Metal and Mechanics: How Steel Made the Modern Life

Metal sheet on roof

Sheet metal is a material used in construction and manufacturing, with applications in automobile production, construction and the aeronautics industry. It is used to build airplane wings, fuselages, vehicle bodies and medical tables. Sheet metal has also been used as part of decorative items since ancient times, but it was never produced in large quantities until the Industrial Revolution. It was only in 1783 when the sheet metal fabrication process was perfected, and sheet metal has been in use in every industry and every part of the world.

Many cities in Europe and North America were built around the steel industry, which consequently led to many other industries such as metal fabrication and automotive repair. These industries also use different tools and equipment like Baileigh bead rollers to form and shape metal. But manufacturing sheet metal requires different tools such as press brakes and hydraulics which all create our modern world. There’s no need to wonder why metal is the chosen material, especially when it possesses the following qualities.

Malleable and Versatile

Sheet metal is quite malleable; it’s easy to form, cut, or bend into shape without breaking or cracking. This is due to its thinness and low density. This makes sheet metal the best material when manufacturing different kinds of objects of all shapes and sizes.

Durable and Resistant

metal roofing

Although sheet metal is malleable, it can still be very tough and resilient. Additionally, sheet metal can withstand extreme conditions and high temperatures without warping or deforming. Moreover, the chemical treatment in the process of making sheet metal makes it resistant to moisture, UV rays, and corrosion. These same qualities make sheet metal the ideal material for airplane wings, agricultural machines, and even roofing due to its strength.

Easy to Transport and Deliver

Sheet metal is quite lightweight and often a third of an inch in thickness (if not thinner). This makes sheet metal not only easy to transport but also space-saving as it can be stacked on top of each other. Sheet metal is also easy to fabricate; this makes it possible to buy sheet metal almost anywhere, so you wouldn’t have to worry about where to get the material for your business or project.

Easy to Repair

Whether it’s a dent, a scratch, or a crack, sheet metal can easily be fixed. Any scratch can be burnished or polished smooth with a grinder. Dents can easily be filled or bent back with proper tools. Even cracks on sheet metals can be patched up. Even when corroded after long use or exposure to corrosive substances, sheet metal corrosion can be remedied with acid etching.

Different Materials, Different Applications

Sheet metal can be made from different kinds of metals, and this allows for one to have options in using sheet metal for different types of projects without limiting to only one type of metal. The common materials used for sheet metal are stainless steel, aluminum, brass or copper, each of which has different properties that would suit different applications. For example,  an aluminum sheet metal is highly malleable and highly anti-corrosive. It is ideal to use in jewelry and appliances. Steel is best used for welding and is often used in the automotive industry.

Sheet metal is a popular and staple material for many reasons; such as its lightweight quality, durability, and ease of use. Modern civilization cannot exist without steel, and the qualities of this material make it all the more important for the march of civilization.