05 Dec Sheet metal manufacturing terminology
Sometimes sheet metal manufacturing can be confusing, so we’ve put together a comprehensive list of terms and jargon to help you get the most our of your project with us at Constant.
CNC bending/forming is the industry term used to describe the use of press brakes/bend machines to cleanly bend and form a shape out of sheet metal. At Constant Manufacturing we have several press brake bending machines such as the Trumpf TruBend 5130 and TrumaBend V-Series machines.
Combining CAD drawings with high power optical lasers results in a laser cut piece of metal. Laser cutting is a highly accurate method of cutting, as it can cut minute detail into steel. As part of our suite of machines, we have a state of the art Trumpf TruLaser 3030 operational 24/7.
CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, however the word ‘design’ is actually redundant after the abbreviation but it is often shortened to CAD design. At Constant Manufacturing it refers to the team of designers who use industry leading computer software Solidworks to bring designs into reality and of course produce the necessary shop floor technical drawings.
Take a piece of metal, stamp out some holes, slots or shapes and you’ve got sheet metal punching. Do that with an automated machine driven by CNC programs then it becomes CNC punching. We’ve a Trumpf TruPunch 5000 and TruPunch 3000 for all our punching requirements.
The term used to describe joining of all the pieces, and we use it to describe the assembly of all parts post fabrication. So take all the parts we’ve punched, pressed, welded and add in a few external non-metal parts such as vinyl graphics, TV units, product prototypes and branding pieces, and then assemble it all together to become one finished unit.
Engraving involves etching detail, typically text or logo, into the metal without breaking through to the other side of the sheet metal (which would be punching/stamping). At Constant we can either laser engrave using our state-of-the-art Trumpf TruLaser 3030 or traditionally rotary engrave smaller items such as sign badges on our Gravograph IS6000XP.
Sheet metal fabrication
From rolling, bending, insertion of hardware our skilled sheet metal workers and welders can turn drawings, 3D models into reality. This process is defined as sheet metal fabrication.
The operator takes a stencil purpose made with required artwork and places it into a jig. The stencil then lies on top of the metal surface such as stainless steel disc. The ink is forced onto the stainless steel disc using the machine to push ink through the stencil and apply it onto the disc. The painted disc is then placed into a curing oven to ensure the ink adheres onto the metal.
Finishing can be used to describe several processes at Constant, as well as general sheet metal fabrication. It can describe the process of linishing (sanding and buffing), or powder coating the product to ‘finish’ it off. It could also refer to a specialised type of polishing to create a ‘shiny’ finish to metal.
Welding is the joining of metals through different processes and techniques. Typically two pieces of metal are taken, melted at joining point desired and with a filler metal (or without) are welded together by a skilled welder to become a strong joint.
Spot welding is a simple welding process compared to TIG/MIG welding as it involves pressing the metal pieces together and passing an electric current through to create a spot weld of the two parts.
TIG welding (tungsten inert gas welding) refers to the process of welding that uses non-consumable electrode to produce the weld joint. While MIG welding (formally known as gas metal arc welding) uses a consumable such as a metal wire to join the metal pieces together to form the joint.
Sheet metal workers
Sheet metal workers is the term often used to describe the skilled worker responsible for fabricating and sometimes responsible for final welding and finishing.
Trumpf are the leading manufacturers of sheet metal machinery, and we’re proud to have an array of Trumpf machines including; TruPunch 5000 with 63tonne Stopa, TruPunch 3000, TruLaser 3030 and TruBend Machines. They are our brand of choice for sheet metal fabrication, and you can see our fleet of machines on our Factory Floor layout.
Many people won’t realise that steel is in fact an alloy of iron and carbon (among other metals). It is most commonly used in manufacturing due to low cost and great strength.
Did you know Brass is made up of two other metals; Zinc and Copper? Not to be confused with bronze, which is copper and tin, brass can be various colours depending on the composition of zinc and copper used. It is typically used due to it’s gold like appearance for decorative purposes and signage.
Aluminium is a soft metal, with a silver finish, and like stainless steel is resistant to corrosion when exposed to water and other organic elements. Aluminium is also lighter than stainless steel, but due to the softness it is not used as a replacement.
To protect steel from rusting, the piece of metal is coated with a layer of zinc, in a process caused galvanisation. Galvanised steel is cheaper than stainless steel, so is a popular choice when rust protection is required, but where cost is an issue.
Stainless steel has a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass, and unlike steel, it rarely corrodes, rusts or stains when in contact with water. Stainless steel isn’t the most common of steels used in everyday manufacturing due to the high cost factor. It is mainly used when the need for steel is required, and corrosion resistance is preferable.