Sheet metal formers, or metal forming machines, fabricate specific configurations out of a long sheets or strips of metal, most commonly coiled steel. In most applications, the required cross-section profile of the metal sheet is specifically designed for the machine to blend the metal as needed. Besides the basic fundamental metal forming, sheet metal forming machines perform a handful of other metalworking duties, such as material cutting, sheet metal roll forming, etc.
Sheet metal forming machines, in most cases, are able to work in a continuous cycle. The material is fed into the machine where it makes its way through stages of operations continuously, producing the completion of a final product or part. Sheet metal formers are able to perform several metal forming processes which we’ll cover in the next section of this article.
Sheet Metal forming tends to have more uniform characteristics across the sub-processes than the contemporary processes, including cutting and joining. In the context of industrial application, sheet metal forming is characterized by:
● Sheeting metal forming using metal formers typically require very high loads and stresses, between 50 and 2500 N/mm2 (7-360 ksi)
● Sheet metal forming machines are typically large, heavy and expensive because they need to accommodate high stresses and loads.
● Production from sheet forming process runs with many parts in order to maximize the economy of production and compensate for the expense of the machining tools.
● Sheet metal forming machines are good for creating precise parts that require very little finish to yield the final product. In most cases, the end product end up having excellent finish and fine detail depending on the material being shaped.
● Sheet metal forming machines are typically able to work at a high speed and continuous manner between 30 to 600 feet per minute. They are perfect for manufacturing large quantities of parts that require both speed and precision.
Sheet metal forming machines can typically be separated into four major parts. The first part is the entry section where the work piece is loaded. The material is normally inserted in sheets of metals or fed from a continuous coil.
The next section is the station where the actual metal forming takes places. The sheet metal shapes as it makes its way through the station during the process. The stations are the main forcing driving work pieces through the machine.
The third component is the cut off press where met is cut to a pre-determined length. Flying die cut-off techniques are common in this case due to the speed at which the machine works the metal.
The final section is the exit station where the finished parts or product exit the machine onto a work table. In most cases, the completed parts and products have to be manually moved.
The metal forming process typically involves thin and flat pieces of metal, usually steel or aluminum, which plays an important role in the construction and manufacturing of metal products and parts. In the manufacturing industry, sheets of metals are typically used for automobile components, heavy duty machinery, floors and more. When working with sheet metal, companies often use the corresponding sheet metal forming machines for one or more of the following process:
Curing is a sheet metal forming process that is used to smooth out sheet metal with sharp and rugged edges. Sheet metal often contains sharp edges upon produced initially. Curling is a sheet metal forming process that entails “de-burring” sheet metal to produce smooth edges.
Bending is also another common sheet forming process that companies use either a brake machine to perform the bending on sheet metal. The sheet metal is placed over a die block, allowing the brake punch to press down onto the sheet metal. Bending does not actually create holes in the sheet metal, but by bending sheet metal in the shape of the die instead.
Sheet metal can be ironed to achieve a uniform thickness throughout the entire sheet. For example, the aluminum cans that we see in the supermarket are made of ironed aluminum using a dedicated sheet metal forming machine. This is because aluminum sheet metal in its raw state is too thick for beverage cans. Ironing using a metal forming machine requires the use of a punch to force sheet metal between two dies.
● Laser Cutting:
Laser cutting has become an increasingly popular sheet forming process nowadays. Sheet metal is exposed to a high intensity laser that creates holes in the metal during the sheet metal forming process. The cutting method known for its speed and precision that can even be performed automatically using a CNC (computer numerically controlled) laser cutting machine.
This is one of the metal forming process that is relatively less known. Hydroforming involves stretching the blank over die which can be performed in
merely one step. Otherwise, it would not have much different from deep drawing which requires multiple draw reductions.
Last but not least, punching is another common metal forming process that involves using a punch and a die to create holes in the sheet metal as the sheet metal is positioned between the punch and the die. The punch the presses down and through the sheet metal to create a hole.
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