Sheet metal fabrication is the engineering of a sheet metal into products or structures by a range of procedures such as cutting, bending, welding and assembly. Nowadays, many of these processes can be carried out by using high tech equipment, but some of the more traditional techniques are still the best for many requirements.
Today, sheet metal fabrication is carried out by engineers who are highly skilled in one or two particular facets of the fabrication process. From design through to welding and on to assembly, each part needs particular skills or expertise. Together, the skills of these engineers result in a high quality product.
Before production can begin, the customer and the engineer will work together to develop the product in line with specifications.
- Computer Aided Design (CAD). Customers may have their own electronic drawings or may just have a rough sketch of their product. Design engineers will take these drawings and use CAD software to produce 3D designs of the product.
- Once drawings have been approved, engineers will work closely with customers to produce a prototype. This prototype can then be fully checked and tested to ensure that it is fit for the customer’s requirements.
There are several factors that will dictate what processes will be used to engineer the final product. For example, what the product is and its intended use, as well as the size and shape. There are a number of processes, which include:
- A sheet metal fabrication company will have a team of welders who are qualified in the fields of MIG (metal inert gas), TIG (tungsten inert gas), and spot welding techniques. These highly skilled people will hold coded welder certification which ensures that all welding is of high quality and complies with European standards for welding competence.
- Laser cutting. Laser cutting allows for precision cutting which makes it ideal for complex or oddly shaped designs. It also has the advantages of minimal material warping and gives edges which are high quality, hygienic and clean.
- Bending and punching. Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machinery can be programmed with a design which can be used to bend, punch and form thousands of components and assemblies with complete accuracy. CNC press brakes are used to bend sheets of up to 4 metres long and 130 tons.
- Metal sheets are passed through pairs of rolls to reduce the thickness of the metal and to ensure uniformity of thickness.
- Precision machining including milling and drilling is an important part of the process. Engineers will carry out intricate machining to ensure that the product is engineered to exact specifications.
- Polishing and bead blasting. These processes are carried out to ensure that the metal has a consistent finish, without unsightly streaking or surface contamination. It also helps to provide a good key for any paint finishes required.
- If working with stainless steel or aluminium, the product is often left unpainted however, other sheet metal fabrications will need to be painted to give either a decorative or protective finish. Spray systems are used to give a consistent paint finish, even for complex components.
- Once components have been produced, a team will assemble those parts by either welding, riveting, using threaded fasteners, or even bending to form a crimped seam.
C H Barnett is a sheet metal fabrication company based in the West Midlands and have been supplying high quality to companies for over 60 years. We are able to offer a comprehensive fabrication service from design through to delivery regardless of size or quantity.
If you would like to find out more about our sheet metal fabrication services, please browse our website. If you would like help with your particular project, please contact us on 0121 773 5222 or complete your details on the contact page.