When you need a metal product, there is a lot that goes into processing it. The exact method to finish processing metal we employ depends heavily on the intended product and what it is going to be used for. This month we take a look at five different ways to treat metal to create the shapes and designs you’re looking for.
Beveling is the process of cutting a slope at an angle on the edge of a piece of metal. Beveling is completed before welding can begin in order to make joining easier. The result is a smoother seam. The cut is made at a diagonal to match the thickness of the piece of metal, therefore giving more surface area for the weld. Beveling also reduces the thickness of the butting endings of the two joining metal pieces. This helps improve weld fusion
Overall, beveling is a powerful method to finish processing metal. It yields precision and a much stronger weld. Additionally, the risk of cracking in the centerline down the road is minimized. Creating a double bevel, which eliminates the risk of a gap between the pieces of metal at the apex of the joining, further strengthens the weld.
While beveling is one of the most efficient and quick ways to finish processed steel, it also creates emissions, so protective gear should be worn during the process. Our Cd’A Metals division of the Norfolk Iron & Metal Group can handle all your beveling needs.
Blanking is a precise and specific way to finish processing metal. Using a press and a die, blanking punches out metal pieces (blanks) from coils of sheet metal. The coil is fed continuously through the press, and the blanks that are stamped out are in turn used for the rest of the project. Blanks are almost always flat geometric shapes.
One of blanking’s best features is its ability to cut down on waste material. The process is conservative and highly customizable, accommodating customers’ designs and specifications in the size and shape of the blanks produced. Blanking allows for smaller tolerances and is versatile in the metals that can be shaped, including carbon steel, stainless steel, copper, iron, and aluminum. We manage all our blanking services at our Metalwest facilities.
Hole punching is the cousin to blanking. This method to finish processing metal follows many of the same basic principles: sheet metal is compressed between a press and dies to produce a hole. In the case of punching, however, the piece that matters is not the blank but the rest of the sheet, the piece with a hole in it.
A hole punching press puts percussive pressure on a metal sheet until the plastic pressure is too great and the fibrous structure is perforated. The dies on the other side of the sheet ensure that the metal does not break during the process. The process produces the best results on material between 25 and 30mm thick. The metals used may vary, including materials like aluminum, brass, copper, iron, and stainless steel. When our customers require hole punching for their materials, the service is performed at one of our Cd’A Metals facilities.
Offered at our Norfolk Iron & Metal and Cd’A Metals sites, laser cutting is an automated process that creates quick and highly precise cuts in sheet or plate metal. Appropriate for carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and brass applications, the method to finish processing metal uses a highly-focused high-energy laser to make 2-dimensional cuts in the material.
Laser cutting works along an X-Y plane to cut metal to manufacturer specifications. These are programmed into the machine beforehand in what is known as a G-code. Then the laser beam burns or melts through the material, with the quality of the cut reflecting the thickness of the metal (the thinner the better).
To remove molten excess material before it solidifies and compromises the cut, a laser cutter may employ a high-pressure stream of gas to blow the molten material out of the bottom of the cut. However, it may just vaporize the material as it passes through. This too depends on the material’s thickness. Laser cutters can process almost any material with the right amount of power. However, they are limited to how deeply they can cut, usually a max of 25mm.
Laser cutting has many advantages. Fabricators love it for its precision and efficiency—lasers can be focused to beams as tight as 0.1 mm in diameter. They also leave behind minimal post-processing work. The only exception is the occasional deburring if the material has slag attached to the cut edge.
Unfortunately, the method does have its drawbacks, including producing toxic fumes. Laser cutting is expensive to set up and to perform because it requires a lot of power. Still, for the work performed, it is a fantastically effective method to finish processing metal.
Sometimes metal is processed in coils, and the correct method to finish processing metal cannot be undertaken unless the metal is in sheets. That is where the leveling and cut-to-length processes come into play. They convert coil into sheet metal by unrolling the coil, leveling it, and cutting it into cross-sections. This must be accomplished with precision, adhering to very small tolerances for error.
We offer both leveling and cut-to-length services at our Norfolk Iron & Metal and Metalwest locations across the United States. Keeping material waste minimal, we work with customer requirements from 28 gauge to 10 gauge carbon steel, providing next-day delivery for newly-cut sheet. We occasionally (and at select locations) work with non-ferrous material in custom cuts.