When you need to work with sheet metal to create a particular product, then something which you will need to address early on in the design process is how the metal will be cut. You might perhaps think that sheet metal cutting isn't a particularly important subject and that any method will do, but that isn't true. It is important to remember that different metals can respond to cutting in different ways, and you will need to find a method of sheet metal cutting that is cost-effective and that produces the right finish for the type of metal you are using.
Here are some of the possible processes which you might use for sheet metal cutting. You will need to discuss the most likely candidates with your engineering team and the company carrying out the work to determine which process could be best in your situation.
Sheet metal cutting with a laser
One of the most common methods of sheet metal cutting is to use a laser cutting machine. Laser cutting involves using a laser beam rather than physical tooling to cut an extremely precise shape in the sheet metal. Since most laser cutting machines are computer-controlled, human errors are eliminated, and once the cutting process is programmed into the machine, the cut can be quickly repeated as many times as required.
Sheet metal cutting with a flame
If you don't need to create extremely precise cuts or if you don't need to make a large number of cuts, then a flame-cutting process can be a quicker solution than programming a cutting machine. Flame cutting involves producing a gas flame up to 3,480 degrees Celsius and then using an oxygen stream to melt the metal along the desired line.
Sheet metal cutting with water
If you need to cut metal which does not respond well to the heat needed for flame cutting, then making a cut using a water jet can be an effective solution. Directing a high-powered water jet against the metal mimics natural effect of water on metal but greatly accelerates the process to produce a smooth cut in the sheet metal.
These are only a few of the many ways that metal can be cut. Talk to your chosen metal cutting workshop and see if they suggest one of these methods or perhaps an alternative method such as plasma cutting or a welded cut to create the perfectly cut metal you desire.