Metal forming is the process of changing a metal’s shape to make it a marketable product. There are 87 metals in the periodic table, almost all of which are used by humans in some capacity; roughly a third of those metals can be found in commonly used objects. The demand for metal products throughout industry, commerce, and consumer settings is enormous and grows every day. Almost none of those metals reach their end-users without first being processed in some way.
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Metal forming, or metal shaping, is one of the most basic kinds of metal processing, and yet shaped metal products are involved in a vast amount of products used by people around the world. Shaped gold rings are used as a symbol of marriage, and gold often plays an important role in making symbols appear on the screens of consumer electronics. In both cases, a metal forming process must be applied to the gold in order to make it usable.
Metal forming is commonly used to make these products:
- Building Materials
- Transportation Equipment
There are two main categories of metal forming/fabrication. Each process accommodates different kinds of metals and makes different kinds of shapes. The first, heavy fabrication, involves the production of metal products for use in large applications. Fabricated metal products for use in bridge construction, ship building, aerospace vessel design, and other large-scale applications all belong to this category. All other fabricated metal products for use in smaller-scale applications belong to the category of light fabrication. Stainless steel kitchenware, metal trim, and aluminum grating are all examples of light fabrication.
The processes by which both light and heavy fabricated products are created include:
Roll forming is among the most common metal shaping processes, as it is used to create all manner of metal shapes. It is a cold forming process, which means that it can shape metals without the application of extreme heat. Roll forming systems involve a long series of rollers of varying configurations; each roller system in the sequence is positioned in a slightly different way, which gradually bends the metal passing through them. By the time the metal passes through the last set of rollers, it has been bent into its final shape.