Sheet Metal Fabrication FAQs

Take a look at all the sheet metal fabrication frequently asked questions. Click the buttons below to be taken to the relevant FAQ section.

Welding FAQs

What are the 4 types of welding?

The four main types of welding are:

  • Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW/MIG)
    Also known as Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding, it is the process of using a thin wire as an electrode. The wire is fed through the torch and heated to create a welding pool. A shielding gas must be used to protect the weld from contaminants in the air.
  • Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW/TIG)
    Otherwise known as Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. TIG welding uses a separate electrode to produce the weld and needs a shielding gas to protect the weld pool from contaminants. TIG welding is a more complex form of welding and typically creates higher quality and stronger welds.
  • Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW)
    Also known as Stick welding, it uses a consumable electrode that is coated in flux to create the welds. it does not require a shielding gas to weld and is a more popular welding method for small welding shop owners due to it’s cost effectiveness. In general, stick welds are less durable than other forms of welds.
  • Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
    Flux-cored arc Welding is very similar to MIG welding because it uses a continuous wire feed. FCAW does not need a shielding gas to protect the weld, as the flux core does that for you. It is ideally suited for welding outdoors and can be used in windy conditions.
What is TIG Welding?

Tungsten inert gas welding (TIG welding) is the process of welding using electricity to melt and join pieces of metal together. It combines an electrode, which heats the metal, and a gas (typically Argon) which protects the weld puddle from airborne contaminants. It was initially invented in the 1940s as a better way to weld magnesium and aluminium together; it is now a widely used practice due to its versatility, cleanliness, and minimal finishing requirements.

What is MIG Welding?

Metal Inert Gas Welding (MIG Welding) is the most common type of welding. It is an arc welding process in which a continuous solid wire electrode is fed through a welding gun into the weld pool. This brings the two base materials together, forming a join. MIG welding also uses a shielding gas to protect the weld pool from airborne contaminants.

What is the difference between MIG and TIG welding?

The difference between the two is how the arc is used. In MIG welding, a wire feed constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, which melts to form the weld. In TIG welding, long, handheld rods are manually fed into the weld puddle while the electrical current is varied with either a torch-mounted control or a foot pedal.

How do you ensure you protect your welders from dangerous fumes?

We work hard to ensure that our welders are protected from harmful fumes. We use extraction LEVs at every station and have air masks for each welder. Extraction LEVs (Local Exhaust Ventilation) capture and remove hazardous fumes from the workplace, keeping the individual welder safe and the whole workshop. Air masks protect the individual welder from dangerous fumes by stopping the fumes from entering their personal breathing space.

What does BS EN 1090 compliant mean?

BS EN 1090 is an industry requirement for structural steel, stainless steel and aluminium products sold in the UK and Europe. From July 1st 2014, any structural steel components or kits made in the UK must comply. The legislation aims to standardise the safety performance of construction products. BS EN 1090-compliant products can then carry either the CE mark in Europe or the UKCA mark in the UK.

How are welds tested?

There are two main categories for testing welds: destructive testing and non-destructive testing.

Destructive testing involves cutting apart the weld to analyse it in more detail and to conduct further tests such as bend testing. This is commonly used when testing welders and their knowledge of welding procedures.

Non-destructive testing tests welds that are part of a completed product. Various methods can be used to do this, such as dye penetrant testing, mag particle testing, ultrasonic testing, and X-ray testing, all of which leave no lasting damage on the finished product.

Laser Cutting FAQs

What is Laser Cutting?

There are numerous types of laser cutting systems currently on the market. Our laser uses a 10KW Bystronic/IPG laser source which produces a beam. The beam is transmitted through a fiber optic cable to the cutting head. The beam is then focused through a series of optics within the head. The beam is set explicitly for each different type and thickness of the material.

The laser uses high-pressure oxygen or nitrogen gas to blow the molten metal through the cut. The laser head is moved around the raw material using a series of linear drives. The power delivered by the fiber source and the position of the cutting head is controlled by the nested profiles created by CAD.

