Sheet metal folding: 5 must-know basics

There are a lot of questions in the sheet metal fabrication industry, particularly around the sheet metal fabrication process itself.

In this blog, sheet metal folding: 5 must-know basics, we’re going to answer some of your questions, from how to fold sheet metal, to the sheet metal folding process.


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1. What is sheet metal folding?

Sheet metal folding is a key stage within sheet metal fabrication, and is the second step in the four-step process, following cutting. Sheet metal folding involves bending the metal to the desired shape that’s required for the product you’re manufacturing. The term “folding” can be used interchangeably with “bending” to describe this action within the sheet metal fabrication industry. 

Keep reading to discover the sheet metal folding process.


2. How to fold sheet metal

There are multiple ways in which you can fold or bend sheet metal. The main element when it comes to how to fold sheet metal is that you need force that exceeds the material’s strength. This is the only way that metal will fold.

This can either be done by hand, using heat to soften the material before folding, or more commonly, by using a press brake. A press brake works by lowering a punch (also called a knife) onto the sheet metal that has been carefully positioned.

The metal may be bent several times to achieve the desired shape. 

Press brakes are hugely versatile machines because they can be used for sheet metal folding for nearly any product. Whether you need a small bracket or large industrial machine, using a press brake is the best effective way to fold your metal


3. What is the purpose of folding in sheet metal work?

The purpose of folding your sheet metal is to create the perfect bespoke product that you need. By folding your sheet metal, you are forming it into the shape that forms your end product. Without sheet metal folding, your product would never take the right shape. 


4. What is the sheet metal folding process?

Now you know how to fold sheet metal, let’s go through the sheet metal folding process in more detail. 

Sheet metal folding is a complex process and requires plenty of knowledge and experience to complete both safely and effectively.

The way sheet metal is folded is also dependent on the type of material you are folding. Depending on the complexity of the product, folding may not be the first process for the sheet metal. 

Customised Sheet Metal adopts the most traditional and common method of folding which is to use the press brake machine. The design engineer will consider the material thickness, bend radius and batch size to select the most appropriate machine to use.

The press brake machine bends the sheet metal by clamping the metal sheet between a punch and a die, which are the top tool and the bottom tools. A pre-set program will have been determined and entered into the machine before feeding the sheet metal into the machine and applying the bend to the metal.


5. What is a bend radius in sheet metal?

As you were reading the sheet metal folding process above, you may have wondered what the term ‘bend radius’ means.

Bend radius refers to the inside radius of the bend, with this there are many factors to consider which will help you to achieve the correct bend radius in sheet metal.

Depending on the type of material used there will be a degree of ‘spring back’ which needs to be accounted for and in most cases, you will need to ‘over bend’ to achieve the correct internal radius after spring back.


Contact us

We’re experts in all aspects of sheet metal fabrication, including sheet metal folding and forming, meaning that we will help create your perfect bespoke product.

We invest in our team to ensure that they are equipped with the best knowledge and skills to manufacture to the highest standards. Our industry-leading equipment also means that we can create your products with precision, care and quality. 

Interested in how our skills in sheet metal folding can create the perfect bespoke product for you?

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