Do you know the metal surround on your kitchen bench top is sheet metal? Also, the roof of your house might have sheet metal, as sheet metal is widely used in construction materials. It doesn’t end here; Sheet metal is used in nearly every industry you can imagine.
The industries sheet metal is used in include Construction, manufacturing, shipping, electronic appliance, aviation, mining, agriculture, catering, medical, and transportation.
Sheet metal is highly robust and resilient, which makes it extremely useful. Because of its strength and durability, it is the appropriate high-strength material for many applications.
By 2025, the worldwide sheet metal for “just” electronics market is expected to reach roughly 3.7 billion US dollars. Imagine the demand it will have in other businesses in the coming years.
You must be curious about how sheet metal is processed and cut; let’s dive into the topic so you can get your answer.
What is sheet metal?
Any metal that can be shaped into flat pieces of varied thicknesses is called “sheet metal.” Cold rolled steel, mild steel, stainless steel, tin, nickel, titanium, aluminum, brass, and copper are all metals used in the sheet metal industry.
History Of Sheet Metal
In the 1870s, the use of sheet metal was first introduced into the American market. They were used in shingle roofing, outside exteriors, and stamped ornamental ceilings. Sheet metal ceilings were generally called tin ceilings at the time.
Shingles and ceilings were popular, and their popularity encouraged extensive sheet metal production. Further improvements in steel sheet metal production in the 1890s piqued the interest of the middle class with the promise of inexpensive, long-lasting, simple-to-install, lightweight, and fireproof products.
In the 1930s, the sheet metal industry started to crumble. However, certain American enterprises, such as the W.F. Norman Corporation, could survive by producing other products until historic preservation programs assisted the rebirth of ornamental sheet metal.
Sheet Metal Materials
Sheet metal is created from several metals; each metal has its distinctive features and benefits. The following is a list of the most popular sheet metal materials used in fabrication.
1. Stainless Steel
Steels containing at least 10.5% chromium, less than 1.2% carbon, and other alloying elements are classified as stainless steels.
To improve the corrosion resistance and mechanical quantities of stainless steel, manufacturers add features such as nickel, molybdenum, titanium, niobium, and manganese in it.
Grade 304: This grade level is the most typical of the three. Despite being strong corrosion resistance, it is still formable and weldable.
Grade 316: It has more corrosion resistance at higher temperatures. Moreover, its strength at high temperatures is more significant than grade 304. It is extensively used in pumps, chemical equipment, and maritime applications.
Grade 410: This stainless steel is heat treatable. Its resistance to corrosion is lower than that of other grades. It is frequently used in utensils.
Grade 430: this popular grade is a cheap option for the grades in Series 300. This is utilized when excellent corrosion resistance is not the main criterion—the most common grade for appliance goods with a brushed finish.
Aluminum is among the most accessible metals in the world, accounting for more than 8% of the planet’s core mass. Moreover, It is also the third most plentiful chemical element on Earth, after oxygen and silicon.
Pure aluminum does not exist in nature since it rapidly bonds with other elements. Formally, aluminum was produced for the first time in 1824, but it took another fifty years for people to understand how to make it on a large scale. It is well-known for its adaptability, extensive range of alternatives, affordability, and other characteristics.
Grade 1100-H14: This grade of aluminum is fairly pure and resistant to the effects of the weather. Moreover, its high chemical is flexible enough for deep drawing. This grade of aluminum is weldable but weak in strength compared to other qualities of aluminum. This grade is most frequently utilized in the production of chemical processing equipment, jewelry, and light reflectors.
Grade 3003-H14: it is moldable and inexpensive. Moreover, It is resistant to corrosion and weldable. It’s widely used in mailboxes, cabinets, tanks, fan blades, Stampings, and spun and drawn parts.
Grade 5052-H32: It is more robust and formable. Both its resistance to corrosion and its ability to be welded are exceptional. It is used in tanks and pressure vessels.
Grade 6061-T6: is a popular structural aluminum alloy that has been heat-treated. It is more robust, corrosion resistant, and weldable, but not much formable. Its strength is diminished when it is welded, however. It plays an important role in the manufacturing process of contemporary aeroplanes.
Brass is a copper and zinc alloy with trace amounts of other metals such as tin, arsenic, and lead. Corrosion in many alloys can result in losing the alloy’s more reactive component, leaving the less reactive part behind.
Locks, hinges, gears, axles, ammunition chambers, zippers, plumbing, hoses connections, valves, and electric plugs and sockets are all examples of applications where brass is still widely employed.
Sheet Metal Laser Cutting Processes
Laser cutting sheet metal is a thermal process. The process includes cutting out sections of a metal sheet with a laser beam. There are three primary methods for cutting sheet metal. Let’s go over those three options.
1. Laser Beam Fusion Cutting Process
This cutting involves the use of an inert cutting gas. That gas is often nitrogen or argon, To force the molten material from the cutting flame. Using an inert gas prevents oxidation at the cutting edge while not interfering with the process. The method is appropriate for flat and thin sheets. Furthermore, the procedure is suitable for circumstances where the content must meet high visual criteria while requiring minimal post-processing.
2. Laser Beam Flame Cutting Process
This process of Flame cutting involves the use of oxygen gas. Oxygen gas expels the molten material. The process creates an exothermic reaction, which increases the overall energy input of the operation. The method is suited for cutting mild steel and other sheet metals and fusible materials such as ceramics.
3. Laser Beam Sublimation Process
A laser is used in the procedure to vaporize sections of material with less melting. Inert gases like helium, nitrogen, or argon are used as cutting gas in fusion cutting, ensuring that the cutting edges are devoid of oxidants. Despite its slowness, it generates high-quality edges for precision cutting.
There are numerous advantages to cutting sheet metal with a laser. Many other cutting technologies cannot compete with the accuracy and precision with which the laser melts and evaporates materials. Moreover, Laser cutters allow for the utilization of a significant percentage of the fabricating materials without causing any damage to them.