The choice of how parts and components of any size are formed out of metal sheet or plate has a significant impact on the final cost of production. It also has an impact on the steps required in the manufacturing and fabrication process, and even in how changes can occur in the metal due to heating through cutting, welding, or other types of processing.
One option for creating shapes out of metal that does not include the removal of the metal, as found in turning, milling, or lathing, is the use of metal forming. Custom metal forming services can include one of several processes that does not remove anything or add anything to the workpiece, but still ends up creating the desired final shape.
All types of custom metal forming use plastic deformation as the underlying principle. This is the ability to bend, form, and shape metals or alloys to a point that causes a permanent change in the shape but does not cause the metal to fracture or break.
Metal Under Pressure
A significant benefit to custom metal forming is the speed at which these processes can be completed. The metal is typically worked at room temperature, with massive presses used to create uniform pressure to cause the sheet or plate to form into the desired shape.
Metal forming can include rolling, which creates a flat surface of uniform thickness. Rolling is done progressively, with the metal pressed between the rollers until the desired thickness is obtained.
Brake forming uses a large press with a brake or an edge. The metal is positioned over this brake, and pressure is applied, creating the desired bend, angle, or channel.
In the past, most metal forming was done manually. Today, it is more commonly completed using CNC equipment. This allows for precision in all shapes while maintaining the low production costs of the process.