The sheet metal is one of the important and known metals in the engineering world, as they serve a lot of purpose in our daily life. Sheet metals are very common as they can be seen on cars, machinery, house facades, furniture. It is mostly seen on parts serving as housing.
In this article, we will be looking deep into sheet metals materials, types, sizes and thickness applications, hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheet metals, and finally forming process of sheet metals.
An engineer is expected to know the standard measurements, materials, difference in manufacturing, properties and forming method before thinking of applying into any projects.
Sheets metals are formed by an industrial process into thin, flat pieces, mostly used by metalworkers. It can be cut and bent into different sizes and shapes, making it applicable to different fabrication projects.
Sheet metals are used historically for plate armour worn by cavalry and widely used for decorative purposes.
The applications of sheet metals include automobile and truck (lorry) bodies, medical tables, aeroplane fuselages and wings, roofs for buildings (architecture), and many other applications.
Sheet metal made of iron and other materials with high magnetic permeability has good applications on electric machines and transformers.
Metal Foil, Sheet and Plate
These metals come in different thicknesses, the extremely thin sheets are considered foil or leaf. Sheet metals thicker than 6mm (0.25 in) are considered plate or structural steel. They are available in flat pieces or coiled strips. The coils are formed by running a continuous sheet of metal through a roll slitter. Metal foils are often produced with aluminium, the thickness is usually up to 0.2mm
Types of sheet metals
the following explain below are the sheet metal types and the materials they are made of;
Different sheet metal materials can be made into sheet metal, metals like aluminium, copper, brass, tin, nickel, and titanium. Some expensive metals are used to create sheets for decorative purposes, such as silver, gold, and platinum. Choosing the right sheet metal for a particular project is determined the application and requirement of the product.
Some materials have the same mechanical properties as other metal materials in the project. Just as steel sheet having high tensile strength and durability, making it suitable for machinery and construction work.
the stainless is of three grades, grade 304 is the most common. It offers good corrosion resistance as it maintains formability and weldability. #2B, #3, and #4 are its available finishes.
The 316 grade possesses more corrosion resistance and strength at a higher temperature compared to 304. It is used for chemical equipment, marine applications and common on parts like pumps, valves etc.
The stainless steel of grade 410 is a heat treatable one, but it has a lower corrosion resistance than the previous listed one’s. it is widely used for producing cutlery.
Popular among all, grade 430 has a low-cost alternative compared to 300’s grades. It is considered when high corrosion resistance is not an issue. It is used for appliance products.
Aluminium is another popular metal used in making sheet metals due to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, wide range options and other properties. It is pronounced as aluminium in British English is of four grades which include;
1100-H14, 3003-H14, 5052-H32, and 6061-T6
The grade 1100-H14 is pure aluminium, highly chemical and weather resistant. It is weldable and ductile enough for deep drawing but has low strength. Its applications are mostly on chemical processing equipment, jewellery, and light reflectors.
When low cost and formability is to be considered, grade 3003-H14 must come in place. It is stronger than the 1100 version, corrosion-resistant and also weldable. It is often used in mail boxes, spun and drawn parts, cabinets, fan blades, stamping etc.
This grade 5052-H32 is much stronger than the 3003 as it still maintaining good formability. The weldability and high corrosion resistance is also in good situation in this version. Its applications are found in electronic chassis, pressure vessels and tanks.
The grade 6061-T6 is the superior among all grades, as it’s a common heat-treated structural aluminum alloy. It is weldable, corrosion resistant and stronger than the 5052 version. However, some strength will be lost when welded and it’s not formable. This aluminum grade is mostly used in modern aircraft structures.
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Brass is a copper alloy, which is also used as a sheet metal. It also has good properties such as conductivity, formability, corrosion resistance and have more strength.
The issue with sheet metals made of brass is the variation in incoming sheet coil properties. The material has experienced high rejection rate due to the observed inconsistent behavior in production. Though there are discriminating method for testing incoming sheet material formability.
Thickness of sheet metals
Thickness of sheet metals are specified in millimeters all around the world. But in US it is commonly specified by a traditional, non-linear measure known as gauge, the larger the gauge number the thinner the metal.
The most common used steel sheet metal ranges from 30 to about 7 gauges. The gauge differs between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Non-ferrous material such as copper, the thickness is measured in ounces, representing the weight of copper. Pieces of sheet metals are expected to maintain uniform thickness for ideal result when put to work.
Hot-rolled and cold-rolled sheet metal
The two ways of producing sheet metals includes hot and cold rolling. Research has shown that sheets and plates are hot rolled for cost-efficiency purposes. the process of construction steels, the cold rolling process only goes up to 3mm. for stainless steel, the hot rolling process starts from 3mm and covers the sheet with cold rolling, i.e., up to 6mm.
Engineers should be able to differentiate these two processes for precision purposes. The cold rolled steels are preferred as the final dimension can be controlled. However, in hot rolled steels, the size and shape might change after cooling, leading to slightly shrinks.
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