Everything you need to know about Sheet Metal Fabrication

sheet metal fabrication

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Sheet metal fabrication is an industry with wide applications. From home accessories to machinery and tools, you can find hundreds of components prepared with fabrication in daily life. The versatility and flexibility of metal fabrication make it common in major industries. This guide has collected ample information on designing, forming, assembling, and finishing techniques for metal fabrication. Advancement in fabrication technology has provided a wide array of options. So, you will also identify the advantages and drawbacks of sheet metal fabrication. 

What is sheet metal fabrication?

Sheet metal fabrication involves processing the flat metal sheets into desired parts. Sheet metal fabrication includes the folding, bending, cutting, and finishing the metal to get the best-desired products. Many metals, like steel, aluminum, tin, brass, copper, etc., are used in fabrication. The selection of material depends upon the requirements of the products. Heavy-duty parts like nuts and automobile parts require thick gauge metal. At the same time, lightweight products need the selection of thin metals. 

In addition, professionals choose various techniques to fabricate the metal. This article has gathered approximately all techniques used in the fabrication process. However, it depends upon the criteria of the manufacturing process.

Diversity of Sheet Metal Applications

You cannot find any appliance or home accessory without fabricated metal parts. A diverse range of sheet metal is used in numerous industries. The malleability and durability of sheet metal fabrication make it popular among many industries. Here is the most common usage of the metal fabrication mentioned:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Construction
  • Lightning
  • Renewable energy resources
  • Telecommunication
  • Electronics
  • Heavy machinery  

To understand the true applications of the sheet metal process, we have grouped the sheet metal usage to elaborate on it.

Stainless steel

This metal is ideal for surgical instruments, kitchen accessories, instruments, cookware, sinks, cutlery, valves, piping, and automobile moving parts. Stainless steel is a non-corrosive metal that keeps the products safer from dampness.


Though aluminum is lightweight, it offers superb durability to any product. Its extensive standout features make it a favorite metal for manufacturers. However, aluminum is frequently used in parts, instruments, doors, windows, and engineering work. 

Cold-rolled Steel

The cold rolled steel is the fabrication process that occurs at room temperature. The sheet metals of 3mm gauge create an awesome surface for multiple products. The products that require smooth finishing often use cold–rolled steel. Large structures like cabinets, garages, and sheds are common examples of cold-rolled steel.  

Hot Rolled steel

Hot–rolled steel offers quick bending, forming, and cutting at high temperatures. Thus, it lowers the cost of production with fast manufacturing and money-valued features. After rolling, metal may change its dimension and weight. However, both hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel materials cost less and prepare budget-friendly products.  

Benefits of sheet metal fabrication 

The metal fabrication process is highly beneficial to the manufacturers and business. Here are some of its advantages listed out:

Flexible designs

The fabrication process can deal with any type of design. Businesses can make changes to the end product’s structure and function. Computerized layouts are more flexible to cater to the unique needs of any industry.

Customized finishing options

Different industries demand different types of finishing techniques. The fabrication process offers a wider range of finishing options [including powder coating, galvanizing, painting, plating, etc.

High accuracy

Sheet metal fabrication creates more efficient and high-end products. Advanced technologies have speeded up prototype manufacturing. Cutting technologies can optimize the process to get faster production.

Automated manufacturing of sheet fabrication increases the accuracy. Just entering commands into computerized machines, the machines will start working precisely. Thus, human errors and mistakes are easily avoided.

Versatile techniques 

A wide range of techniques offer versatility in products. Manufacturers can use different techniques to achieve the desired shape and design. Bunching, cutting, stamping, rolling, and other fabrication techniques make the final product precise and up to the design standards. 

Wider material options

You can select a wide range of materials as per choice and requirement of the end product. Popular metal sheet fabrication materials include stainless steel, copper, brass, and aluminum.

Fast production

The computerized system of fabrication makes it completely automated. Automated fabrication increases the speed of manufacturing and supply. 

