The Best Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques the Pros Use

February 16, 2017 | Sheet Metal Fabrication, Welding

Marlin Steel Engineer Operating Press Braking MachineThere are dozens of ways to shape, join, and cut sheet metal—far too many to cover them all in depth in a single post. Today, the team here at Marlin Steel thought they’d share a few of their favorite/best sheet metal fabrication techniques with you!

Technique #1: Resistance Welding

For joining two sheets of stainless steel, few welding techniques produce results on par with resistance welding. In particular, the Marlin Steel team takes advantage of Medium Frequency Direct Current (MFDC) using a computer-controlled welding machine. 

 This IDEAL welding machine can make welds in stainless steel faster than a human eye can blink while minimizing weld burns, spatter, and other deformities associated with manual MIG or TIG welding.

Technique #2: Expanding Metal

Normally, if you want to have open space in a metal object, you’d use a wire mesh, or cut holes into a piece of sheet metal using a CNC punch/laser. However, an alternative way of adding open space is to take sheets or coils of metal and put it through an expanding machine.

The expanding machine stretches out the metal, and a specially-designed “knife” cuts a series of regular shapes into the metal—typically diamond shapes, though hexagons, squares, and others are available. These holes don’t represent lost material, though; the holes are created when the sheet metal stretches around the expansion machine’s “knife.”

Expanded metal is generally stronger than woven wire mesh of comparable thickness, lighter than solid metal sheets, and is less wasteful of raw material than just cutting sheet metal with a punch or laser.

Technique #3: Metal Brake Bending

Any sheet metal manufacturer worth their salt knows about metal brakes and how to use them to make precise bends in sheet metal. Marlin Steel’s manufacturing team uses a Trumpf CNC press brake to automate the process of reaching the perfect angle in a sheet metal form.

This device applies several tons of force to sheet metal to quickly and easily achieve bends of any desired angle.

Technique #4: Laser Cutting

There are times where a piece of metal may accidentally be stretched to the wrong size, or you need a complicated shape in the sheet metal that cannot be achieved by expanding the metal alone.

Here, a laser cutting machine can make a perfectly smooth, stress-free cut in the metal—in whatever shape you may need. This cutting technique is often used in place of CNC punching because it places less physical stress on the material surrounding the hole so the sheet metal is stronger overall.

These are four of the favorite sheet metal fabrication techniques that Marlin’s engineers like to use. However, there are many others, such as metal shrinking, tucking, stamping, and more. Marlin’s team is well-versed in many different metal fabrication techniques to achieve the best possible quality in your custom sheet metal forms. Learn more today!

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