Why use a fiber laser cutter?

Fiber laser cutting machines are powerful and extremely precise; they can cut up to 5 times faster than a standard CO2 laser. They can also cut through reflective materials such as brass and copper without worrying whether the reflection will damage the machine.

How accurate is laser cutting?

Laser cutting is a precise machine cutting method; it is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to cut any material. Laser cutting is controlled by computers which results in cuts with very low tolerances.

What metals can be laser cut?

Our laser cutter is versatile and can cut different types of metal, including Steel, Mild Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, Brass and Copper.

We can also cut a range of parts from tiny pieces measuring only a few centimetres right up to large pieces that have been made into large tanks and hoppers. We are also able to cut intricate patterns and details out.

What are the advantages of using a laser cutter?

The main advantages of laser cutting are precision and efficiency. The beam on a laser cutter is very small, so it targets a much smaller area of the sheet metal and produces highly accurate and focused cuts with less material contamination in the cut area.

Laser cutting also allows for high levels of repeatability. Complex software optimises sheet utilisation and machine speed to ensure accurately cut parts. As the laser cutter never makes contact with the metal, parts are cut without variation in the cut, meaning consistent results every time.

Sheet Metal Folding FAQs

What is sheet metal bending?

Sheet metal bending involves applying pressure to sheet metal, causing the metal to bend and deform, creating a radius. It is the art of folding, bending, and pressing metal into a predetermined shape. A press brake machine, which uses a punch and a die to create the desired bend radius, is often used to bend the metal.

 

What is the sheet metal folding process?

Folding sheet metal consists of positioning the sheet metal over the die block; the metal is then pressed into the die block, causing the bend. When bending occurs, there is a certain level of spring-back that happens. This needs to be compensated for in the initial calculations of the bend to ensure that the bend is completed correctly. This differs for each type of material.

 

What machinery is used to fold sheet metal?

The most common way to fold sheet metal is with a press brake machine. We currently have 6 CNC press brakes here at D&M.

Wht is a bend radius?

The bend radius in sheet metal fabrication refers to the inside of the bend. The bend radius depends on the dies used in the process.

When bending sheet metal, there is a certain degree of spring-back, this varies for each type of material, but this does mean that to get the correct result, you must over calculate the bend to allow for the spring-back.

What materials can be CNC folded?

CNC press brakes can fold a variety of materials including:

  • Mild Steel
  • Coated steels
  • Stainless steel
  • Aluminium
  • Alloys

CAD Design FAQs

What is CAD?

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) employs computers to assist in creating, analysing or optimising a specific design. CAD is used to streamline the design process for engineers and can be used to make detailed 2D drawings and 3D models of real-world products before they are ever manufactured. They allow designers to visualise height, width, distance and material before the product is manufactured.

In addition, CAD software is used to increase the designer’s productivity, improve the quality of the design, improve consistency, and creates a database for manufacturing.

What is CAM?

Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the use of software to build components. CAM tells manufacturing equipment such as laser cutters how to accurately and efficiently manufacture parts and complete jobs.

What is the difference between CAD & CAM?

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the process of creating detailed drawings with accurate measurements and dimensions. Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) is the process of telling manufacturing machines how to make specific parts. The two are often used in conjunction: CAD designs and CAM builds.

What CAD software do you use?

At D&M Design and Fabrication Ltd, we utilise industry-leading CAD software to deliver design solutions tailored to our clients’ needs. Our primary CAD software is SolidWorks, a powerful 3D modelling tool known for its robust features and versatility. Additionally, we leverage Radan for sheet metal design and fabrication, allowing us to efficiently create accurate designs and optimise manufacturing processes for our clients.

Do you have experience working in our industry?

We have experience working with a variety off sectors including automotive, construction, food manufacturing, furniture manufacturing, motorsport, agriculture and many more.

