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6 Sheet Metal Joining Techniques: Ultimate Guide

Key takeaways:

1. The article emphasizes the importance of selecting an appropriate joining method for sheet metal based on specific project requirements, highlighting that factors such as material compatibility, joint strength, and cost efficiency are critical in determining whether to use mechanical fastening, welding, adhesive bonding, soldering, or other specialized techniques.

2. It underscores the trade-offs inherent in each joining process, where methods like folding/tab joints offer simplicity and speed but may lack positional accuracy, while welding provides strength but can be complex and permanent, illustrating the need for careful consideration of the end-use and desired properties of the final assembly.

3. The piece suggests an ongoing evolution in sheet metal joining techniques, driven by industry demands for improved quality, durability, and performance, indicating that the future of fabrication will likely see further innovation in methods to address these challenges and enhance product design.

Sheet metal refers to metal plates with a thickness of 6mm or less. Sheet metal fabrication is a cold processing method that involves punching, bending, drawing, and forming. The thickness of sheet metal parts is consistent throughout the process.

Sheet metal processing is a highly efficient and cost-effective forming process that results in lightweight, strong, and electromagnetically shielded components.

It is widely used in industries such as automotive, electronics, and home appliances.

Mechanical engineers often use sheet metal parts when designing products made of this material.

The challenge lies in finding an economical and reliable way to join multiple sheet metal parts and in determining the best method for fastening sheet metal.

In this article, we will introduce the 6 types of sheet metal joining process that is often used in product design.

Sheet metal fabrication

Sheet Metal Joining Fundamentals

Sheet metal joining is an essential process in the fabrication of various products and structures using sheet material. It involves connecting or attaching multiple sheets of metal together to create a desired shape or form. This process is commonly used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, and appliance manufacturing.

There are several methods and techniques for joining sheet metal, each with its unique advantages and limitations. Some common methods include mechanical fastening, welding, adhesive bonding, and soldering. The choice of technique depends on factors such as the type of materials, the application, and the required joint strength.

Mechanical fastening is a popular method for joining sheet metal because it is quick and straightforward. It involves using hardware like screws, rivets, and bolts to connect the sheets, and can be easily disassembled if necessary. This method is suitable for a wide range of materials and thicknesses.

Welding involves heating the surfaces of the sheet metals to join them and forming a fusion bond. This method provides a robust and durable connection and is commonly used for applications that require high joint strength. Some common welding techniques for sheet metal include resistance spot welding, gas metal arc welding, and laser welding.

Adhesive bonding is a technique that employs special adhesives to bond the sheet metals. This method is advantageous for joining dissimilar materials and relatively thin sheets. Adhesive bonds also offer a smooth, aesthetic appearance and can redistribute stress across the joint.

Soldering is a process that uses a filler material, or solder, which is melted and applied to the joint surfaces to create a bond. Capillary action helps the solder flow and form a connection between the sheets. Soldering is often used for applications that cannot withstand high temperatures and require a low-stress bond.

Selecting the appropriate joining technique requires considering various factors such as material compatibility, joint strength requirements, and cost. Moreover, proper surface preparation, joint design, and process control are crucial to ensure a successful sheet metal joining process.

In conclusion, sheet metal joining plays a vital role in today’s industrial world. The industry continually develops new techniques and technologies to address the specific needs and challenges associated with joining sheet metals, ultimately enhancing the quality, durability, and performance of the final products.

Sheet Metal Joining Methods

1. Folding / Tab Joint

Folding Tab Joints
Folding Tab Joints

Sheet metal parts can be connected to each other by folding or bending tabs in the form of a buckle and a clamping slot. This method of assembly is simple and convenient, resulting in quick assembly.

However, it may not guarantee full positioning, and additional auxiliary positioning may be required.

2. Pulling Rivet

Pulling Rivet
Pulling Rivet

Riveting is carried out in the hole corresponding to the two parts, and a rivet gun is used to pull the rivet, expanding and deforming the outer rivet sleeve to fix the two parts together.

This connection is simple, convenient, and fast.

3. Self-clinching


Self-riveting is a method of using mutual deformation between sheet metal parts to achieve mutual fixation.

Although this method is simple, it is often used in applications where disassembly is not required.

4. Screw Joint / Fasteners

Screw Joint Fasteners
Screw Joint Fasteners

Self-tapping refers to the process of using self-tapping screws to create threads directly on a sheet metal piece, resulting in a tight fit and the ability to be disassembled.

5. Pressing Rivet

Pressing Rivet
Pressing Rivet

The press rivet process involves pressing a crimp nut or screw against the sheet metal, which can then be mated with a corresponding outer nut or screw.

6. Welding Joints

The main purpose of spot welding is to create a row of solder joints on two sheet metal parts.

This is achieved by melting the local sheet metal material at the welding head to complete the connection between the sheet metal parts.

In the above content, we introduced various sheet metal joining methods.

Finally, a table is used to summarize the advantages and disadvantages of each joining method.

Joining methodsTools usedProsCons
Folding / Tab Jointsnone1. Low cost
2. Quick assembly
Can not completely limit all degrees of freedom, other fixing devices are needed
Pulling Rivetrivet gun1. Easy to operate, good fluidity
2. Self-positioning
1. Need to pre-punch
2. The pull stud will have a bump
3. There is a limit to the use space of the rivet gun
Self-clinchingdedicated moldSelf-guided, no positioning required1. Need to do the countersinking process
2. Do not disassemble
3. The yield rate is difficult to guarantee
Screw Joint / FastenersscrewdriverLow cost, detachableLimited number of disassembly
Pressing Rivetdedicated equipment1. Safe and reliable
2. Removable
Higher cost
Welding Jointsspot welding machine1. Simple process
2. No pre-processing required
1. Equipment complexity
2. Weak welding force, easy to remove welding
3. Unable to remove
4. Welding materials should match

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