Sheet metal is a material that has gotten applications in different industries – ranging from automotive to aerospace and consumer electronics manufacturing. And, for each industry, most manufacturers tend to require different sizes and configurations of the material.
This has led to the rise of different metal shearing process options. These are essentially different ways through which the metal can be cut in order to achieve the desired outcome.
In this article, we’ll answer the big question – what is the metal shearing process? We’ll also examine the different types, the exact process involved, and answer major questions that you might have about this overall workflow.
Introduction – What Is The Metal Shearing Process?
Sheet metal shearing is a metal-forming process that involves the removal of unwanted metal sheet parts. The process is performed using several specialized tools, ranging from die punches to deformers and other items.
For the shearing process in sheet metal, sheets are fabricated into multiple components – all of which can now be used to manufacture different items. The metal material itself is cut precisely and accurately, with the objective being the overall removal of any unwanted or unrequired particles. Accuracy is the name of the game here, and the shearing sheet metal process helps to achieve that optimally.
Many manufacturers also love the shearing metal process because it doesn’t take much heat or produce much waste. Compared to a lot of other metal forming processes, the sheet metal forming shearing process is known for being especially ideal in times when efficiency is the most significant priority across the board.
All in all, shearing refers to the specific process where metal sheets are cut down to the most accurate size. Two opposing forces are pushed against each other, thus generating significant stress that would eventually make it possible for the inner surfaces of the sheets to slide past each other as they separate.
Shearing is important on several fronts, of course. The process is effective and versatile, providing optimal accuracy in cutting. And, when you consider that the shearing process in sheet metal doesn’t cause much in terms of waste, it becomes even more attractive to most manufacturers.
Now, if you’re a newbie to the industry, you might be asking – is metal shearing a hot working process? Well, this isn’t quite true. Metal shearing doesn’t require the metal to be heated to work, so it isn’t a hot working process. Nevertheless, the fact that both processes help to provide optimal accuracy in metal measurements makes it easy for people to confuse them.
Overview of the Shearing Process
Now that we understand the purpose of the shearing process in sheet metal, let’s also consider the steps and how the process itself is being carried out:
Setup For The Shear:
The first step of the shearing sheet metal process is the setup for the shear itself.
A traditional shearing machine will come with a stationary upper blade and a lower blade that moves and implements the cuts. You place the metal between these two plates, essentially setting it up for the cutting process.
Next in the sheet shearing process is the clamping stage. This is quite important as it helps to prevent any movement of the metal within the shearing tool. As expected, this ensures optimal accuracy and precision while the process is being carried out.
Once everything is set, you activate the shearing process. The lower blade moves against the upper one, with both blades passing within a cutting distance. All in all, the shearing machine exerts a significant amount of force to cut through the sheet metal.
This force is applied across a linear cutting line, usually close to the edge of the sheet.
When done right, the shearing process is expected to make a clean cut through the metal plate. However, other factors that could affect the quality of the shearing manufacturing process could include the sharpness of the blade, the material’s properties, and the overall cutting clearance. So, it is important to keep an eye out for those as well.
The final stage of the shearing process in manufacturing would usually be the separation of the upper and lower plates. The cut piece is also separated from the main piece, and the entire shearing machine process can be repeated as many times as possible.
As expected, it is worth noting that these processes tend to vary across the board. So, while this is the general flow at Tuolian Metal, several manufacturers could decide to change things up a little bit.
We recommend getting in touch with us to learn more about our sheet metal forming shearing process, so you can get additional clarity.
Basic Components & Equipment Used In The Shearing Process
In order to optimize the efficiency of your sheet metal shearing process, several tools need to be applied. The major options include:
The Shearing Machine:
Of course, you can’t have a shearing process in sheet metal if you don’t get a shear. The machine consists of a fixed shape, as well as both a fixed upper blade and a moving lower blade. When both blades collide, the material is eventually cut.
