At a metalworking shop, you’ll work with many different metals. There are many different types of sheet metal used in fabrication, and having knowledge of each will give you the tools to properly work with them. Know what your materials are and familiarize yourself with some of the most common metals used in fabrication.
One of the most common metals you will work with is stainless steel. It comes in several varieties:
- 300 Series. This type of stainless steel is non-magnetic and the most common type that is used. Steel in the 300s typically doesn’t need hot work or other stress relief during manufacturing and retains its strength when exposed to high temperatures.
- 400 Series. These are the standard magnetic type of stainless steel. Because these metals are more elastic than other types, they tend to need to be over-bent in to retain their final form.
Aluminum comes in many different grades. It’s a very versatile metal to work with and has a wide range of applications. Generally speaking, aluminum has a great strength-to-weight ratio, is highly resistant to corrosion, and can be applied to both heavy-duty products as well as general purposes.
These are sheets of metal that have either gone through the process of galvanization or hot-dipped galvanization. Galvanizing steel requires you to coat the surface in zinc to prevent rust, and hot-dipped galvanizing is the same process except for annealing the metal after galvanization. Subjecting metal to this process makes the material easier to form and work with by reducing its hardness and increasing ductility.
Because of the lower content of zinc in its structure, brass metals can be easily worked, welded, and brazed. If the brass has a high copper content, then it will form a protective oxide layer, giving it a desirable patina. This patina serves as protection from corrosion and is typically aesthetically sought after.
Universal Safety Measures
No matter what types of sheet metal are used in fabrication, the safety precautions remain the same. Shaving metal can fling harmful particles into the air that can cause respiratory problems and lung damage if inhaled. These same particles can also be the cause of damage to the eyes without proper eye protection. Deburring the metal is also an important and necessary step, not just for safety but for the product’s structural integrity. Deburring is often a manual process, however it has been made easier through automation. Robotic deburring is now gaining favor in the fabrication process. Robotic Deburring leads to a safer workplace and more consistent products.