Currently, sheet metal accounts for over $30 billion in U.S. revenue, which is not a surprise because every manufacturing industry utilizes sheet metal in its operations. The automotive, engineering, and aerospace industries have found major uses for thin sheet metal in their manufacturing operations. Sheet metal can be made from various metals, such as aluminum, copper and brass, nickel, steel, and titanium. Thin steel sheet is one of the most versatile, durable, and reliable sheet metal that manufacturers use for their every-day production.
When finding a supplier for your thin steel sheet, you should consider the following factors.
1. What’s Your Desired Thickness?
Thin steel sheet comes in different gauges. Thinner sheets have a higher gauge number, while thicker metal sheets have a smaller gauge number. Knowing the exact thickness of sheet metal that you need is crucial in your manufacturing operations. The thickness of thin steel sheet will influence sheet metal fabrication. Metal fabrication refers to the process of using sheet metal to create your desired products. Fabrication of thin sheet metal can be through welding, shearing, punching, machining, press brake forming, and laser cutting.
To make your metal fabrication process more efficient, it’s important that you order thin steel sheet with the exact measurements. This will reduce wastages and manufacturing errors that are not only costly but lead to operational downtimes. It’s estimated that manufacturers use 30-50% of their operational time to fix manufacturing errors in their products. Almost half of these errors, 24%, are design errors, and they can be prevented by ordering sheet metal of the right thickness. Also, the thickness of your sheet metal may also influence how you finish your products. Sheet metal can be finished through brushing, plating, liquid and powder coating, silk-screening, anodizing, and laser-etching.
2. Order Your Thin Steel Sheet From a Reputable Supplier
A good metal supplier will supply you with customized thin metal strips of the right thickness. The good thing about the top metal suppliers is that they can deliver thin sheet metal that is cut-to-size and has the exact thickness that you desire. This way, you can enhance your manufacturing operations because you won’t need to resize your metal sheets in your factory.
Although you’ll still need to invest in cutting tools such as snips, hacksaws, nibblers, jigsaws, and band saws, you won’t use a lot of time cutting your sheet metal because the supplier will have done much of the cutting. A good thin steel sheet supplier may even visit your factory to get a more accurate idea of how you want your sheet metal to be made and delivered. The supplier should also deliver your thin sheet metal in time so that your manufacturing operations can run as scheduled. Given that the quality of your sheet metal will determine the overall quality of your products, you must trust a top sheet metal supplier near you to provide you with quality thin steel sheet.
3. Look for Fair and Affordable Rates
While thin sheet metal doesn’t come cheap, a good supplier will offer you affordable rates that will give you a better ROI. In North America, 69% of all steel is recycled each year, which accounts for over 80 million tons. As such, there’s enough supply of stainless steel for all industries in the United States. Reputable suppliers may buy steel in bulk and take advantage of the economies of scale. When you buy your thin steel sheet from these suppliers, you may enjoy better prices. With sheet metal being a major raw material for your manufacturing operations, you’ll make great savings when you buy thin steel sheet at a discount. This will help you manufacture more products and increase your company earnings.
When buying thin steel sheet for your manufacturing industry, know your desired thickness and buy from a reputable metal supplier who will deliver top-quality sheet metal at a great price. Such a dealer may also supply thin aluminum strips, copper, brass, and other combined metals.
Aluminum alloys are known for their excellent corrosion resistance, machinability, and weight-to-strength ratio. Different grades contain components that may include zinc, silicon, copper, and brass. The elements are included in the alloy to give it additional properties for a wide range of applications. Let’s delve into the characteristics of 6061 alloys.
6061 Corrosion and Cracking
6061 aluminum was the first alloy to demonstrate acceptable levels of resistance to stress and corrosion. The grade primarily contains Magnesium and Silicon elements. Other elements in descending order include iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and titanium.
The 6061 alloy contains copper, unlike other grades such as the 5052. That makes it more resistant to corrosion than other alloys. It has excellent corrosion-resistance performance against ammonia hydroxide and nitric acid.
Strength and Structural Applications
The 6061 aluminum is a medium-to-high strength alloy with many structural applications. The alloy has 0.2% Chromium, which gives it additional strength characteristics. It has a tensile strength between 20 and 42 KSI.
The alloy has excellent formability and weldability, which is why it is viable for a wide range of uses. It has enough strength and corrosion resistance for automotive, architectural, and structural applications. Manufacturers will often choose the grade for sheet metal assemblies, electronic parts, chemical tanks, among others.
Heat Treatment and Mechanical Properties
To improve the machining and mechanical properties of the alloy, aluminum alloys have to be heat treated. The 6061 alloys can respond to heat treatment. It is used for making automotive parts and construction materials.
The 6061 grade is treated in a solution and then aged to enhance its properties. 6061-T6 aluminum is aged artificially; then, it is heat-treated to maximize its strength.
6061 Versus 6063 Alloy
The 6000 series alloys all contain magnesium and silicon and are usually for architectural extrusions. The 6063 grade is a natural choice for many extrusion applications. Its main advantage over 6061 is that it is easy to forge it into complex shapes and forms. For that reason, manufacturers use it to make steel frames, irrigation tubing, storage tanks, and truck frames.
6061 aluminum offers higher performance than 6063. The 6061-T6 temper has a comparable strength to steel, making it suitable for applications where strength is crucial.
6061 Versus 7075
While the 6061 alloy contains silicon and magnesium, the primary alloying element for the 7000 series is Zinc. The 7075 has high strength, which manufacturers achieve through tempering the combined metals. It is the top choice for high-stress applications and can replace stainless steel.
Because it has negligible amounts of copper, it is less reliable when corrosion resistance is required. The 6061 aluminum has better workability, weldability, and is more versatile than the 7075 alloys. The applications for 7075 are mainly in the aerospace industry, where high strength and low weight are critical factors.
The 6061 alloy is one of the top choices for extrusion and is referred to as structural aluminum. It is versatile and corrosion-resistant, and it has a combination of good mechanical properties. You can use it to make thin sheet metal and a wide range of industrial applications.