Sheet metal fabrication processes – A brief overview

From design to the final finishing of the products, manufacturers apply different techniques on sheet metal to fabricate it. Not all metal fabrication processes pass through every technique. Some techniques are suitable for certain products, while others are not. To get in-depth knowledge about the fabrication process, there is a need to understand different skills and techniques. Have a look at them: 

Cutting techniques

Cutting techniques allow the sheet metal to divide into parts. The goal is to get the desired piece of metal for the final product. Usually, techniques are divided into two categories:

Cutting without shear: Laser cutting, water jet cutting, and plasma cutting

Cutting with Shear: Shearing, blanking, punching, and sawing

Laser Cutting

Laser cutting involves a thermal process using focused laser beams. Laser cutting involves two simultaneous processes. A high-powered focused beam is initially thrown on metal to cut the desired part. At the same time, a sharp cutting nozzle uses a laser beam to evaporate the metal from the desired part. Blowing gas in the nozzle prevents the processing head from evaporation. The laser cutting method also removes extra material from the sheet metal.

The laser cutting technique uses stainless steel, steel, and non-ferrous metals. However, this technique may damage the lightweight material like aluminum. For sensitive metals, fiber lasers are used.

Laser cutters are popular for their high-end cutting and precision. It prevents the metal from damage while cutting. However, this process is costly and consumes high energy and gas resources. 

Water jet cutting

Water jet cutting uses a pressurized water stream to cut the metal. A water pressure of nearly 60,000 psi at the velocity of 610m/s is applied to cut any type of sheet metal. Pure water jet cutting is the most suitable procedure for cutting soft metals like rubber, fabrics, and metal foil sheets. Similarly, abrasive water jet cutters go for cutting hard metals like steel, aluminum, copper, and carbon steel. 

The biggest advantage of the water jet cutter is that it offers a smooth finish. However, high pressure can cause some bending near the cutting material. So, it is better to use supportive components while cutting.

Plasma cutting

Plasma cutting is also a thermal cutting process that uses plasma or ionized gas. Plasma allows the metal to melt sooner. Plasma cutters are used for electrical conductive metals. Aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass, and carbon steel are ideally cut with the plasma cutting. However, it increases the cost of the cutting process. 

Plasma cutters are beneficial to increase accuracy and precision. In repeated manufacturing processes, it offers effective cutting edges. Another advantage is that it can cut high-end metals with low-heat input, reducing the cost of the cutting process.  

A drawback of plasma cutter is that it leaves large burrs and rough surfaces. Moreover, the cut area carries a highly oxidized zone. However, industries that do not have strict criteria for sheet metal cutting choose this method. 


Shearing refers to the cuts in the metal at different parts. A heavy force is applied on different spots of the metal to cut it; shearing is often used for soft and mild-hard metals like copper, brass, and aluminum. Shearing leaves the metal pieces with uneven edges. Businesses that do not need neat cutting often use this low-cost cutting process.


Blanking is a popular method to get a sheet metal piece from a large metal sheet stock. Blanking involves two components: punch and die. A die holds the metal sheet while a punch applies force for the blanking. Finally, the material removed from the stock is the desired sheet metal, while the left is a blank stock.

Blanking is a slow-cutting method that ensures accuracy and better dimensional control. However, the advanced blanking tools increase the cutting budget compared to punching and other traditional techniques. 


Punching is often considered the opposite of blanking. Like shearing, punching also adds holes in the large metal sheet stocks. After applying punch force, the removed material from the large metal stock is known as scrap. On the other hand, the material left on the die is the final component. Punching facilitates metal cutting by creating several shapes and sizes of holes. 

Punching is much faster than blanking. The metal components produced by punching are more precise and accurate.