The backguage consists of an adjustable stop and a measuring device that helps ensure proper placement of the metal sheet within the shearing machine. Since you want an accurate cut, this component is very important.
Besides the backguage, you also want to use a clamping mechanism to ensure that the sheet metal is stable. The clamp holds the metal in place, so the latter doesn’t move while it is being cut.
With the control panel, manufacturers have optimal oversight of the entire shearing process. The panel allows you to set different parameters, from cutting length and speed to the cutting angle and more.
Generally, shearing machines make use of mechanical or hydraulic systems to generate the amount of force required to get a clean cut. Hydraulic systems have become especially popular since they provide the perfect mix of precision and power.
While shearing isn’t necessarily a dangerous process, it is still important to ensure optimal safety. From emergency stop buttons to safety guards and even sensors that help to detect any irregularities, the role of these components in ensuring optimal safety can’t possibly be overemphasized.
Types of Shearing Processes
Now that we understand the sheet metal forming, shearing, and cutting process, let’s also look into the different types of shearing processes that are usually employed by most manufacturers:
Most newbies tend to go with the straight shearing process because of its ease of application. Here, sheet metal is cut along a straight line with the use of both blades. For creating straight, simple shapes, the straight shearing process is especially ideal.
This shearing process is quite similar to the straight shearing setup. The major difference, however, is that guillotine shearing uses a different pattern where the upper blade descends vertically from the top and lands on the metal plate – while the lower blade is held stationary.
Guillotine shearing is mostly done with ticker materials. It produces more force and can cut for much longer, so thicker materials won’t stand a chance against it.
In angle shearing, the metal plate is cut at an angle – as opposed to a straight line. Adjustable stops and custom blades are required to create the right cuts, and this hearing method is especially popular in instances where beveled edges are needed.
Also known as crop trimming, this shearing process is required when edges and particles along the metal frame need to be taken out. It ensures clean edges and dimensional accuracy, thus bolstering the overall outcome of the shearing material.
The blanking process is used to create a flat, geometrically shaped piece from a much larger metal sheet. A desired shape is achieved due to shearing, while scrap metal is left as a by-product. In many cases, this type of shearing helps to create materials that would need to undergo additional forms of machining.
In notching, a portion of the sheet metal is removed along its edge – thus creating some form of indentation or notch. The process is mostly used to facilitate bending and assembly operations, and it is becoming quite popular among manufacturers.
Popular Shearing Techniques
When it comes to metal fabrication, different shearing techniques can be applied to achieve different outcomes and objectives.
The shearing techniques vary in terms of flexibility and versatility, making it possible for you to make different cutting possibilities. Some of the techniques commonly used in this scope include:
We already explained this, of course. Straight shearing is simple and straightforward, and it primarily helps in the development of simple shapes for metals.
In circular shearing, sheet metal is cut in a curved or circular pattern. The technique uses custom blades with a circular cutting edge to achieve the right shape, eventually leading to rounded cutouts in the sheet metal material.
There are cases where you might need to cut sheet metal into narrower coils or sheets. For this, slitting is more of a popular method. Here, parallel cuts are made along the metal’s length, leading to different strips of equal widths.
This technique takes the traditional slitting technique a little bit further, using multiple cuts that operate simultaneously in order to create different narrow strips in a single pass. In high-volume production processes, multi-slitting can help to increase efficiency and production volume by a considerable degree.
Also known as vee cutting, this process involves the removal of a v-shaped notch from the corner of the sheet metal. The process is mostly used to create joints or improve the efficiency of bending operations, thus making it easier for production operations to be carried out.
In step shearing, different sequential cuts are made on the metal at various depths or levels. The result is a series of stair-like cuts, which would eventually make it easier for you to apply the metal in specific manufacturing operations.
Compound shearing is one of the most complex shearing techniques out there. In this process, multiple cuts are made with different blade configurations. The result is the creation of complex contours or shapes, all of which won’t be possible with most other shearing techniques.
