9 Different Types of Sheet Metal Operations and Their Uses

hot rolled steel sheet, sheet metalSheet metal processing is a vast concept, covering several machining operations done to metal sheets. Since the topic is too broad, most people think the overall process only boils down to a single function. However, there are two categories of sheet metal operations: cutting and forming. Under the two subcategories, there are nine other processes that make up sheet metal operations as a whole.

1. Shearing

Shearing is similar to what the name suggests—cutting through a sheet of metal in a straight line or curve. It is a manufacturing process used to cut off a plate needed for a particular application, usually done with a shearing machine.

2. Punching

Punching is a process where manufacturers cut holes in the metal. Most often, punches cut the holes shaped like circles or squares. It’s also an excellent way to apply an edge or border to the sheet.

3. Perforating

Perforating is the process where manufacturers put holes in the metal. Also known as punching operation, it is accomplished using a specialized tool called a press hammer. Unless the press hammer punches the hole on the sheet, it doesn’t count as perforating.

4. Notching

The process involves cutting a rectangular piece of metal out of the larger sheet. Notching happens to the edge of the metal sheet and is used to attach the sheet to something else. The process is done with a notching machine or a shearing machine.

5. Sheet Metal Cutting

Sheet metal cutting is done to remove the metal in a particular shape out of the larger sheet of metal. The two categories of sheet metal cutting are bevel and spur gear cutting. The former refers to the process of cutting sheets at an angle, usually at 30 degrees. Meanwhile, the latter is cutting metal sheets in the shape of a gear. After each cut, manufacturers will turn the sheets at a 30-degree angle before making the next cut.

6. Blanking and Fine Blanking

Blanking is a sheet metal process where manufacturers get rid of unwanted metal sections. Manufacturers do it by destroying unwanted metal sheets. The process is also done through a blanking machine.

7. Piercing

Piercing is cutting out the metal sheets with holes in them. Because the process involves cutting out the metal sheets with holes in them, it’s a combination of the punching and shearing processes. The only difference between perforating and piercing is the coverings in every hole.

8. Slotting

Slotting is a sheet metal process where a slot is put in the metal to do its job. Also known as slitting, the machines used in the process are called slitting machines. The process involves cutting notches in the steel sheets and removing the excess metal with a chisel.

9. Bending

Sheet metal bending refers to the process of shaping the metal sheets. Manufacturers bend the sheets to make them easier to use in various products. It is a sheet metal process done to the edge of the sheet, whether creating a 90-degree angle and a T-shaped corner in the sheet or making the sheet’s edge thinner by making it thinner as it crosses over itself.


Sheet metal processing is a vital part of the metal machining industry. Though it might seem simple, the work has high importance in the manufacturing industry. Any sheet metal process done to the sheets is a small piece of the more extensive manufacturing process. Each process is an individual service that forms the more extensive process. Therefore, careful planning and knowing the client’s needs will ensure your success in the sheet metal industry.

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