Sheet metal

Sheets of Nirosta stainless steel cover the Chrysler Building
Microscopic close-up of mild steel sheet metal.

Sheet metal is metal formed by an industrial process into thin, flat pieces. Sheet metal is one of the fundamental forms used in metalworking and it can be cut and bent into a variety of shapes. Countless everyday objects are fabricated from sheet metal. Thicknesses can vary significantly; extremely thin sheets are considered foil or leaf, and pieces thicker than 6 mm (0.25 in) are considered plate.

Sheet metal is available in flat pieces or coiled strips. The coils are formed by running a continuous sheet of metal through a roll slitter.

In most of the world, sheet metal thickness is consistently specified in millimeters. In the US, the thickness of sheet metal is commonly specified by a traditional, non-linear measure known as its gauge. The larger the gauge number, the thinner the metal. Commonly used steel sheet metal ranges from 30 gauge to about 7 gauge. Gauge differs between ferrous (iron based) metals and nonferrous metals such as aluminum or copper; copper thickness, for example is measured in ounces, which represents the weight of copper contained in an area of one square foot. Parts manufactured from sheet metal must maintain a uniform thickness for ideal results.[1]

There are many different metals that can be made into sheet metal, such as aluminium, brass, copper, steel, tin, nickel and titanium. For decorative uses, some important sheet metals include silver, gold, and platinum (platinum sheet metal is also utilized as a catalyst.)

Sheet metal is used in automobile and truck (lorry) bodies, airplane fuselages and wings, medical tables, roofs for buildings (architecture) and many other applications. Sheet metal of iron and other materials with high magnetic permeability, also known as laminated steel cores, has applications in transformers and electric machines. Historically, an important use of sheet metal was in plate armor worn by cavalry, and sheet metal continues to have many decorative uses, including in horse tack. Sheet metal workers are also known as "tin bashers" (or "tin knockers"), a name derived from the hammering of panel seams when installing tin roofs.[2][3]


Stainless steel

Grade 304 is the most common of the three grades. It offers good corrosion resistance while maintaining formability and weldability. Available finishes are #2B, #3, and #4. Grade 303 is not available in sheet form.[4]

Grade 316 possesses more corrosion resistance and strength at elevated temperatures than 304. It is commonly used for pumps, valves, chemical equipment, and marine applications. Available finishes are #2B, #3, and #4.[4]

Grade 410 is a heat treatable stainless steel, but it has a lower corrosion resistance than the other grades. It is commonly used in cutlery. The only available finish is dull.[4]

Grade 430 is popular grade, low cost alternative to series 300's grades. This is used when high corrosion resistance is not a primary criteria. Common grade for appliance products, often with a brushed finish.


Aluminum is also a popular metal used in sheet metal due to its flexibility, wide range of options, cost effectiveness, and other properties.[5] The four most common aluminium grades available as sheet metal are 1100-H14, 3003-H14, 5052-H32, and 6061-T6.[4][6]

Grade 1100-H14 is commercially pure aluminium, highly chemical and weather resistant. It is ductile enough for deep drawing and weldable, but has low strength. It is commonly used in chemical processing equipment, light reflectors, and jewelry.[4]

Grade 3003-H14 is stronger than 1100, while maintaining the same formability and low cost. It is corrosion resistant and weldable. It is often used in stampings, spun and drawn parts, mail boxes, cabinets, tanks, and fan blades.[4]

Grade 5052-H32 is much stronger than 3003 while still maintaining good formability. It maintains high corrosion resistance and weldability. Common applications include electronic chassis, tanks, and pressure vessels.[4]

Grade 6061-T6 is a common heat-treated structural aluminium alloy. It is weldable, corrosion resistant, and stronger than 5052, but not as formable. It loses some of its strength when welded.[4] It is used in modern aircraft structures.[7]


In sheet hydroforming, variation in incoming sheet coil properties is a common problem for forming process, especially with materials for automotive applications. Even though incoming sheet coil may meet tensile test specifications, high rejection rate is often observed in production due to inconsistent material behavior. Thus there is a strong need for a discriminating method for testing incoming sheet material formability.The hydraulic sheet bulge test emulates biaxial deformation conditions commonly seen in production operations.

For Forming Limit curves (FLCs)of materials Aluminium, Mild steel and Brass.Theoretical analysis is carried out by deriving governing equations for determining of Equivalentstress and Equivalent strain based on the bulging to be spherical andTresca’s yield criterion with the associated flow rule. For experimentation Circular Grid Analysis is used.

Investigation of Forming Limit Curves of Various Sheet Materials Using Hydraulic Bulge Testing With Analytical, Experimental and FEA Techniques. Available from:

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