Aluminum is a versatile material that can be worked using a variety of manufacturing processes. It is commonly utilized in sheet metal fabrication operations to make various parts and products for a wide range of industries. The resulting components and structures are, among other things, high-strength, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant.
The following article provides an overview of the aluminum sheet metal fabrication process. It discusses why you should use aluminum for sheet metal fabrication operations, what sheet metal fabrication entails, and how fabricated aluminum sheet metal components are used.
Why Use Aluminum in Sheet Metal Fabrication Operations?
There are many benefits to using aluminum sheet metal in fabrication projects. For example:
- It is corrosion-resistant. In contrast to fabricated steel, aluminum has a corrosion-resistant surface that helps protect components from corrosive compounds and conditions. This quality is vital for many metal parts and products in the aerospace, automotive, marine, medical, and other similar industries.
- It is wear-and-tear resistant. If the project cost is the prime concern, project managers can choose between aluminum or plastic. However, aluminum is the better choice if durability is also important. Compared to plastic, the material offers better resistance to damage and degradation from heat, impact, and other standard operational and environmental conditions.
- It is lightweight. The weight of a material can increase the lead time for its fabrication operations. Since aluminum is relatively lightweight compared to other construction materials (e.g., steel), it is much easier and, consequently, cheaper to handle during production operations.
- It is flexible. Aluminum sheet metal is suitable for use in the manufacture of both structural and mechanical components.
What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication?
Sheet metal fabrication is a broad term that encompasses all of the processes used to turn sheet metal into a finished, functional part or product. The processes may shape, add, or remove material from the workpiece to create the desired component or structure. Common sheet metal fabrication operations include:
Forming is a fabrication process that utilizes force to bend or stretch the sheet metal into the desired shape. It does not involve the addition or removal of any material from the workpiece. Common forming techniques include bending, drawing, roll forming, spinning, and stretch forming.
Cutting is a fabrication process that uses shearing or non-shearing tools to separate a piece of sheet metal into smaller parts and/or give it the desired shape. It involves the removal of material from the workpiece or the workpiece from the larger piece of material. Common shearing techniques include blanking and punching. Common non-shearing techniques include laser cutting, plasma cutting, and waterjet cutting.
Welding is a fabrication process the relies on heat and/or pressure to join separate pieces of sheet metal into a single assembly. It requires the addition of material to make the desired component or structure. Common welding methods include robotic welding, TIG welding, MIG welding, laser beam welding, electron beam welding, and resistance welding.
Common Industrial Applications for Fabricated Aluminum Sheet Metal
Fabricated aluminum sheet metal components and structures are used in many industries, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Aerospace & Aviation
- Defense & Military
- Electronic Enclosures
Typical applications include:
- Bracket & supports
Partner With PDF for Quality Aluminum Sheet Metal Fabrication Solutions
Aluminum sheet metal fabrication is ideal for the manufacture of many different parts and products. The material exhibits a number of advantageous properties, while the process allows for broad customizability. As a result, components and structures fabricated from aluminum sheet metal can be used in a wide range of industries and applications.
Ready to get started on your next aluminum sheet metal fabrication project? Partner with the metal fabrication experts at PDF, Inc. We offer a variety of manufacturing capabilities, including forming, cutting, and welding, under a single roof. For more information on our services, contact us today. To discuss your project specs with one of our representatives, request a quote.