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What Are The Most Common Uses For Sheet Metal?

Published by Lucy Thurston on

Metal Sheet Cutting Snips

It is only when you lift your head and start looking at the world that surrounds you that you realise how the world relies on sheet metal. From the most obvious building and construction applications to transport, street furniture, art, agriculture, school hallways, commercial and domestic kitchens, ventilation, manufacturing equipment…

As a manufacturer looking to source the right product from a sheet metal company in the UK, this guide has broken down the different types available and outlined their most common uses to help you select the best type for your particular project. However, if you are still unsure then we can work with you to help in your decision and create a bespoke solution if need be.

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The Most Common Uses for Cold-Reduced Sheet Metal

If you go into your local metal shop and find a sheet metal that has an oily and smooth surface, you have probably stumbled upon the stock of cold-rolled sheet metal. While most metals are manipulated at very high temperatures, cold-reduced steel is flattened without the use of heat. The end product is a sheet that is strong, smooth, and slim. It can hold tight tolerances and retains few surface imperfections, making it a good choice for domestic and consumer products which are tangible and tactile and need to look and feel smooth to the touch.

Cold-reduced, or cold-rolled, sheet metal is known for being extremely ductile, and robust. It has a high accuracy for finished dimensions, which makes it ideal for jobs where precision is required. These include metal furniture, structural and non-structural parts in construction such as columns, beams, joists and studs, home appliances, water heaters, metal containers, fan blades, frying pans, and computer cabinets. Cold-reduced metal is perhaps most well known for use in school lockers and metal filing cabinets.

The Most Common Uses for Hot-Rolled Sheet Metal

Hot working is more common than cold rolling as it needs less force and energy. To produce hot-rolled sheet metal, the steel slabs are heated to temperatures above 1000°C and then fed through rolling machinery to create the sheets. The process is faster than cold rolling, so can be produced in much larger quantities making it a more cost-effective choice depending on the project. However, during the cooling process, the steel shrinks slightly, compromising the integrity by leaving it with internal stresses. This means that it does not have the precision, which the more robust cold-rolled steel has, and dimensional tolerances can vary between 2% and 5%. Also, unlike the smooth, clean surface of cold-rolled steel, hot-rolled takes on a scaly surface, known as mill scale, caused by oxidisation. It feels rough and uneven to the touch and lacks oiliness.

Taking into account the rougher finishing, price differentiation, and reduced precision, sheet metal manufacturing companies recommend that hot-rolled sheets are ideal for creating frameworks in construction projects, piping and tubing, truck frames, doors and shelving, railroad tracks, and carriage parts.

Hot-rolled is also often used in art sculptures. The rough surface gives depth and texture, and because it is also prone to rusting, this adds a further dimension to the overall visual impact of the sculpture.

The Most Common Uses for Galvanised Sheet Metal

The galvanising process in making sheet metal prevents it from rusting, which is why it is probably one of the most popular choices for a wide range of applications.

Galvanisation is a manufacturing process where a coating of zinc is applied to the sheet metal to protect it against corrosion and rusting. The most common process is hot-dip galvanising in which the steel or iron metal is fully submerged in a molten zinc bath.

Commercial construction projects are the most common applications for galvanised steel sheets – these include awnings, balconies, building frames, canopies, ductwork, handrails, fences, industrial walkways, ladders, staircases, street furniture, support beams, and verandas.

Cutting galvanised sheet metal is relatively easy, and the product as a whole is highly workable and versatile. In the automotive industry, this is exploited for the production of a wide variety of automobile parts – including the chassis, car bodies, and door fittings.

Due to health and safety concerns, children’s playground equipment is manufactured using galvanised steel.

The beauty of sheet metal is that it allows you to use what you need with minimal wastage. With no minimum order quantity, you can specify exactly what you need. Any leftover sheet can be saved and used for another project, and shavings produced can be gathered and recycled.

Once your design has been finalised, and tooling set, production can be scaled up rapidly. Sheet metal can be purchased simply and easily online ‘off the shelf’; however, if you require guidance for more bespoke projects, you can contact us for more help.

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What Are The Most Common Uses For Sheet Metal?

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