Common fabrication processes include stretching, drawing, bending, cutting, punching and spinning. Stretching is the process by which sheet metal is clamped around edges and stretched to make various products, including car doors.
Drawing and deep drawing are stamping processes that make flat sheet metal into various three dimensional forms. Bending involves straining sheet metal by moving it about a linear axis on a neutral plane. Cutting changes the size of the sheet and can also be used to cut the metal into various shapes. Punches, in comparison, perforate the sheet and cut specific shapes out of the metal. Spinning is applied to produce tubular shaped pieces of metal. Further processes can include shearing, decambering, ironing, laser-cutting, perforating, rolling, stamping and wheeling.
All of these fabrication processes result in sheet metal products that are in high demand for their durability, strength and sleek aesthetics. Sheet metal products range in size and material. Examples of sheet metal products include metal cabinets, roof domes, car doors and dryer vents, to name a few. Sheet metal fabricating is a far reaching process whose products serve a vast market.
Due to the wide variety of products and the ability to order custom or standards parts, there is no one technique or process through which sheet metal products are manufactured. In addition, because of the specific function of each product, each piece requires a careful design and precise execution. Modern developments such as CNC, or computer numeric control, help make fabricating metals easier.
CNC machining uses a software program to control the movements of the tools and equipment, resulting in precise designs while reducing material and labor costs. Fabricators can often reuse previously manufactured sheet metal to lower cost. The industries that utilize such products include the food industry, aerospace, automotive, aircraft, construction, storage, telecommunications, computers, military and medical equipment.