Sheet metal fabrication is often confused with CNC machining, but the two processes are very different. While there are benefits of each technique, sheet metal fabrication often provides the more cost effective and time efficient solution. 

Here’s a closer look at the major differences you need to know. 

What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication? 

Sheet metal fabrication creates parts and components from raw sheet metal materials. This process utilizes techniques such as laser cutting, welding, bending and punching to achieve the desired product. Typically, sheets of metal are cut with lasers to a desired size and shape, then welded together to create a metal component. 

What Is Machining? 

Machine shops generally start their process with a thicker block of metal, rather than a sheet. Machining involves sculpting the metal by removing excess materials to create the desired shape. This process utilizes sawing, milling and drilling techniques to achieve an end product. As you can imagine, this process takes time to do right, and extra time will generally lead to higher costs. 

Breaking Down the Differences

Specific applications may require the work of sheet metal fabrications, while other designs may depend on CNC machining. More often than not, sheet metal fabrication can be applied to machining designs to simplify the process and achieve quicker lead times.  

Important benefits of sheet metal fabrication and CNC machining that set the two apart include: 

Sheet Metal Fabrication

  • Produces thin, lightweight components, such as thin metal walls, device panels, boxes, chassis and brackets
  • Able to produce seamless product walls, providing increased security and aesthetics
  • Cost effective solution, building metal designs for as low as a tenth of the cost it takes for machining
  • Utilizes laser cutting which guarantees a high-quality surface finish

CNC Machining

  • Computer guided machines remove the possibility of human error, resulting in incredibly precise designs
  • Produces specific metal material shapes, such as round, square, rectangular, rods or tubing, which may be beneficial for your specific application
  • Can result in complex shapes, parts and components that can be customized to meet your specific needs

Blackstone Advanced Technologies is a sheet metal fabrication facility. Our precise laser cutting, variety of forming services and AWS certified welders can simplify your designs and provide a high-quality product that meets your specific requirements. 

Want to learn more about sheet metal fabrication? 

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