For most manufacturers, compound shearing uses a mixture of straight, curved, and angled cuts.
In general, your choice of a cut will usually depend on factors such as the metal’s thickness, the desired shape, and the production requirements themselves.
Factors Affecting Shearing Process
In metal fabrication, you have multiple factors that could affect the success of your shearing process. Understanding them will help you to achieve optimal success, and the most popular of these factors include:
Material Type & Thickness
You want to be especially conversant with the type and thickness of the material in question. Different materials – from steel to aluminum – have their own physical properties, and these can affect the success of your cutting process.
For thicker materials as well, you’d need to make modifications to the blades so they can handle the load and provide the power needed to cut through the material once and for all.
The blade is surely one of the most important factors that can help improve the accuracy of your cut. You want to ensure that it is sharp and properly designed, so you can get a cut that’s as clean as possible.
The cutting clearance measures the gap between the upper and lower blades. And, as you’d expect, it plays a significant role in determining the efficiency of your cutting process. If the cutting clearance is insufficient, you could be left with a sub-optimal, blurry cut that doesn’t necessarily serve your interests.
When determining cutting clearance, keep factors such as material thickness and hardness into consideration.
Blade Rake Angle
The rake angle considers the angle at which the cutting edge of the blade strikes the metal. It also puts the blade’s force into consideration.
Like the cutting clearance, you need to consider the type and thickness of the material when determining the appropriate blade rake angle.
As expected, you need to properly set the machine up to ensure that it is ready to make an appropriate cut. Blades need to be properly aligned, the clamps need to be in place, and the cutting parameters need to be set appropriately.
Cooling & Lubrication
While the overall shearing process doesn’t necessarily lead to much heat production, it is worth noting that cooling and lubrication can play significant roles in helping to improve the shearing process’ efficiency.
Skill & Technique
Finally, it’s also important to consider the skill and technique of the operator. Everything could go right mechanically, but the level of skill displayed by the operator is also critical in driving the right shearing solution.
Advantages and Limitations of the Shearing Process
Like many forming operations, the metal shearing process is a double-edged sword. It offers several benefits, although there are limitations as well. Below is a breakdown of it all:
Advantages of Metal Shearing:
- Cost-Effective: Shearing is a cost-effective cutting method, especially for straight cuts and simple shapes. It requires minimal tooling and setup, making it a cost-efficient choice, particularly for high-volume production.
- High Speed: Shearing is a fast-cutting process, allowing for rapid material removal and high production rates. This speed is a very underrated benefit.
- Accuracy: Shearing machines are usually calibrated to provide optimal precision. The fixed upper blade and moving lower blade ensure consistent cutting along the desired line, resulting in clean, straight edges and dimensional accuracy.
- Clean Edges: Shearing produces clean, burr-free edges on the cut metal. Thanks to this, you don’t need to have any additional finishing processes.
- Material Conservation: Thanks to its accuracy, shearing takes out only the right amount of material along the cutting line. This reduces waste and helps you to get the most out of the metal.
- Versatility: You can apply the shearing process on different metal options. Just as well, the process’s ability to handle different sizes and thickness profiles speaks well of it.
Limitations of Metal Shearing:
- Straight Cuts Only: In most cases, you’ll find that shearing only works best when you have to make straight cuts. That said, there are shearing techniques that help to make complex cuts as well.
- Thickness Limitation: Shearing has limitations regarding the thickness of the material it can effectively cut. Thicker materials may require higher cutting forces and specialized equipment.
- Limited Hole Shapes: Shearing is not the optimal method for creating holes or detailed cutouts. Other processes such as punching or laser cutting are better suited for creating precise holes and intricate shapes.
- Edge Distortion: In some cases, shearing can cause slight edge distortion or bowing, especially with longer cuts. This may require additional flattening or straightening processes.
- Material Properties: The properties of sheet metal, such as hardness and ductility, can affect the shearing process. Certain materials may pose challenges in terms of blade wear, cutting force, or cutting quality.
