How to choose the right sheet metal for your product

Sheet metal is one of the most fundamental components of many manufactured products. It can be cut and formed to create countless objects we use every day. Everything from car and lorry bodies, to medical equipment, roofs, and even aircraft are built using sheet metal. However, not all sheet metal is the same. There are a huge range of materials and thicknesses from which to choose. If you are considering using sheet metal for your next manufactured product how can you decide which is the right sheet metal to purchase?

Ask the right questions

To decide what sheet metal you need to purchase you should consider how you will be using the metal.

  • How will you cut the metal? Laser cutter? Punch? Plasma cutter?

  • What finish will be applied to the metal? Paint, or something else?

  • Will the part be used indoors or outdoors?

Consider the properties of the metal

Once you have the answers to these questions you will be in a strong position to decide on the type of sheet metal you need. Some of the most popular types of sheet metal are:

  • Galvannealed Steel Sheet

  • Hot Rolled Sheets

  • Hot Rolled Pickled and Oiled (HRPO)

  • Cold Rolled Sheet

Each of these sheet metals is best suited to a particular situation.

Galvannealed steel sheet is intended to be painted and used outdoors. Excellent results can be produced when it is cut by laser or punched.

By contrast, hot rolled steel sheets are a great choice if cost is a significant concern. Hot rolled steel needs to be punched rather than laser cut. The material can be painted but the hot rolling process results in an imperfect surface which will show through any paint.

HPRO is similar to hot rolled sheet but is passed through an additional process to remove surface oxide. It is intended for painted products that will be used indoors. HPRO can be punched like hot rolled sheets but it can also be successfully laser cut.

Cold rolled steel sheet is sheet metal that has been treated to improve the strength-to-weight ratio. It can hold tighter tolerances and a more consistent thickness. It requires painting to avoid rust. It may be laser cut or punched, and the surface finish is generally excellent.

Whatever material you want to use for your product asking the right questions before you start will ensure that you choose the perfect sheet metal for your purpose.