With the sawing tool, the metal is cut gradually to produce small cuts in the metal. The saw tooth separates small metal chips with friction and shear force. Band saws come in different shapes and dimensions. The bend saw teeth are ideal for cutting non-ferrous metals like copper, brass, aluminum, etc. Band saws come into two categories:

  • Horizontal band saw suits best to cut the larger pieces of metal as per requirement. 
  • Vertical band saw facilitates the complex cutting procedure that requires contours and other ups and downs. 

Sawing offers more straight and precise cutting. The cutting process has become more fine and accurate with advanced sawing tools like dual-bearing, blade tracking adjustments, and blade-guided rollers. It creates less scrap and prevents the production of waste. For fabrication, it is a cost-effective cutting technique.

Sometimes, it is difficult to maintain contact and distance between the workpiece and the sawing tool, which may lead to inconsistent cutting. 

Exploring the Sheet metal forming process

Sheet metal forming techniques depend on the custom production of the fabricated parts or components. Let us explore the applications of the forming techniques. 


Bending refers to the deformation of metal to a certain angle. A high force is applied to get the desired bends. Bending involves press brakes and rolling machines to keep the bend angle in its desired option. A wide variety of rolling machines is available to create the custom bends. Here, the most common bending methods are listed:


The metal is placed on the V-die to apply the desired bending punch. V-bending is a good option for bending steel plates.  

Roll Bending

Roll bending turns the sheet metal pieces into a rolled or curved shape. This bending process involves pressing the brake, a hydraulic press, and three rollers in different dimensions. It is the most suitable method for producing cones, pipes, and hollow-shaped components.  

Rotary Bending

When you need sharp edges metal with bends, rotary bending is ideal. It is mostly used to bend the metals up to 90 degrees or more. 

Bending suits malleable metals like spring steels, aluminum 5052, and copper. At the same time, it is difficult to bend metals like brass, bronze, and titanium. Bending is a budget-friendly technique for mild to low-volume metal fabrication.


To create a dual-layer metal sheet, hemming is used. Hemming commonly uses two types of dies. The metal sheet is bent and put on the V-die in the first step. In the second step, it is cut and placed on a flat die. Thus, manufacturers hem the metal and get the desired shape. 

Hemming significantly improves the production edges and appearance. However, due to the deformation, the material may change its dimensions. So, manufacturers need to be careful at this stage.  


Rollers are passed on the metal pieces to keep the thickness of the metal uniform. Rolling processes usually involve hot-rolling and cold rolling. Hot rolling is a thermal process at high temperatures, while cold rolling is at room temperature. 

You can observe the rolling techniques in Wheels, wheel rims, pipes, tubes, and other curved or rolled parts. Rolling is ideal to go with complex cross-section designs. It is the best-suited process for the bulk production. Its high efficiency and accuracy make it a favorite for most curved or rolled parts.


Stamping is a cold technique. It requires stamping presses and dies to get the desired component. Steel, stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum are the most commonly used metals in stamping.

Stamping uses punching, bending, and embossing methods to get the desired products. Stamping is applied to get the complex structures with shorter processes. Stamping is one of the most popular techniques. The reason is its fast production and usage of fewer tools and machines. 

Metal Spinning

Metal spinning is used to create symmetrical hollow discs. Metal is placed on the tailstock of the machine and spinning mandrel. Upon the metal spinning machine, spinning rollers turn the metal shape into the shape of the mandrel.

Metal spinning is the most suitable technique for creating hollow-disc structures. It also encompasses stamping, bending, and other required techniques. The purpose is to increase the efficiency of mass production.

Sheet Metal Welding Techniques

The sheet metal welding process joins two or more metal parts by adding filler through the machine. Welding techniques involve high temperatures to get the desired results. Here are the common welding techniques for the metals heat fabrication mentioned:

Stick welding

Shield metal arc welding welds the metal with electric current and electrode stick. The welding machine can work on both AC and DC power resources. As electric arc produces nearly 6300 F temperature, it is essential to be careful while welding thin metals. High-speed welding is time efficient, leading to fast and high production.

