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Sheet Metal Fabrication Glossary

Sheet metal fabrication is comprised of many tools, processes and professionals to create many types of final projects.
Below are some common words used within the sheet metal world that may be applied to similar topics. This vocabulary is essential for those interested in pursuing work with sheet metal and for those interested in metalworking more generally.

ASHRAE: An acronym for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers

Assembling: A process done by welding, binding with adhesives, and bending in the form of a crimped seam

Angle roll: also known as angle roller, are all names used for the angle iron bender machines metal fabricators use to make round bends in metal profiles.

Band saws: A tool that has specially hardened blades that are capable of feeding sheet metal to ensure even cutting

Base metal: The metal to be welded or cut

Bend allowance: The length of flat sheet metal required to make a bend of a specific angle and radius.

Bending: A process is done by hammering, roll bending, stretch forming, or via press brakes

Blanking: A part is cut out of the sheet metal, and the material around the part is discarded

CAD design: An acronym for computer-aided design

Chop saws: A tool that has an abrasive disk specifically designed for cutting sheet metal

CNC cutters: An acronym for computer numerical computer cutters; the automation of machine tools that are operated by precisely programmed commands encoded on a computer instead of operated manually by hand wheels or levers

Cutting: A process done by sawing, shearing, or chiseling with manual and power tools, or torching with hand-held plasma torches using CNC cutters like lasers

Corner relief: A technique involving the removal of a circular section from sheet metal to meet the design intent by accounting for material stretch while modeling.

Cut solid: Removing solid sections of material from the sheet metal wall.

Cutting torches: A tool that is capable of cutting large sections of sheet metal with little effort

Develop: The length of flat sheet metal required to make a bend.

Die cutting: A process that cuts metal pieces without the formation of chips or the use of burning or melting; also known as shearing

Extruded wall: A solid structure of sheet metal that extends from an edge into space.

Fab shops: An abbreviation for fabrication shops

Form die: Device used for cutting out or stamping material.

Form tool: A tool used as a cast or mold to manipulate the shape of sheet metal.

Fully formed: Attaining a definite structure as intended.

Hydraulic breaks: A tool that simplifies the fabrication process by creating bends at predetermined angles

Hydroforming: A forming and fabricating process that uses a specialized type of die molding that utilizes highly pressurized fluid to shape metals like steel, stainless steel, copper, aluminum, and brass

Metal punching: When metal fabrication equipment punches holes, louvers, or a predetermined shape out of sheet metal

Milling: The process of using rotary cutters to remove material from a metal piece advancing in a direction at an angle with the axis of a tool

Notch: A cut in the surface or edge of sheet metal.

Oxy-acetylene torch: A tool used to straighten significantly warped steel in a slow, linear fashion

Press brake: A tool for bending sheet and plate metal

Relief point: Point from where a sheet metal wall is sheared or torn, especially along seams.

Roll forming: A constant bending process in which sheet metal, coil, bar or strips of metal pass through rolls that form the metal

Saw cut: Toothed cut.

Sheet metal: Metal formed into thin, flat pieces. Can be cut and bent to endless shapes and sizes.

Sheet metal fabrication: The process of cutting, shearing, rolling, bending and punching sheet metal to fabricate parts and pieces

SMACNA: An acronym for the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association

Stamping: A high production process in which single or multiple punches, bends and embossing are performed at one time or in a progressive die

Welding: The main focus of sheet metal fabrication; a process of using a blow torch or electric arc to join together two or more metal pieces or parts by heating the surfaces of the parts to the point of melting then uniting them by pressing, hammering or other techniques

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