Sheet metal is a versatile and durable, yet lightweight material that can be used to make a variety of things that are used every day. Often, sheet metal is cut and shaped by fabricators to form things like custom ductwork for heating and cooling systems, body panels for cars, or grease traps for restaurant kitchens. The possibilities are endless of the fabricator knows what they are doing.

Picking The Right Sheet Metal For The Job

Before you start working with any sheet metal, you need to be sure that the material you are using is right for the purpose you intend to use it for. Sheet metal is available in different sizes and gauges or thicknesses, and it is important that you get the right one. If the material is too thick and needs to be bent a specific way, you might not be able to get clean bends. Selecting the right size will reduce waste as well. Plan your project before you but any sheet metal so you buy what you need the first time.

The Right Tools For The Job

Working with sheet metal is hard because it requires specific tools. A fabrication shop will have these tools, but if you want to create your own project with sheet metal, you will need to consider getting cutters, a brake (a tool for bending the sheet metal), and, depending on what you are building, tools to allow you to connect the pieces that you are making. Rivets, gas welding, soldering, and screwing the parts together are all common methods used to join parts.

Water Jet Cutting

While you won't have this option at home, if you need the parts to be precisely cut from your sheet metal, you can have a fabrication shop cut them out with a water jet. The cutter uses extremely high-pressure stream of water to pierce the metal and cut very clean lines through the metal. The position of the cutter is controlled by the computer and is programmed much the same as a CNC machine. If you have a CAD drawing for the parts, the waterjet operator can program the computer and cut out the parts very quickly.

Types of sheet metal

Sheet metal is a very generic term, but the main types of sheet metal are aluminum, steel, and stainless steel. It is available in thicknesses from .0063 mm to .5 mm for most materials. It can be bent, rolled, or formed into many shapes and when done right, it is very strong yet lightweight.

To learn more, contact a sheet metal fabrication professional.