In every metal fabricator’s book, material is the most significant item for every and any metal fabrication process they offer. In 2017’s Financial Ratios and Operational Benchmarking Survey by FMA (Fabricators and Manufacturers Association Intl.), it is shown that the average of direct raw material purchase costs from the responders was 34% of total sales. This is more than the total labor cost, indirect or direct.
Some would say their fabrication process requires more labor power than others but still the material cost is far and large than the labor cost.
Whether it is laser cutting, metal rolling, TIG/MIG welding, metal bending, or just plasma cutting, material is the main item for the entire fabrication process. But scrimping on the material quality has its own costs. Managers and fabricators should know to distinguish between good quality and good coil processing for getting the best deal.
Stretching, Stress, and Compression
The processes that are used to produce sheet metals at the factory result in sheets with trapped stresses. Actually, the metal sheets are the product of balanced compression and tension.
The metal sheet becomes flat when these forces are at the equilibrium, which is the internal stresses in the sheet canceling each other. But the stresses are still there. These stresses are tugging on the ropes and when the laser cuts the material, some ropes that are holding the equilibrium snaps. This causes the workpiece to bow. That’s how you get your sheet metals to bend the way you want it to bend.
See, once the structure and formation of sheet metal is in your head, the concept of metal bending has become much easier.
Similarly, if you know the material you are buying, there’s a high chance you’ll get the fabrication process right. And what’s better than impressing your clients with precise products.
Know your material’s ins and outs
To be honest, there are way too many properties of a sheet metal. But you don’t need to know about them all. You just need few common terms. For example, know the density of the material, evaluate the tensile strength, yield point, etc. for properly judging the quality of your material.
Don’t forget the chemical compound
Most fabricators don’t pay attention to the chemical compound or the ration of the elements used to produce the sheet metal in their hand. This is unwise. They do not know how significant the chemical compound and the molecular structure is for metal fabrication processes, especially for welding.
Also, the ratio of elements in your sheet metal tells you a lot about how the sheet is going to behave when put under pressure. You can assume the overall behavior of your material if you can access the chemical ratios and quantitates.
Conclusion: While most fabricators forget this stuff, there are some smart ones who will never buy any sheet material without checking then density. Yes, they exist. And they are the ones who are dominating this metal fabrication industry.