dies, brakes, and rollers. As this method is fairly precise, experienced operators are essential.

The Punching Method

The punching method cuts holes out of a sheet. This simple machining method uses a steel punch to make the hole and collects the scrap metal.

The Welding or Joining Method

This method varies as it joins multiple metal components into a single finished product. This method is the most specific and the individual jobs can vary drastically. Performing this fabrication process requires a trained metalworker or welder.

What Else to Look for in a Fabrication Company?

Besides experience with a specific job, you might want to consider a company that is ISO 9001 certified. This certification indicates that a company has an effective quality management system. For a company to maintain its certification, an auditing system and continuing education programs are required.

Are You Ready for Metal Fabrication?

Now that you know about the four major sheet metal fabrication methods, what are you waiting for? Depending on your specific job needs, you can choose from cutting, forming, punching, welding, or joining. Making sure the company has the proper certification is also smart.

Contact New Age Metal Fabricating if you’re ready to get started with all your fabrication needs.