What are sheet metals?

Metal when molded into thin flat pieces via an industrial process is called sheet metal. It is one of the fundamental forms used in metalworking where it can be cut and bent into a variety of shapes. Thickness of sheet metals can vary significantly from extremely thin sheets such as foil or leaf to thin plates of more than 0.6 mm thickness. There are several different metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, steel, tin, nickel, and titanium that can be made into sheet metals. Important sheet metals such as silver, gold, and platinum (platinum sheet metal is also utilized as a catalyst) are used for decorative purposes.

How are they made?

Sheet metals are produced via different processes. These processes include roll forming (metal passed through sets of rollers), deep drawing (metal passed through a series of die and punch), stamping (simple or multiple stations of die used), stretch forming (metal sheets held with two jaws and forced against stretching die), rubber pad forming (die and rubber block is used to pass metal), superplastic forming (metal heated to superplastic state to get maximum elongation), spinning (turning in high speed through CNC lathe for axially symmetric components), explosive forming (pressure obtained from an explosive charge underwater used for forming sheet metal under a die), magnetic pulse forming (high intensity electromagnetic force used to form sheet metal), and peen forming (small, round steel shots are blasted over sheet metal components in a die-less process).

What are their applications?

Sheet metals are used in almost all industrial and household products. Sheet metal products are commonly used in roofing, ducting, body of vehicles, furniture and household goods, and railway equipment. These are also used in a wide range of end-users ranging right from automotive and aerospace to jewelry and chemicals. This, in turn, boosts growth of the market for sheet metals. Growth of the market varies depending on the industrial segment it caters to.

Who are their competitors?

Engineering plastics are key competitors of sheet metal products in most segments such as automotive and construction industries. Lightweight and moldability features of engineering plastics are seen as attractive attributes over sheet metals, especially in automotive and aerospace industries. Other beneficial attributes of plastics include non-corrosiveness and absence of lubrication, thus eliminating grease buildup.

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