Useful Tips for Preparing Sheet Metal for Fabrication

Blog | December 8th, 2017

Use these tips to avoid metal fabrication blunders. Intended as a series of concisely transcribed instructions, the tips will show you how to prepare sheet metal. The techniques that follow will ready the thin panels for a production environment so that the subsequently conducted fabrication phase advances without issue. Carried out before all other downstream operations, these instructions are intended to optimize fabrication work.

Remove Thinly Veneered Coatings 

Depending on the sourced sheet metal, the surface of that material asset could be barred by a metal oxide coating. In ferrous alloys, an easy to detect orange stain blooms across the panel surface. However, other manufacturing mediums hide that coating. Aluminium oxides are guilty of this sly act because they’re almost invisible. Use a buffing tool, grinder, or chemical solvent to dissolve the oxide coating.

Eliminate Pre-Process Gunk 

Oil and grease, dirt and grime, these ugly deposits are drawn to a large segment of metal plating like magnetic dust. They impair welding operations and collect inside machine gears. Even a marker pens label or a sticky tag on the sheet metal represents a distraction, if not an outright bad influence. Erase the gunk and telltale marks by applying cleaning wipes or a chemical solvent. Incidentally, whatever the cleaning agent, it should be formulated so that no residue is left behind.

Cut the Metal Sheets to Size 

An initial cut slices the alloy plates down to size. If you’ve ever seen large metal sheets arrive at a shipping drop-off point, you’ll know just how unwieldy these raw panels initially are, so they need that first cut. It essentially acts as a pre-processing management stage, one that prepares the sheet metal for the primary fabrication operation.

Preparing High-Fidelity Sheet Metal 

Generic steel or aluminium plates are buffed clean, chemically prepped, and then cut to size. What about the panels that employ a specially rendered finish? Exuding a polished metal gloss, a mirror-like sheen, the same basic preparation techniques still apply, but they require a tad more finesse when they’re being wielded. Don’t use shop cloths to wipe away a stain. Those contaminated rags just add more dirt. Similarly, don’t use a regular air compressor, as it throws out oily particles and moisture.

In this latter example, special wipes clean the polished metal. Then, if that glossy sheet metal requires support, special cloth-covered gripping mechanisms must be furnished. Either way, generic sheet metal or glossy plating, the sourced fabrication medium must be prepared before it moves on to the machine shop.

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