Powder Coating FAQs

What is Powder Coating?

Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder. The powder may be a thermoplastic or a thermoset polymer. It is usually used to create a more brutal hard finish than conventional paint and primarily to coat metals.

The method involves using an electrostatic spray gun to apply a powder that contains pigments and resins. More advanced technologies allow other materials, such as plastics, composites, carbon fibre, and MDF, to be powder coated using different methods that require less heat and time.

What is the powder coating process?

The powder coating process comprises three stages: preparing the part, applying the powder coating, and curing the part. Preparing the surface is an essential part of the powder coating process. If you don’t properly prepare the surface by degreasing and washing it, the powder coating won’t stick to the surface.

What is involved in the curing stage?

The curing stage of powder coating is when you bake the coated surface in the oven to ensure that it meets the optimum temperature. Once the part has met the optimum temperature the powder melts and fuses together causing an even finish to the surface.

What materials can be powder coated?

Any material that can withstand an electrical charge and temperatures that exceed 180’C can be powder coated. This is most metals, including steel, stainless steel and aluminium.

How do you protect your powder coaters from the spray?

Although powder coating is non-toxic, we still want to ensure that our powder coaters are protected from exposure to the powder. We ensure that all our powder coaters are provided with protective clothing and ventilation masks. This helps reduce the amount of direct skin contact and prevents them from breathing in the powders.

Deburring FAQs

What is Deburring?

Deburring refers to removing sharp edges or burrs from a material leaving behind smooth edges. The most common methods that result in burrs are milling, drilling, engraving and turning. You can expect deburring during procedures such as laser/plasma cutting, punching and shearing.

You could adopt various methods to complete deburring, including manual deburr, electrochemical, thermal energy, cryogenic and mechanical. We use a range of deburring methods, including manual deburring and machine deburring to make sure that all our products are completed to a high standard. We understand that every job is different and each part or project needs to be treated accordingly which is why we have different methods of deburring available onsite.

What are burrs, and what causes them?

Burr is the rough, unwanted edges or ridges on the metal formed after fabrication. It is most commonly caused by cutting or welding processes. For the work to be completed to a high standard, burrs must be removed.

How do you remove burrs?

Burrs are removed using a process called deburring. We use various methods to remove burrs from our fabricated parts; deburring discs, rumblers and sanders. We have automatic, semi-automatic, and manual machines to ensure that the result is always of the highest standard.

What is HAVS, and how do you protect your workers from it?

HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome) is caused by exposure to vibrations; it can take as little as 6months for HAVS to take hold. HAVS can cause pain, tingling and total loss of feeling, loss of fine motor skills, reduced strength and grip, muscle wastage and Reynaud’s disease. This can affect the user’s ability to work and do little tasks such as buttoning up a shirt. HAVS is a preventable disease but not a curable disease.

We use HAVSco monitoring systems to monitor each user’s vibration dosage. They monitor the vibrations imparted on the hands and fingers. These systems then give a visual alarm if the user has exceeded the action limit or legal limit of HSE points for the task, telling the user to stop.

Why do you use ceramic media in the rumbler?

Ceramic media can be used for a variety of finishing applications, their bulk density allows them to exert a high pressure on the parts and therefore easily remove burrs. It also leaves a bright surface finish on the parts once completed.

Fastener Insertion FAQs

What types of fastener installation services do you offer?

We offer both manual and automated fastener installation services. Our top-of-the-range machine enables us to offer both options to our customers. We can install fasteners ranging in size from M2 to M12.

What materials can you install fasteners into?

We can install fasteners in various materials, including stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminium.

How do you ensure the quality and reliability of fastener installations?

Our quality assurance team are always on hand to ensure that we consistently provide high-quality products.

Finishing and Assembly FAQs

What is HAVS, and how do you protect your workers from it?

HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome) is caused by exposure to vibrations; it can take as little as 6months for HAVS to take hold. HAVS can cause pain, tingling and total loss of feeling, loss of fine motor skills, reduced strength and grip, muscle wastage and Reynaud’s disease. This can affect the user’s ability to work and do little tasks such as buttoning up a shirt. HAVS is a preventable disease but not a curable disease.

We use HAVSco monitoring systems to monitor each user’s vibration dosage. They monitor the vibrations imparted on the hands and fingers. These systems then give a visual alarm if the user has exceeded the action limit or legal limit of HSE points for the task, telling the user to stop.

What are metal finishes?

Metal finishes are a range of treatments and processes that are applied to metal surfaces to enhance their appearance, durability and resistance to corrosion.

What are the different finishes of stainless steel?

There are a wide range of finishes available for stainless steel including brushed finish, mirror finish, bead blasted, electropolished, powder coated and more.

What is bead blasting?

Bead blasting is the process of firing high pressure, small, glass or steel beads at a components surface, this adds a smooth uniform satin finish to the part.

Will sandblasted stainless steel rust?

Some stainless steel will eventually rust, it depends on the percentage of chromium in the alloy. Sandblasting doesn’t prevent rust as it isn’t an anti-corrosion technique. Sand blasting is designed to prepare the the surface allowing you to then add an anti-corrosive finish such as powder coating which will help to prevent rust.

Precision Engineering FAQs

What is Precision Engineering?

Precision engineering is a form of engineering that focuses on designing and developing parts to a very high level of accuracy and repeatability. The products made must meet extremely tight tolerances and exact specifications.

Why choose CNC machining?

CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machining is more precise. The computer controls every cut, ensuring that every cut is accurate. CNC machines can cut to 0.001″. The accuracy of these machines cuts down on errors and wastage.

CNC machining is more cost-effective too, this is due to the fact that one operator can run multiple machines simultaneously which reduces the need for one operator per machine.

What materials can be machined?

There is a wide selection of materials that we can machine at D&M. Including:

  • Steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Mild steel
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
What is the difference between CNC Turning & CNC Milling?

CNC turning is a type of precision engineering in which rods of raw material are rotated whilst a tool cuts away at the bar. The device is programmed to move the tool to the rod of raw material, cutting away at it until it is left with the programmed desired result. Depending on how many tools the turret can hold, the part can be complex. The more tools available, the more complicated it can be.

CNC milling works in the opposite way to turning; the cutting tool rotates at high speed, removing material from a fixed block of raw material. The tools spin at thousands of RPM, enabling them to cut through even the most robust materials.

Computer programs control both the turning and milling processes. These are used to manage the cuts of the customised part; this allows for high-quality, accurate, bespoke parts to be manufactured.

What is the difference between accuracy and precision?

Accuracy and precision are two very important disciplines of precision engineering.

Precision refers to the consistency and repeatability of the measurements. High precision means that the measurement is highly reliable.

Accuracy refers to how close a measure value is to the actual value. High accuracy means that the measurement is correct and free from error.

3D Scanning FAQs

What is 3D Scanning?

3D scanning is the process of scanning a real world part, collecting data including measurements and appearance and creating a digital model of that part.

Can you scan at my premises?

Our scanner is completely portable so we are happy to scan either at your premises or ours.

Does 3D scanning damage the part?

Our 3D scanner is non-contact meaning that it will not damage the part in anyway.

We sometimes use AESUB scanning scanning spray which dissolves on it’s own, there is no pigment in the spray and no cleaning is required.

3D Printing FAQs

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing can also be known as additive manufacturing, it is the process of creating three dimensional physical objects using a computer model or file. The 3D object is made by the heated nozzle laying down layers of consecutive filament, typically plastic filament, until the part is completely formed.

What is FDM 3D printing?

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a type of 3D printing technology that creates three-dimensional objects by depositing and solidifying successive layers of material, typically a thermoplastic filament, layer by layer.

