Sheet metal fabrication is a vital step in the industrial supply chain. Sheet metal fabricators are constantly looking for the most innovative technology to ensure the timely delivery of their products. This article breaks down sheet metal ductwork and how you can find the right company for your fabrication.

How Does Sheet Metal Fabrication Work?

Sheet metal fabrication (or metalworking) is a process that creates metal parts, components, and structures through raw materials. Typically, the process turns flat sheets of steel and aluminum into metal components and desired shapes by a set of techniques which include cutting, punching, folding, and assembling.

The sheets of steel and other metals may bind to form a larger product. To attach these smaller fragments of sheets into a larger final product, processes such as welding renders exceptional finishing that helps create a myriad of products of varying configurations and sizes.

Sheet metal ductwork involves many processes that are often highly confusing. Therefore, we have created a simple guide dealing with sheet fabrication’s essential elements, necessary procedures, and key advantages.

What Separates Sheet Metal Fabricators?

Before we gain a deeper insight regarding the details of the procedure of sheet metal fabrication, it is essential to understand the functions of a sheet metal fabricator.

Metal fabricators specialize in all of the techniques in the metal fabrication process. These steps range from design to assembly and the preparation of the final product. The following methods involved in sheet metal ductwork will further help you understand the working and functionality of sheet metal fabricators.

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The 8 Stages of Sheet Metal Fabrication

1) Designing

The design approach of every company varies according to its criteria. However, some companies allow their clients to provide design and configuration specs before the start of the project. Many companies also coordinate with their production teams to find the right sheet metal tools.

This stage is one of the highly crucial parts of the whole process since it determines the economic efficiency of the entire project. Expert designer teams ensure the creation of a high specification final product.

2) Programming

Once customers or designers finalize the product’s design, they translate it into a language known to machinery that makes the final products. Programming specialists draw and nest the metallic parts into the 2D form on metal sheets in this stage. The process also ensures maximum and efficient usage of sheet metal tools.

3) Laser Cutting

The laser cutting process occurs as soon as the machine programs program the job. Following the most accurate techniques to cut the sheet metal materials, lasers work according to the programmed design and cut through the metal sheets with convenience, precision, and accuracy.

4) Punching

Several parts and components require unique perforations or forms, such as ribs, countersinks, or louvers. For this purpose, the CNC punching machine utilizes various tools to strike the metal sheet and either perforate or shape it in desired ways.

5) Bending

The bending process, also referred to as CNC folding process, is a technique that reaches its completion by utilizing a variety of machines such as an automated panel bending machine, a manual press brake, or a robotic bend cell, depending on the size and complexity of the part.

Each machine creates the component by fastening the sheet metal between a top tool and die, using pressure to obtain the planned curvature.

6) Welding

While working with sheet metals, numerous welding techniques prove functional. These techniques include MIG welding, TIG welding, projection welding, spot welding, and projection welding. These welding techniques mitigate warping or other abnormalities during sheet metal ductwork.

7) Assembly

The assembly stage also differs and relies on the complexity of the final product. It spans from simple weld assemblies to complex electrical integrations. These integrations might include PAT testing, looms, and hardware installation. However, several assemblies need insertion. Insertion involves pressing a stud, nuts, or other parts to bind the product together.

8) Powder Coating

The powder coating process involves applying an electrostatic powder to a charged metal part before mending at heat to make a durable coating. Many companies use an automated powder coating plant, which employs oxsilan pre-treatment, drying, powder application, and stoving.

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What Are the Best Sheet Metal Tools?

Sheet metal fabricators typically use the following tools:

  • laser cutting
  • CAD design software
  • punch combination machinery
  • prototyping technology
  • CNC machine tools
  • robotic welders
  • powder coating

The best sheet metal fabricators can offer these value-added benefits to your contract manufacturing:


Sheet metal designs are highly flexible. Customers have the liberty to design their products according to their specific requirements and functionality.

Modern Technology

From traditional prototype methods to 3D printing, there are a variety of modern techniques available in sheet metal fabrication.

Large-Scale Production

With sheet metal fabrication, you have the option for large-scale productions to obtain products on your schedule.

Key Takeaways

Sheet metal fabrication processes may help you configure a highly versatile product with premium precision and accuracy. However, working with professional and reliable sheet metal tools is vital to ensure that the final product meets the intended specs.

It is crucial to look for metal fabrication services with a comprehensive understanding and expertise in metalworks and the fabrication process. Before making your final decision:

  • Firstly, make sure to verify the services of the metal fabricator from former contractors.
  • Secondly, check the fabricator’s ratings and rankings.
  • Thirdly, never settle for the first estimate.
  • Lastly, try to work on a cost-effective budget.

The Best American-Made Sheet Metal Fabrication

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused about which sheet metal tools to use, we’ve got you covered. We build all of our sheet metal ductwork in the heart of New England, ready to ship anywhere in the U.S.

Wirefab Inc. has nearly 70 years of experience in American contract manufacturing. Whether you need custom CNC machining, sheet metal welding, or point-of-purchase displays, we’re here to help. Above all, we’re always eager to solve our customers’ problems with a broad range of manufacturing capabilities. Contact us today to see how we can simplify your next project.

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