Sheet Metal Fabrication

Aluminium goes through similar fabrication processes as any other frequently used metal, but certain methods needs customization.

1. Introduction

Aluminium as a fabrication material is easier to shape, thanks to its low density. Its characteristic can change based on how it is combined with other metals to create alloys. Aluminium fabrication can be a challenge for unexperienced fabricators. These tips will help to get on the right track to overcome these challenges differing from other metal fabrications.

2. Tips for Aluminium Fabrication
  • Bending

Figure 1 Aluminium Bend

Aluminium is softer than carbon and stainless steel and bending is significantly easier compared to other metal bending operations. However, this mild structure allows it to get damaged more easily compared to the other metals.

  • Welding

Figure 2 Aluminium Welding

Aluminium has a lower melting point compared to the other metals. The high thermal conductivity makes welding of aluminium a more delicate job. Aluminium welding requires a better surface cleaning to remove aluminium oxide on the surface. Besides, it requires a faster welding pace and specialized wires for a perfect application. Aluminium welding have similar welding tests and welding quality control procedures as the carbon steel.

  • Alloy Selection

Due to the vast amount of aluminium alloys, the selection of the right alloy is a very difficult and critical step for the product design. All the alloys have different structural resilience, corrosion resistance, weld performance. It is essential to pick the right alloy to make the best out of it.

  • Surface Finish

There are mainly 4 surface finishing options for aluminium parts; anodizing, powder coating, mill finish and wet painting. All but mill finish is executed by the fabrication contractor. While anodizing offers the best corrosion protection, powder coating and wet painting have more visual attraction. All the surface finishes has their ups and downs and it is essential to decide which finish is right for each task.

  • Grinding

Figure 3 Aluminium Grinding

Due to its low melting point, grinding is a common problem when shaping aluminium. When grinding, excessive pressure will generate more heat, which will soften the aluminium and it will coat the wheel of the abrasive. There are multiple methods to overcome this problem such as covering the abrasive wheel or using thinner blades.

3. Conclusion

Aluminium is a very useful and versatile metal and it’s among the most frequent used one in various industries, thus, proper fabrication of it is highly critical. There are some special practices and tools that should be considered avoid defects or damage in the material. It starts with material selection and ends with the surface finish.

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