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Why use sheet metal?

What is the interest in using sheet metal in the industrial sector? The sheet metal is a fine material obtained by laminating, an industrial process which consists in flattening the raw metal by applying continuous compression on it when it goes through two cylinders. These cylinders turn in the opposite direction and are called rolling mills and then considerably reducing the thickness of the metal to obtain a thin sheet.

Different types of sheet metals

The sheet metal is an industrial process covering very large areas. Thus, the type of sheet metal used can vary. There are three levels of sheet thickness:

  • Thin sheets are usually manufactured in strips and have less than 3mm thickness.

  • Those which are between 3 and 8mm thick are called sheet plates which literally mean sheet-metal plates.

  • Finally, the thickest can reach up to 300 mm.


Regarding its shape, the sheet can take different forms: embossed, perforated, plane, etched, ribbed or corrugated.

Which sectors are concerned by sheet metals?

Today, sheet metal has numerous fields of application. Without necessarily realizing it, it’s an industrial technology which we encounter everyday. In fact, sheet metal is present in automobile industry where it is especially used to make the car bodies or the wheel rims. Similarly, it is an integral part of many devices such as computers, washing machines, toasters, etc. Moreover, our famous cans are also made of sheet metal.

Construction is a sector where sheet metal is extensively used (e.g.: cladding used to cover the buildings). Anti-slip surfaces can also be made by this material.

Eventually, many other sectors use sheet metals to make technical parts such as pipes, mounting brackets, gates, tanks, etc.

Operational technicality of sheet metal

If many companies today outsource a part of their activities to sheet metal workers, one often forgets that it is a highly technical field. In fact, sheet metal is a material which meets strict requirements. For example, the roughness is an important criterion, especially in automobile industry. As a matter of fact, if the roughness of the sheet metal is not enough, it will be impossible to paint it. On the contrary, if the relief of the sheet metal is too large, it will be unsightly.

Characteristic of fine sheet metal

Among the various types of sheet metal, the fine sheet metal is somewhat a particular field. The latter, also called precision sheet metal, is an industrial manufacturing process for products made of sheet metal of low thickness. As the name suggests, thin sheet metal work calls for great precision and therefore requires a highly skilled workforce. This process continues to grow. Indeed, besides the traditional manufacturing, it offers products made of light alloys and yet highly resistant (especially corrosion attacks).

Although this is a technical process used for many years, sheet metal industry is in constant evolution. The use of this industrial sector is now inevitable and the current technical progress enables the construction of finished products ever more accurate and resistant.

Arthur PETRY
Manufacturing technology
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