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Common Glossary in Sheet Metal Fabrication

Common Glossary in Sheet Metal Fabrication


Assembly - the action of putting together individual or partially assembled units to build a complete product.

Base metal - the sheet of metal that is to be cut, bent, or punched.

Bending - the process of applying pressure to specific areas of the base metal to achieve a desired shape.

Blanking - removing a piece from the entirety of the base metal, where the piece is kept and the remaining metal around it is discarded. Like a cookie-cutter. Blanking typically occurs prior to bending but can happen while forming, depending on the machine.

CAD - shot for “computer-aided design”, engineers use CAD software to design 2D and 3D models.

Coining - a different design is created on each side of the metal or on just the top layer and not throughout - usually used for fine detail.

Cutting - the use of blades, torches, lasers, and other means to remove pieces of sheet metal.

Die(Press brake) - the cavity below a piece of sheet metal that allows the punch to pierce the metal.

Embossing - one side of the material is raised while the other is depressed.

Forming - the process of cutting, punching, or bending sheet metal to create a desired shape.

Hard tooling - sheet metal stamping

Lancing - a slice or slit made in a piece of metal to free it up without separating it from the main piece.

Laser cutting - an extremely precise method of cutting that uses a concentrated beam of light. Also used by evil geniuses.

Machining/Milling - the controlled removal of material using a cutting tool or lathe.

Nesting - strategically fitting multiple parts on a single sheet of metal to reduce waste. Commonly arranged automatically by nesting software.

Pemming - the installation of threaded hardware(usually a specific set of threaded fasteners) to allow for assembly; includes nuts, studs, and standoffs.

Plasma cutting - the use of concentrated ionized gas(plasma) to melt away portions of sheet metal. Less precise than laser cutting.

Powder coating - a dry powder surface coating that’s applied to final metal pieces. When heated, it forms a bond with the metal, ensuring a lasting finish and color.

Press brake - a machine that forms predetermined angles, or bends, by squeezing a sheet of metal between a matching punch and a die.

Punch (Press Brake) - the tool above a die that uses compression to create a bend or piece a piece of sheet metal.

Riveting - the installation of a mechanical fastener, or rivet, through a hole in the material to hold two or more pieces of sheet metal together.

Set-up time - the amount of time it takes to set up the proper dies and punches for a job. This time varies depending on the complexity of the part and machine.

Shearing - a form of cutting in which downward force is applied to sheet metal, causing it to break cleanly.

Soft tooling - the sheet metal fabrication processes that include laser cutting, turret punches, and press brake forming.

Stamping - accomplished using steel dies - progressive and stage - that are designed to stamp, bend, and form sheet metal.

Tonnage - the amount of pressure applied by a press.

Turret - a type of punch press used to punch sheet metal. Named after the rotating turret head above the metal that rotates to change tools.

Welding - the joining together of two or more pieces of metal by melting or soldering them together, types include TIG, MIG, projection, and spot welding.


Metal fabrication involves many tools, processes, and skilled professionals. At Openex, our fabrication experts take great pride in their ability to tailor their creations to your exact needs. From laser cutting to robotic welding to CNC machining, we do it all.  Contact us now to discuss your project and find out how we can help.

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