Sheet Metal Forming:All You Need To Know

sheet-metal-shearingForming sheet metal is one of the most fundamental processes in fabricating metal parts. Understanding the basics of metal forming allows you to make better design decisions that meet your requirements.This article will discuss the different types of sheet metal forming and how they are used to create various shapes.

What Is Sheet Metal Forming?

Sheet metal forming is one of the most common processes in sheet metal manufacturing. It is mainly used to process thin metal sheets. Specific shapes are achieved through a variety of techniques and equipment. The metal material is stretched, bent and curved without removing the material to obtain the final sheet metal prototype or part.

Sheet Metal Forming Fabrication Process

1. Sheet Metal Shearing

Shearing is a manufacturing process in which sheet, bar or coil metal is cut to smaller sizes. It is usually accomplished using equipment such as shears or saws. It relies primarily on the shearing force between two blades, one of which is stationary while the other moves, to cut the metal.

  • Make sure the blade is sharp and aligned to minimize burrs and irregular edges.
  • Use proper shear clearance, adjusted for material thickness and type, to avoid excessive wear and material deformation.

2. Laser Cutting

Laser cutting cuts or engraves metal by using a high-powered laser beam to irradiate a sheet of metal, rapidly heating the material to its melting or boiling point. Extremely high precision can be achieved, with smooth cutting edges and the ability to handle complex patterns. Applications include a wide range of materials: metal, plastic, wood, glass, etc.

  • Control laser power and speed to optimize cut quality and reduce heat affected zone.
  • Regularly check and calibrate the laser system to ensure the accuracy of the laser path.

3. Bending

Bending is the application of force through the use of a jig on a bending machine or press to bring sheet metal to a shape consistent with the bending tool. It is used to manufacture a variety of structures with angled or curved sections. Bending is a cost-effective method of forming and is particularly suited to low-volume manufacturing.

  • Pre-calculated bending compensation to ensure angle accuracy.
  • Select the proper bending tool and pressure to prevent overbending or underbending.

4. Deep Drawing

Deep drawing is the process of placing sheet metal into a mold and stretching it to the desired shape by mechanical or hydraulic pressure. It is suitable for round, rectangular and irregular shaped metal parts. Particularly suitable for deep and complex products such as automotive parts, kitchenware, housings and containers.


  • Use a suitable lubricant to minimize friction and wear and to prevent cracks and wrinkles.
  • Control the stretching speed and pressure to ensure uniform material flow.
  • Select materials with good ductility and plasticity.
  • Components of complex structures using multiple stretching.

5. Curling

Curling is the process of curling the edges of sheet metal inward to form a rounded edge. This process is often chosen to increase the rigidity and strength of a structure. Common applications are in the fabrication of metal lids, pipes, and barrel parts.

  • Ensure even application of force to avoid uneven curling.
  • Use appropriate tools and techniques to maintain material integrity.

6. Punching

Punching is the process of quickly creating holes in sheet metal using a punch and die. This process, most commonly seen in stamping, utilizes a punch that is rapidly pressed down and into the sheet metal, where the material is sheared by the pressure between the punch and the die, creating the hole.

  • Select appropriate punches and dies to minimize material stretching and burrs.
  • Regular maintenance and replacement of dies to maintain punching quality.

7. Hydroforming

Expansion process is divided into two types: plate expansion and tube expansion, which uses high-pressure liquid to press metal plates into molds to form complex geometric shapes. It is suitable for high-strength, lightweight and complex structural components.

  • Controls fluid pressure and velocity to ensure precise shape and uniform material distribution.
  • High-quality molds and materials are used to withstand high pressure and prevent breakage.

8. Ironing

Ironing is a technique to homogenize the wall thickness by reducing the material thickness during the deep drawing process. Ironing uses material more efficiently, reduces waste, and improves the consistency and quality of the finished product. Ideal for the food industry, such as beverage cans and other metal containers.

  • Ensure even pressure application to prevent localized over-thinning or deformation.
  • Adjust ironing depth and speed to match material properties and desired final thickness.