Metal Inert gas welding

The gas metal arc welding uses a gas shield and wire electrodes to achieve welding efficiency. The inert gas welding offers precision and speed in the welding procedure. It is available both manually and automated. Automated inert gas welding prevents the weld splatters. However, manufacturers do not consider it suitable for heavy metal welding. 

Tungsten inert gas welding

With tungsten electrodes, this welding process uses a short arc to weld heavy metals. Moreover, tungsten welding keeps the welding area from dampness and environmental contamination. With high-end welding control, tungsten inert gas is the best process for non-ferrous metals like copper and aluminum. And titanium. 

Metal sheet fabrication finishing or coating techniques

Finishing enhances the final outlook of the fabricated part. Moreover, finishing or coating techniques keep the parts from corrosion and climatic exposure. The coating also increases the resilience of the parts. Here are some common fabricated coating processes mentioned. You can select which is the most suitable as per exposure and requirement of the product.

Powder coating

Powder coating is often used to enhance the outlook of the metal parts. The availability of powder coating enables its usage for commercial purposes. However, it is not as efficient as anodizing and nickel plating.  


The anodizing coating technique creates the oxidizing layer on the top of the metal surface. It is one of the most efficient processes with superb durability. Anodizing prevents the surface from corrosion and climatic exposure.  

Nickel plating

Instead of electrolytic exposure, nickel plating uses chemical bombardment over the metal. Nickel plating makes the surface smoother and covers evenly. 

Gold and silver plating

Gold is an excellent conductor that prevents the parts from corrosion, tarnish, and oxidation. Due to premium quality solder ability, gold utility in plating increases daily. Gold plating comes in different classes as per the concentration and purity of the gold. 

Silver is comparatively more effective than gold. Silver has several benefits over gold. Silver is a cheaper source as compared to gold. However, silver-coated sheet metals are more prone to oxidation. Low oxidation resistance may spoil the coating sooner. 

Some potential drawbacks associated with Metal sheet fabrication

High cost

Metal fabrication requires high capital for tools and machines. Stamping and rolling techniques often require custom machines and tools to be prepared on order. Sometimes, every fabrication process has unique needs and requires custom tools per manufacturing requirements. So, manufacturers have to invest capital amounts for the production.

Complicated operations

Metal sheet fabrication often involves complicated processes. Sometimes, a technique uses multiple methods to reach work efficiency. However, complicated bending and rolling often increase the challenges in the manufacturing process.

Tips to avoid high-cost fabrication processes

Several techniques of the fabrication process cost more than other techniques. Here are the tips and toes to avoid the high cost of production. 

  • Use simple designs

Complicated designs often require custom tools and equipment. It significantly increases the upfront cost of the fabrication projects.

  • Avoid welding and plating.

Welding and plating are two costly processes. Other assembling methods can save money on production. Moreover, for finishing, plating is one of the most expensive methods. Other finishing techniques like powder coating and chemical painting cost less. You can increase water resistance and climate protection with low-cost but effective finishing techniques. 

  • Use low-gauge sheets

Usually, manufacturers prefer low gauge sheets. Standard gauge sheets are often readily available in the market. If you choose unique gauge metal, order it in advance. Moreover, it also increases the overall cost of the production.  

  • Go with the common processes.

Instead of choosing out-of-the-box options, going with the common processes is better. From designing to forming and assembling, you can opt for cost-effective processes.

Wrap up

You might have known essential concepts and techniques used in metal fabrication. Hope this guide will help the manufacturers and businesses to choose the best techniques. When you are new in the manufacturing field, you need to understand all tips and toes associated with the field. Processes and techniques mentioned in this guide play a crucial role in manufacturing and customized production. Before proceeding with your latest project, you can get basic guidelines from this blog. It is better to go around all types of information to deliver your best in metal fabrication.

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