When you think of architecture or design work, you may not immediately think of metal, or of sheet metal, for that matter. As it turns out, that's a big mistake! Today, aluminum sheet metal is a valuable material in the world of metal fabrication and serves many purposes.
Here's what you need to know about aluminum sheet metal design, and its part in the modern world of manufacturing.
What is Aluminum Sheet Metal?
To put it simply, sheet metal is metal that comes in sheets. Much thinner than standard plate metal, sheet metal also manages to be thicker than foil.
Available in various gauges (levels of thickness), its most common forms are steel and aluminum. It also comes with various coatings, which provide benefits like corrosion resistance or decorative surface finishes, which are desirable in certain manufacturing applications.
While many people wonder how sheet metal is made, the answer is very simple: It's crafted by rolling large casts of metal into a long, single sheet that boasts the desired thickness and surface. This sheet is then coiled and cut into sheets before it goes off to the machine shop that ordered it.
What is Sheet Metal Used for?
While sheet metal has many applications, it's especially useful for creating large, durable pieces that require few features.
Sheet metal makes a good material for RF shields, ground planes, and anything that requires a thicker-gauge part or needs added strength or weight. Since sheet metal is highly durable, it's one of the most commonly used materials in modern manufacturing.
It's not ideal, on the other hand, for use in small parts or any project that requires very specific or complex geometry.
Bending Sheet Metal
What many people don't know about sheet metal is that you can bend it. With the help of a hydraulic press, aluminum sheet metal can be made to fit a wide selection of tooling with different bends. That said, bending sheet metal is a costly process. (You can thank the intensive human attention required for this).
If you have any further questions about how to get the best design possible with aluminum sheet metal, talk to a fabricator before getting deep into the design process. You can also consult the free sheet metal sizing charts below to make sure your specs are correct.