9. Rolling

Sheet metal rolling is a metalworking technology used to continuously press sheet or strip metal through one or more pairs of rollers to reduce its thickness and change its shape. It is mainly used for mass production and is suitable for manufacturing metal sheets with certain thickness and width specifications.

  • Adjust the mill parameters appropriately to ensure uniformity and flatness of the material.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the mill to prevent wear and tear and errors.

10. Stamping

Stamping is the use of presses and dies to apply high-speed and high-pressure impacts to sheet metal to cut or form it into a specific shape. It is suitable for mass production of high-precision parts. Examples include electronic equipment components, household appliance structural parts and automotive parts.

  • Choose the right mold material and design to improve mold life and ensure product quality.
  • Regularly inspect stamping equipment and dies to ensure accurate and consistent operation.


11. Welding

Sheet metal welding is a manufacturing process in which two or more pieces of material are joined together by welding techniques. There are many methods of metal welding such as Arc Welding, Laser Welding, Resistance Welding, and Gas Welding.

  • Depending on the thickness of the material, consider the technical options for welding.
  • The equipment used for welding is regularly maintained to avoid quality risks.

Advantages of Forming Sheet Metal

  • Cost effective in high volume production.
  • It can handle many different types of materials and is highly adaptable.
  • Different processes allow for the production of parts of varying shapes and sizes.

Disadvantages of Sheet Metal Forming

  • Higher initial equipment and mold costs.
  • Larger design changes may require new tooling and molds.
  • It may not be the most efficient manufacturing method for shapes that are too
  • Restricted by the thickness of the material, it is not suitable for too thick material.

Equipment for Sheet Metal Forming Fabrication


  1. Shearing Machine: Used to shear sheet metal and make it into the required size and shape.
  2. Laser Cutter: For precise cutting of complex shapes and details.
  3. Press Brake: Used to bend sheet metal to form the required angle and curve.
  4. Punch Press: Used to punch holes or cut specific shapes in sheet metal.
  5. Rolling Machine: Used to roll sheet metal into cylindrical or other curved shapes by continuous pressing.
  6. Deep Drawing Press: Used to produce deep drawn parts such as metal bowls and cans.
  7. Waterjet Cutter: Uses a high-pressure stream of water (sometimes mixed with abrasives) to cut materials, suitable for cutting thick sheet metal or hard materials.
  8. Ironing Machine: Used to iron or even out the wall thickness of metal during the metal forming process.
  9. Hydroforming Press: The use of hydraulic technology to form complex concave or convex metal parts.
  10. Welding Machine: Used to join or repair sheet metal parts.
  11. Tapping Machine: used to process the internal threaded holes of the parts.
  12. Riveting Machine: Used to install rivets to join two or more materials together using rivets.

 Types of Material for Sheet Metal Forming

  • Stainless steel, aluminum, copper, galvanized steel, and carbon steel are all commonly used sheet metal materials.
  • Material selection depends on the environment and performance requirements of the end product.

Surface Finishing Options

  • Treatments such as powder coating, galvanizing, anodizing and painting not only enhance aesthetics but also increase corrosion resistance.


In conclusion, sheet metal forming, as a core part of the modern manufacturing process, will demand higher and higher quality. As a sheet metal manufacturing plant with many years of processing experience, we are able to help our customers with optimal solutions.


Is galvanized steel suitable for sheet metal forming fabrication?

Yes. The surface of galvanized steel is galvanized, which greatly enhances the corrosion resistance of the steel and extends its service life. Galvanized steel maintains the plasticity of steel and can be processed by various sheet metal forming processes such as bending, stamping and shearing.

Is there a limit to material thickness for sheet metal forming?

Yes. Sheet metal forming is more suitable for this process until the material thickness is between 0.5mm and 8mm. Different processing techniques have different requirements for material thickness. It needs to be selected in conjunction with the part structure and function of use.

which applications is sheet metal forming suitable?

Sheet metal forming is suitable for a number of industries and a variety of applications, including the automotive industry, electronics, automation equipment, medical equipment, household appliances, the energy sector and more.

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