The Robust Versatility of Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Parts with LK Tools

Stainless steel sheet metal parts provide outstanding strength, durability, and a polished surface in countless applications, from industrial machinery to consumer electronics. Stainless steel is a high-strength metal alloy used in diverse applications, and manufacturers employ various methods to transform it into functional components or products. Stainless steel sheet metal fabrication is one such method, utilizing a range of manufacturing techniques to shape stainless steel sheets into designed parts, including CNC laser cutting, sheet metal bending, forming, stamping, and joining techniques.

By the end of this article, we'll explore the different grades of stainless steel, manufacturing techniques, advantages, applications, and more, all within the context of how LK Tools maximizes these processes for optimal results.

What Is Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication at LK Tools?

It combines appropriate manufacturing techniques to process raw stainless steel materials into the desired shapes or structures. Meanwhile, the sheet metal comes in various grades, each with its characteristics.

What Stainless Steel Materials Are Used for LK Tools Sheet Metal Manufacturing?

These grades refer to the unique composition and properties of the stainless steel alloy, designed to adapt to various applications and conditions. Common grades for metalworking stainless steel sheets include 301, 304, 316, 410, and 430. These grades contain unique percentages of chromium, nickel, carbon, molybdenum, and other alloy elements, along with iron.

LK tools Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication

1. Stainless Steel 304

It is the most commonly used stainless steel grade in sheet metal manufacturing projects. SS 304 contains 18-20% chromium, 8-10.5% nickel, up to 0.08% carbon, and other elements. It provides a balance of material properties and resilience. Subsequently, grade 304 is renowned for formability, weldability, good strength, and corrosion resistance.

This grade's manufacturing is more suited for kitchen equipment cladding, handrails, brewing and dairy processing equipment, chemical containers, heat exchangers, and automotive and aerospace structural parts.

2. Stainless Steel 301

301's composition is approximately 16-18% chromium, 6-8% nickel, up to 0.15% carbon, with traces of silicon, sulfur, and phosphorus. The higher chromium and nickel content impart excellent corrosion resistance and strength. Secondly, it has ductility, which can be significantly hardened through cold working.

Stainless steel 301 sheets are suitable for aircraft structural parts, conveyor belts, springs, automotive parts, kitchen utensils, and appliances.

3. Stainless Steel 316

It is an austenitic chromium-nickel stainless steel, also known as marine-grade steel. What differentiates it from 301 is the inclusion of an additional element, molybdenum, which enhances its corrosion resistance. The composition includes about 16-18% chromium, 10-14% nickel, 2-3% molybdenum, and up to 0.08% carbon along with manganese, silicon, and phosphorus.

SS 316 sheets are used in the manufacturing of marine hardware, food and chemical processing machinery, medical and surgical instruments, and more.

4. Stainless Steel 410

Grade 410 is martensitic stainless steel with high strength and moderate corrosion resistance. It contains about 11.5-13.5% chromium and up to 0.40% carbon, but no nickel. SS 410 sheet is known for its high strength and hardness, which can be achieved through heat treatment. Moreover, it maintains its strength even at high temperatures.

Manufacturing with SS 410 sheets is very suitable for kitchen utensils, automotive exhaust manifolds, petrochemical pumps and valves, boiler and turbine parts.

Related News: Comparing 304 vs. 316 Stainless Steel: Key Differences and Applications

LK Tools Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication Processes

The manufacturing of stainless steel involves a series of steps. Cutting technology is employed to cut the sheet into smaller sizes. Then, these smaller sheets are bent or formed into the desired shapes. Finally, assembly combines the pieces together.

Let's briefly discuss each step.

Step 1: Cutting Stainless Steel Sheets

There are two sheet metal cutting processes for stainless steel sheets: shearing and non-shearing. Shearing methods, such as mechanical shearing, punching in metal sheets, notching, and sheet metal stamping, use shearing force to cut the sheet. In contrast, non-shearing cutting doesn't require shearing force, like plasma cutting, laser cutting, and waterjet cutting. Instead, these methods use heat or strong water pressure to cut through the stainless steel sheet.

Shearing methods are suitable for relatively low-precision straight cuts, while non-shearing methods are ideal for precise and complex cuts. Additionally, waterjet cutting is particularly suitable for applications where heat may damage the original properties.

Step 2: Bending or Forming the Sheets

Next, bending or forming gives shape to the cut sheets. Force bends the stainless steel to a predetermined angle without removing any material. This force can be applied via a press brake or a roll forming machine. If bending on a press brake, dies are needed that match the shape of the bend, such as V-shaped, U-shaped, or custom.

When bending cannot achieve the desired geometry, metal forming comes into play. Additionally, there are different forming techniques like roll forming, stamping, beading, and deep drawing. However, each bending and forming technique has limitations on sheet thickness and bend radius.

Step 3: Assembly of Bent or Formed Stainless Steel Parts

Assembly involves joining the bent or formed parts together to form the final product. Some typical joining techniques include fastening, riveting in metal sheets, welding, sheet metal welding (TIG and MIG), and adhesive bonding. The choice depends on the design and specifications.

Part alignment during assembly should be precise, as misalignment may cause functional or aesthetic issues. Hence, skilled and experienced assembly handling is necessary.

Step 4: Post-Processing or Surface Finishing

After assembly, the stainless steel sheet metal parts undergo surface finishing. In some cases, finishing is crucial for aesthetics and functionality. It also protects the parts from environmental influences and provides the required smoothness.

Here are standard surface finishing techniques for stainless steel parts:

  • Bead Blasting
  • Electroplating
  • Powder Coating Finishes
  • Grinding
  • Painting
  • Polishing Techniques

At LK Tools, we pride ourselves on precision and quality in every step of the stainless steel sheet metal fabrication process. From material selection to the final finishing touches, our expertise ensures that your stainless steel parts meet the highest standards of excellence. Whether you're in the market for kitchen equipment, aerospace components, or anything in between, LK Tools has the technology and craftsmanship to bring your projects to life. Contact us to learn more about how our stainless steel fabrication services can benefit your next project.