In an FDM 3D printer, the material is fed from a spool and melted by a heating element before being extruded through a nozzle that moves along the X and Y axes to create the object. The 3D printer then moves the print head along the Z axis to build the object layer by layer.

FDM 3D printing is a popular choice for prototyping, modeling, and creating small-scale parts because of its affordability and ease of use. FDM 3D printing is a valuable tool for many industries, including architecture, engineering, and product design.

What materials can be used for 3D printing?

Our 3D printer has the capability of Continuous Fibre Reinforcement (CFR). This process reinforces parts with high-strength continuous fibres. CFR machines use two extrusion systems, one that extrudes the composite base and another for long stand continuous fibres.

Composite Base Materials:

Onyx

Flexural Strength: 71 MPa

Onyx is a micro carbon fiber-filled nylon. It’s 1.4 times stronger and stiffer than ABS and can be reinforced with continuous fibre. Onyx sets the bar for surface finish, chemical resistivity, and heat tolerance.

Onyx FR

Flexural Strength: 71 MPa

Onyx FR is a Blue Card-certified UL94 V-0 material with similar mechanical properties to Onyx. It’s best for applications in which flame retardancy, lightweight, and strength are required.

Onyx ESD

Flexural Strength: 83 MPa

Onyx ESD is a static dissipative safe variant of Onyx — meeting stringent ESD safety requirements while offering excellent strength, stiffness, and surface finish. It’s best used in applications that require ESD-safe materials.

Nylon

Flexural Strength: 50 MPa

Nylon White parts are smooth, non-abrasive, and quickly painted. They can be reinforced with continuous fibre and work best for non-marring work holding, repeated handling, and cosmetic parts.

Continuous Fibre Materials:

Carbon Fiber

Flexural Strength: 540 MPa

Carbon Fiber has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of our reinforcing fibres. Six times stronger and eighteen times stiffer than Onyx, Carbon Fibre reinforcement is commonly used for parts that replace machined aluminium.

Fibreglass

Flexural Strength: 200 MPa

Fibreglass is a continuous fibre that provides high strength at an accessible price. 2.5 times stronger and eight times stiffer than Onyx, Fibreglass reinforcement results in strong, robust tools.

Kevlar®

Flexural Strength: 240 MPa

Kevlar® possesses excellent durability, making it optimal for parts that experience repeated and sudden loading. As stiff as fibreglass and much more ductile, it can be used for various applications.

HSHT Fiberglass

Flexural Strength: 420 MPa

High Strength High Temperature (HSHT) Fibreglass exhibits aluminium strength and high heat tolerance. Five times as strong and seven times as stiff as Onyx, it’s best used for parts loaded in high operating temperatures.

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is an integral part of the user interface design process; it allows designers and product managers to test new concepts and theories on a 3D prototype, testing things like shape, size and usability.

General FAQs

How do you ensure the quality of your work?

We ensure that all work leaving our workshop maintains consistent high standards. We do this through a variety of ways including weld coding, dye penetrant testing, checking accuracy and tolerances of parts as well as checking the quality of craftmanship.

Our commitment to delivering consistently high-quality products is why we are BS EN 1090 certified. We produce first-rate steel fabrication that is suitable for use in structural work in both the UK.

What services do you offer?
What materials do you work with?

We work with a range of metals including:

  • Mild Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Aluminium
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Zinc
What industries do you serve?

We serve a wide range of industries including;

  • Automotive
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Furniture
  • Motorsport
  • Rail
  • Marine

We work with a variety of industries, if you can’t see your sector on the list please get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Can you handle large-scale projects?

We can handle projects in a variety of sizes everything from really small to large scale projects. We have experience working on some large projects. If you would like to know more please get in touch.

How do I get a quote for a project?

To get a quote for an upcoming project please email all the information you have including drawings to sales@dmdesignfabrication.co.uk. If you would like to talk to a member of our sales team first then please call 01765 522 222.