- Noise and Vibration: Shearing machines can generate noise and vibration during operation, requiring appropriate safety measures and noise control in the working environment.
It’s important to consider these advantages and limitations of metal shearing when selecting the appropriate cutting method for specific metal fabrication requirements.
Applications of Shearing Process
Metal shearing has become very popular among manufacturers and technicians across multiple fields. Some of the most important include:
Metal shearing is used to make metal sheets in different sizes and configurations. Pretty much any industry that uses metal will have a use for metal shearing since the process helps to provide precisely-cut metal sheets.
Production & Manufacturing:
Product manufacturers use metal shearing to develop concepts with sheet metal profiles. In most cases, these components will be further reprocessed in order to create finished products.
Metal shearing is especially popular among HVAC technicians, who use the process to produce duct work, air vents, and other components of a building’s overall HVAC system.
Roofing & Siding:
In roofing and siding, metal shearing helps to provide precise and accurate cuts that will be fashioned into roofs. This is especially true in cases where custom cuts need to be achieved.
Vehicles need metal components like frames, body panels, and other structural elements. With metal shearing, these components can be produced at scale, and fashioned into the appropriate shapes – no matter how complex or unique.
Furniture & Shelving:
Metal shearing can also help in manufacturing furniture and shelves – as well as support mechanisms for these products to thrive.
Safety Considerations in Shearing Process
In any metal fabrication process, safety precautions are crucial. And, metal shearing follows that rule as well. By prioritizing some of these, it is possible to ensure that your shearing process is as hitch-free and safe as possible:
- Machine Guarding: You want to make sure that your shearing machine is properly guarded. This way, no one has access to the machine while the actual cutting is going on. So, barriers should be placed around the machine – and, especially the cutting zone.
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): The use of PPE – from safety goggles to protective gloves and footwear – should also not be overlooked. Everyone working in and around the shearing machine should keep this in mind.
- Training: Only skilled and trained operators should be allowed to handle the shearing machine. Technicians should be familiar with the machine’s features and safety parameters, and regular re-training should be implemented to ensure that they remain conversant with all of its intricacies.
- Machine Maintenance: You want to ensure proper maintenance of your shearing machine to ensure that it holds its form and can continue operating as it should.
- Safe Clearance: As an operator, you want to ensure proper clearance between the shearing machine’s blades. Also, remember that the backguage should be placed properly based on the metal sheet’s specifications.
- Emergency Procedures: In case of any unexpected failures or hazards, shearing machines should be fitted with emergency stop or shutdown features. Just as well, operators should be familiar with them, as well as the procedure for initiating these features in case of emergencies.
- Organization: It is also important to ensure that the entire work area is organized and clear. Maintain proper housekeeping and organization protocols to ensure a smooth workflow.
- Communication: Everyone on the shearing team should also be able to communicate properly to ensure that all operations go smoothly and without a hitch.
Metal shearing has risen as one of the most popular forms of metal fabrication available. And, at Tuolian Metal, we’ve been able to optimize our shearing process to ensure that everything works as seamlessly as possible.
Need a shearing process done? Want a consultation? Contact us today and let’s help you out!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is shearing a noisy process?
It can be difficult to operate metal removal processes that don’t involve the shearing of metals without having some noise.
Shearing machines can generate noise during operation, particularly with thicker materials. It is important to follow proper safety protocols, including wearing hearing protection, to mitigate the impact of noise on operators.
Can shearing be automated?
Yes, the shearing and forming manufacturing process can be automated using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) shearing machines. These machines can be programmed to perform precise and repetitive cutting operations, improving efficiency and reducing manual labor.
How precise are the cuts achieved through shearing?
Shearing can achieve precise and accurate cuts, particularly when using well-maintained and properly adjusted machines. However, it is important to note that shearing may have limitations in achieving extremely tight tolerances or intricate shapes.