If you’re looking to make your own products, you have numerous options regarding the materials that you can use for fabrication. There are many different factors you must consider when determining what material is best for your product, and it is important to find opportunities to streamline your manufacturing processes with the materials you choose. You must evaluate how the material will behave under stress, over time, and when it’s subjected to chemicals or environmental conditions. You must also consider the nature, function, and performance of your project; its end-use will play a large role in dictating what material you use to build it. When you take the proper time to ensure you select the right material for your product, you’ll save both time and money.
A current popular material option is plastic, and casting metal also has some positive benefits. However, there are several reasons (depending on your project) why sheet metal could prove to be the superior material choice.
Strength and Durability
Sheet metal is strong and durable, and sheet metal parts are often able to withstand greater pressure and heat than those made with plastic. In addition to this, aluminum, stainless steel, or surface-treated steel are all resistant to pressure, corrosion, and wear and tear. While a method like casting will share these benefits, plastic will not hold up as well with the passage of time.
In addition to being durable, sheet metal is also malleable. With the right equipment, it can be bent into numerous shapes, while still retaining its strength and structural integrity. Sheet metal also has the ability to be compressed or stretched without breaking or cracking. When a part is cast or molded, you get a very specific shape, but you also had to pay for a very specific, and usually expensive, mold. If you decide to change your part at all, it can be very expensive to invest in a new mold, and tooling for plastic can be very expensive as well. With sheet metal, it’s as simple as bending the part in a different place to create a new and unique shape. The malleability of sheet metal allows it to be effectively and efficiently used in custom, complex, or highly specialized applications.
One of the biggest advantages of using sheet metal is that the parts are replaceable. If several metal parts are used to make an assembly, instead of making the whole part out of one substance, the individual components can be removed and replaced without having to replace the entire assembly. This can save money on repairs and even allow for modifications and upgrades.
As far as materials go, metal is by far one of the most sustainable materials. Metal is a natural resource that is both environmentally and economically strategic. When the parts are no longer needed, they can be recycled indefinitely and turned into other parts. Plastic has a limited ability to be recycled and cannot be easily and safely disposed once it reaches its end point. Metal manufacturing is a much more responsible and sustainable option.
Tooling costs for plastics can be very expensive, making sheet metal a more economical choice. Many companies move from cast or molded parts to sheet metal because of the overall reduction in costs and material waste. Material lifespan and longevity must also be considered when evaluating the cost of material. The cheapest material is not necessarily the most cost-efficient option if it will not serve you well for a long period of time and has to be consistently replaced or maintained. The strength and durability features of sheet metal make it a more cost-effective option.
Partner with Estes
Deciding if sheet metal is right for your project is a complex decision with many factors to consider. Before you invest time and money in design or tooling, work with an experienced partner like Estes Design and Manufacturing. With decades of experience and cutting-edge fabricating equipment, Estes will ensure the right material is used for your project and is manufactured with consistent quality and competitive pricing. Our experts are here to help you make the right choices for your products. Contact us to find out if sheet metal is the right material for your project and learn how we can take your product to the next level.