Sheet metal fabrication in the construction industry
Sheet metal fabrication is the process of transforming sheets of aluminum or steel into metal forms or products. Different procedures and methods are used to curve and form metal, designed for a lot of applications. Sheet metal fabrication processes include laser cutting, water jet, plasma cutting, magnetic brakes, hydraulic brakes, punching, stamping, and welding.
Nowadays, you can hardly find a market sector that doesn’t use sheet metal fabrication at some point in their production process. Sheet metal fabrication exists to tailor designs and produce specific components and materials necessary for a wide range of industries.
Among other applications, the use of sheet metal fabrication is really important and beneficial in modern-day manufacturing, building, and construction industries. It’s also used throughout a variety of sectors including car manufacturing, tools, agriculture, aircraft parts, catering, mining, shipping, medical and electronic equipment, and construction components.
If you are new to the building or construction sector, you will have to understand the advantages of sheet metal fabrication, the significance of sheet metal, which methods to use, and what materials.
Benefits Of Sheet Metal In Construction
As a construction material, sheet metal offers many advantages. It’s well-known for its strength, and it can be fabricated to meet constructional elements’ specs. Sheet metal is also highly resistant to moisture, sun, and corrosion. Its lightweight, durable and pliant nature allows it to be cut and shaped into highly accurate building components.
From a lifecycle standpoint, sheet metals have a broad range of useful qualities. They are reusable, easily repairable, and long-lasting, which makes them perfect for green building standards. In fact, around 93% of structural steel in the U.S. is composed of recycled material. Its top-quality, flexibility, and durability make sheet metal cost-efficient for both small and large applications.
Sheet Metal Fabrication Methods Used In Construction
One of the major categories of sheet metal fabrication methods is sheet metal deformation. This group of methods contains countless ways to transform and manipulate sheet metal without cutting it into it. One of the leading deformation methods is sheet metal bending.
Stamping is another deformation method. It involves the use of a mechanical or hydraulic stamping machine equipped with a die and tool. The stamping process can be used for specific tasks like drawing, curling, flanging, embossing, and hemming.
Spinning is a sheet metal fabrication procedure, and unlike the other deformation methods, it uses a turning lathe to rotate sheet metal while it’s being pressed against a tool. The process is useful for creating rounded sheet metal parts: cones, cylinders, etc. The least common sheet metal deformation method is wheeling. It’s used to make complex curves in sheet metal, where sheet metal is catered between a pair of roller cylinders to decrease its thickness.
One of the main ways to handle sheet metals is to cut them. In that sense, sheet metal fabrication can be considered a reductive manufacturing procedure because usable parts can be formed by removing portions of the material. Manufacturers cut sheet metal by using different pieces of equipment, which are unique to sheet metal fabrication.
One of the fundamental methods for cutting sheet metal is laser cutting. A laser cutter uses a high-powered laser with a lens or mirror to intensify it. That’s an energy-efficient and accurate machine suitable for medium or thin gauges of sheet metal but sometimes struggles to penetrate the toughest materials.
Sheet metal deformation and cutting are two methods of forming sheet metal. The third way is assembly, either by utilizing common fasteners or by different techniques. Assembly is not constantly considered a fabrication process. However, the assembly of diverse components of sheet metal parts (using bolts, fasteners, rivets, and screws) is an essential part of the entire manufacturing process.
Best Types Of Sheet Metals For Construction
The variety of sheet metal forming procedures allows for products to be made from different metals. Some of the most frequently used materials are the following:
Although lower in strength, aluminum is lightweight but highly resistant to corrosion and water. It’s a low-maintenance material that may be lacquered anodized in order to meet design specs. As a flexible material, you can use it for outdoor facades, walls, roofing, doors, windows, and as a finish for architectural components like shelving.
Stainless steel is also resistant to corrosion and easy to fabricate. It’s usually used as a structural element to meet engineering requirements. Stainless steel is less likely to deform, warp and scratch, which makes it a great choice for sterile and sanitary surroundings. You can also use it in roofing materials, handrails, cladding, or water management systems.
Copper And Brass
Copper is a versatile, lightweight material that is also corrosion-resistant and easy to form. Its flexibility makes it useful for plumbing, roofing, gas, or water distribution. Its low-maintenance and lasting qualities make it a good material for MEP systems. It’s used for decorative or exterior purposes as well. However, brass (an alloy of copper) has more strength and better corrosion-resistance and deformability qualities.
As technology advances, new fabrication methods are recognized and applied to provide manufacturers better opportunities to design and produce metal parts or products. In the construction sector, sheet metal fabrication is exceptionally vital, and sheet metal parts are becoming more and more common for construction processes.