Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

By on June 18, 2016

The great advantages of working with metal is that it’s malleable and ductile – which means you can bend or stretch it in any number of ways. Modern machinery lets us bend sheet metal to precise angles or cut it to exact specifications.

Metal Bending
A brake is a machine used to bend metal by aligning and clamping it over a hard steel edge and lifting an entire section of the sheet. Metal brakes can be hand-operated or large computer-controlled machines that allow presetting dimensions and angles.

Cutting Metal
Sheet metal “shears” can be anything from common tin snips to power tools. Most fabrication shops have industrial shears that can trim off a large cross section of a metal sheet by clamping and slicing it off with a hardened steel blade. Throatless shears – sometimes called “Beverly” shears – allow operators to cut arcs and shapes as well as straight lines. A hinged blade is lowered to cut metal lying on a rotating, stationary blade.

Plasma cutters use a high-energy discharge not dissimilar to a welder’s cutting torch. Plasma cutters can be either portable hand-guided tools, or large stationary models that allow the cutting tip to follow pre-formed templates or computer-programmed patterns.

In the past screws and rivets were also used, but most fabrication shops rely on oxy acetylene, MIG, or TIG welding, depending on the type or thickness of the metal, but in many shops is simply “spot welded” between two high-amp nodes under pressure to create a permanent fusion point. Other machines use a repeated electrical pulse through revolving wheels to create a seam-weld joining two edges.

Metal Shingles
Today’s shingles can be made of copper. stainless or galvanized steel, aluminum, or tin, and coated with stone or asphalt textures to resemble concrete or traditional tiles. Sometimes the steel is simply pressed into decorative shapes for an artistic look. They are being manufactured in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures to suit virtually any taste. Different styles are combined to create customized roofing solutions all across Canada.

The benefit of metal singles is that they don’t wear out, become brittle, or rot away like other types of roofing. Durable metal is fire-resistant, not affected by sun, snow, insects, or algae, and typically last a lifetime.

Metal Restoration
A skilled sheet metal fabricator can also provide ornamental restoration to metal d├ęcor that’s been rusted or damaged over the years. This could be the traditional weathervanes that topped many Canadian structures, as well as fountains, sconces, brackets, and other custom metal work that isn’t so easy to replace.

Of course, expert sheet metal fabrication can also add unique artistic metal work to new construction, as well.

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