Metal that is formed into thin pieces is called sheet metal, and today, it has many, many applications in both the building and manufacturing industries. Although many types of metal can be turned into sheet metal, including aluminum, brass, copper, and titanium, stainless steel is one of the most popular metals used during the sheet metal forming process. Here are just a few of the many industries that benefit from sheet metal forming:
- Aeronautics–Both large and small airplanes benefit from the sheet metal forming process because their wings and entire bodies have to be covered in sheet metal.
- Automotive–The bodies of cars and many other types of vehicles are made out of sheet metal.
- Building–Sheet metal can be used to create anything from roofing materials to rain gutters. It can also be used to create ductwork and furnaces inside a building.
- Equestrian–Decorative horse tack, like breastplates, have long been made out of sheet metal.
Although sheet metal forming processes vary, in general, the first step involves melting the metal into a liquid state. After the metal is completely melted, it is then poured into a mold. During this step, the metal must remain hot so it does not harden outside of the mold.
Once the metal has cooled inside the mold, it is taken out, cleaned, and rolled through a press. As the metal is pressed, it becomes increasingly harder until it cannot be thinned out any more. Once the pressing process has concluded, the sheet metal is either rolled into a coil or shipped flat in pieces.