Sheet metal prototyping is a cost-effective and fast solution implemented by significant services. The services include cutting, bending, and punching gauge metal to create low-volume production runs and sheet metal prototype fabrication.
Sheet metal fabrication produces end-use sheet metals and parts in small series that are durable with a broad range of material selection and finishes that meet the specification of various industries like Robotics, Energy, Automotive, and Aerospace.
Metals sheets have varying sizes, thicknesses, and simplex geometries. The materials commonly implemented in sheet metal making include stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and brass. This article will introduce the fundamentals of Sheet Metal Prototyping and Small Series.
What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication?
Sheet metal fabrication is a manufacturing process that turns sheet metal stocks into functional and practical parts. The sheet metals usually range between 0.006 and 0.25 inches in thickness.
Sheet metal fabrication is an umbrella term for various metal fabrication processes such as bending, cutting, and punching. Sheet metal fabrication can be used either individually or in tandem.
The everyday use of sheet metal fabrication is to create functional prototypes or end-user parts. However, end-users require a finishing process before they are supplied to the market.
The Process Of Rapid Sheet Metal
The sheet metal prototype fabrication consists of shaping the metal sheets into foldable materials- obtained through laser cutting technology to give the sheet the desired appearance and shape.
The process includes folding and shaping the metal, stamping, punching, and assembling through the welding process. Sheet metals can be applied with various and different finishes such as anodizing, painting, etc.
The use of these different sheet metals processes depends on the thickness of the used sheet, the selected material, and the chosen shape. These factors depend on the desired application of the small series or prototypes.
Advantages And Application Of Rapid Sheet Metal
The parts composed of sheet metals are generally affordable than those obtained by die-casting, and CNC machines cannot produce that. The sheet metals can be worked efficiently and rapidly into almost any shape and with large or small dimensions, for instance, from a simple bracket to a plane’s fuselage.
For sheet metal fabrication and prototyping, the parts are used in various industries such as Automotive, Electronics, Furniture, Construction, Consumer products, etc.
The most common example applications in sheet metal prototyping include metal enclosures, chassis, hoods, cabinets, and boxes.
Advantages Of The Production Of Small Series
There are a few advantages of the rapid production of small series-
- The output of ‘proof of concept’ or commonly known as a pre-series
- Fast production on demand includes the after-sales service, production line stoppage, etc.
- Rapid production of spare parts
- Quick Reproductions of other parts
- Low setup costs or scalability offering low prices for large volumes
Sheet metal parts commonly found and too quick to construct brackets, enclosures, cabinets, assemblies, housings, weldments, and other sheet metal prototypes and parts. Sheet metal small series and prototypes are commonly implemented in low-volume production, medical and communications products, housings, and enclosures.