Whether you’re an engineer or a manufacturer, you’ll often work with metal. It’s one of the world’s most important materials, and it’s a crucial part of skyscrapers, vehicles, and even the components within your phone. However, when it comes to producing different metal components, it’s difficult to know which method is the most effective – either for your personal project or for your manufacturing line. In this short guide, we’ll look at the methods at your disposal to make metal components for different purposes.
One of the more exciting developments in the realm of 3D printing in recent years has been the development of metal 3D printing, which promises to make parts for everything from rocket thrusters to the back of your television set. This process involves an expensive piece of hardware, which is why it has not yet been adopted by companies that already own machinery that can cut metal and produce components. However, it is seen as the cutting edge of the field because it can make incredibly complex 3D shapes. That’s why we’re seeing this technology applied to the rocket thrusters of some of the world’s most advanced technology.
There’s more than one way to cut metal into the shapes and components you’re after. You can use a plasma metal cutter or a pressurized water jet. You can even use a laser, which beams high energy at a tiny part of the metal before being moved by a steady robotic arm in order to cut a precise shape. All of these options involve firing something at the metal, which creates perfect sides. You can learn more about all of them by looking through the website of Kerf Developments, where each technique and machine is displayed and explained.
Instead of cutting, some firms prefer to operate a furnace in which they melt the metal down and pour it into casts to set and solidify. Clearly, this is a highly energy-intensive process because the melting point of the metal is incredibly high. Even though manufacturers are attempting to clean up their processes, this is one that it’s difficult for most firms to justify. Still, it’s used for the largest metal components, such as the steel beams that support the world’s skyscrapers.
While some water-jet cutters and plasma cutters are handhelds, they’re more expensive for the amateur hobbyist than simple handheld mechanical devices. Even a set of pliers qualifies as a metal cutter, though you’ll then have to use buffers to make sure your edges are even and uniform. There are slightly more advanced handheld devices that you’ll find in most workshops that’ll often do the job for thinner sheets of metal. You’ll also find a metal saw – often with diamond-tilted edges – which are brilliant for a crude job of spectating metal sheets into parts that you can work with more easily. These are options that are best for the hobbyist engineer.
There you have it: four different ways to shape and cut metal in order to produce the components that we see all around us in the world.
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