Rapid Axis for Sheet Metal
Rapid Axis provides competitively priced, quality parts; quickly. With capabilities in cutting, bending, forming, welding, finishing and hardware installation Rapid Axis is the clear choice for Sheet Metal fabrication. We can fabricate assemblies or individual components of any variety.
Why Rapid Axis is the best choice for Sheet Metal
With large format laser cutters, water jet cutters, press brakes and a vast array of pre-existing tooling assets at our disposal; Rapid Axis is the best choice for any of your Sheet Metal fabrication needs. Whether you want a fully finished housing with powder coating and pad printing or a simple spring steel bracket made, Rapid Axis can support the project with our best in industry customer service and quality. With no minimum order quantities and typically no NRE charges Rapid Axis remains one of the most competitive quality focused Sheet Metal fabricators in North America.
Short lead times
Fully finished parts
What is Sheet Metal Manufacturing?
Sheet metal manufacturing is a general term that refers to creating parts out of sheet metal. This is different than making parts out of stock metal.
The difference is that sheet metal is a lot thinner than stock bars, rods, and plates. The definition is a little ambiguous, but at Rapid Axis, we consider any metals under 1/4″ sheet metal, and anything over is a standard plate.
Since the material is a lot thinner, the physics at play are a little different. There’s no stock, reliable way to grip a sheet that’s 0.100” thick without bending and deforming it on a CNC mill. In addition, thinner plates can’t be machined the same way as plates — machine speeds need to be turned down, workholding changes such as vacuum chuck, and other operations are possible to use.
Different Types of Sheet Metal Manufacturing
In practice, you can break sheet metal manufacturing into three major groups. We’ll outline those groups and give quick definitions in this section.
Sheet metal fabrication is a general term that refers to using standard machines to work a piece of metal. For instance, using a mill or drill press is still possible, the machinist just needs to be more careful and intentional.
Other types of fabrication include using metal shears and bending the sheet metal. Typically, welding thin-gauge parts isn’t a good idea, but it’s still possible in certain applications.
A method that’s possible with sheet metal but not plates is laser cutting. In this option, a focused beam of heat will carve through the sheet metal. It requires a separate machine, called a CNC laser cutter.
In general, laser cutting is used for 2D designs that cut through thin sheet metal. This same method can’t be used for thick plates because the laser doesn’t have enough energy to reliably cut through thicker parts.
If you swap out the laser head for a pressurized jet of water, you have a waterjet cutting machine. These also use CNC logic and require a 2D pattern to be uploaded. With waterjet cutting, parts can be made quicker but can have fewer design elements on them (as compared to laser cutting).
For instance, a laser cutter can also engrave and mark parts. With a waterjet, the machine can only cut all the way through the plate.
Sheet Metal Applications
A lot of people choose Rapid Axis because we offer some great sheet metal manufacturing. We have a few different machines to choose from, and they all boast unique benefits that can help your operation.
Make One-Part Assemblies
Since sheet metal can be bent into a partially enclosed container, you can realistically make one-part assemblies. To create a four-sided box with plates requires four separate parts and fasteners or welding.
With sheet metal, a break can quickly fold a single piece of sheet metal into a full assembly. This cuts down on manufacturing time and makes it easier to install and service parts in the field.
Quick and Affordable Units
To begin with, sheet metal is a lot more affordable than stock plates. On top of that, each manufacturing step is faster and easier, cutting down on manufacturing time and the total quote price.
Multiple parts can be made from a single purchased sheet of metal. This further cuts down the per-unit price and saves you more money.
Using waterjet or laser cutters to create a flat part takes a fraction of the time that a mill would take. We’ve made parts in the past that took seconds to cut after going through the machine setup.
Remember, when a machine shop saves time on manufacturing and money on raw materials, you will see a lower quote.
If you have a part in a dusty, wet, or high-motion area, you will probably need some sort of shroud to protect delicate parts. Through the years, we’ve had a lot of customers request bent covers made out of sheet metal to protect parts of their assembly.
The benefit of using sheet metal for these covers is that they’re incredibly lightweight. In addition, they’re less expensive, easier to make, and easier to install, as we covered earlier.
With a lower weight, you can install a dust shroud on an assembly without changing the center of gravity or requiring additional supports.
In certain industries, covers are required through OSHA safety standards. In these cases, sheet metal offers a very easy and simple solution that doesn’t disturb the process.
If you make the same enclosure out of metal plate, then you might need to add gussets and supports to the existing structure. Metal has a high density, and it’s easy to forget how heavy a piece will be until it’s machined and installed.
To avoid this issue altogether, you can stick with sheet metal fabrication. Our professionals at Rapid Axis can help you understand the different options and create high-quality sheet metal parts for your business.