In the process of deciding the best metal to use for your part fabrication, including sheet metal fabrication, you have to consider a wide variety of critical factors. The conductivity, strength, hardness and corrosion resistance needed in each sheet play an important role in this decision. To determine your requirements for each of these qualities, you’ll need to consider the sheets’ and parts’ final application.
If you’re working in material handling, technology, construction equipment or a similar industry, you likely face federal standards and regulations that dictate the qualities you need in your metal components and equipment. No matter your requirements, you’ll find the materials and quality you need when you trust APX York Sheet Metal. The following materials are some of the most common ones used in custom sheet metal fabrication.
The most common type of metal used for part fabrication is steel, which is an alloy of iron and carbon and may have some other elements like limestone or coal as well. Steel is popular because it’s cheap and easy to weld, although it’s less ductile and harder to cut than some other metals. It’s also vulnerable to corrosion. For this reason, there several steel alloys that you may also use for metal fabrication.
Although all steel contains carbon, carbon steel is so named because of its higher content. Lower-carbon content steel may be found in railings or fences, while you will find medium carbon content steel in items like cars and appliances. The highest carbon content is frequently found in steel wires. The more carbon in your steel, the stronger it is — but it’s harder to get it into the proper shape.
Although a bit more expensive than regular steel, stainless steel is popular because its chromium content prevents it from rusting. It also creates a shiny, polished silvery coating that many find aesthetically pleasing. You will find stainless steel in cookware, medical instruments, and many other steel products you want to expose to air or water without rusting. Stainless steel is fairly easy to work with but cannot be joined with other metals without compromising its anti-corrosive properties. It’s also heavier than standard steel.
Steel is not the only metal used in metalworking. There are several popular alternatives, including aluminum, copper and brass.
Aluminum is a lightweight metal that is a bit more expensive than standard steel. It’s a popular alternative to steel because it responds quite well to machining and, like stainless steel, it does not rust. In addition, it has strong thermal and electrically conductive properties. It’s not as strong as steel, however, and should not be subjected to degrees in excess of 400 F. You will find aluminum parts in air conditioning, refrigeration and aerospace applications, where very cold temperatures are not uncommon.
Copper can be fairly expensive, even though it’s not as strong as aluminum or steel and can be difficult to work with during machining or welding. It does respond well to bending and can create beautiful results. It typically does not rust, but it can age into a unique and attractive patina finish. It’s also a strong conductor of electricity. Copper is often used for pots and pans, fixtures and electronic equipment.
Brass is a combination of copper and zinc. It has strong acoustic properties, which means it’s the main metal in many instruments. It’s also found in items like doorknobs, nuts, bolts and pipes.
At APX York Sheet Metal, we have decades of experience making beautiful, high-quality parts out of steel and other metals. For advanced sheet metal fabrication in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, contact us today.