November 10, 2019

What Is Metal Shearing and What Are Its Advantages over Other Cutting Methods?

a pile of sheared copper stripsOne of the greatest discoveries of the last millennium is the true cause of earthquakes. Until the 18th century, even the most celebrated scientists in history thought earthquakes are created by explosions of flammable materials deep underground. Such conjecture, along with many others, was immediately debunked when Reverend John Mitchell proposed that earthquakes were caused by rock movements (plate tectonics sliding against each other), which is followed by the propagation of elastic waves within the earth. Those rock movements were later discovered to be a form of “shearing”.

Shearing occurs when an object’s parallel internal surfaces slide past one another, resulting in a breakage. The shear stress that enables this occurrence is often created by two opposite external forces pushing the object from both sides. Shearing, however, isn’t always the destructive force that creates earthquake. It has many beneficial uses, too. One particular industry that greatly benefits from the power of shearing is metal manufacturing. For the longest time, shearing has been one of the most widely used methods for cutting metals.

What is Metal Shearing?

There are numerous techniques manufacturers use for cutting metals, including grinding, turning, and drilling. Some are assisted with laser, high-speed waterjet, and heat. Each of these techniques suit specific applications. For instance, for making intricate sculptures, waterjet cutting is the best bet due to its flexible settings. Some techniques, however, such as metal shearing, prove more efficient than others, which is why they are mostly employed in mass productions. So what is shearing in metal work?

Also known as die cutting, metal shearing is the process of cutting straight lines on a metal die or stock by forcing two blades past each other. The metal shearing process is similar to how scissors work except all points along the edges of both blades meet at the same time. Sometimes, though, the blades can be mounted at an angle to reduce the shearing force required. The ultimate goal in shear cutting is to prevent the formation of chips and eliminate the need for burning or melting, which badly affects the properties of the metal die. Metal shearing is the preferred cutting method of most bronze and brass suppliers, such as Rotax Metals, whose products come in sheets or plates.

Characteristics and Tool System

Metal shearing can be characterized by the blurred, slightly deformed straight line it creates. For this reason, it is not an effective method for creating fine cuts, let alone for cutting intricate designs on metal plates. If anything, metal shearing is just the first step of a multifarious, elaborate metal working process, which often involves other metal cutting techniques.

There are several types of tool systems used in the shearing of metal. One allows for the shearing of sheet metal and plate using a squaring or bow tie shear. Another shears angle materials. And the last one shears bar stock using a bar shear. Any aluminum and copper sheet supplier should know these main tools along with other more specialized shearing tools and which applications each of them can be effectively used for.

How does a metal sheer work?

A metal shear consists of different working parts. It has two blades—a moving blade, called punch, and a fixed blade, called die. The punch pushes the workpiece against the die until a clearance of 5% to 40% of the thickness of the metal is reached. Clearance is the distance between the point where the cutting takes places and the point where the sheared side of the metal totally separates from the other side.

It’s important to note that the clearance has a major impact on both the quality of the cut and the machine’s energy efficiency. Insufficient clearance may result in the two parts of the stock still slightly attached, which usually entails manual prying to separate them. Too much clearance, on the other hand, may lead to roll-over or heavy burring, which is just as damaging to the metal.

Benefits of Metal Shearing

Apparently, there are many benefits to the shearing metal process. In fact, they are the reasons why this technique isn’t going to be faced out anytime soon despite the introduction of more advanced metal cutting techniques. Here are some of them.

1. It makes straight line cuts in flat sheet stock with cleaner edges than those done by traditional torch cutting.
2. It doesn’t create chips on the metal.
3. It doesn’t require heating or melting, which preserves the metal’s property.
4. It produces minimal to no kerf.
5. No loss of material, which equates to minimal waste.
6. It is a cost-effective option for high-output operations.

When you see all of these features in the metal supplies that you are purchasing for your project, you can easily tell that they have been sheared. Most manufacturers use metal shearing so you’ll definitely see a lot of products made through this process in metal supply stores, especially from a copper sheet supplier and other stores that specialize in soft metals. Just be careful when choosing your supplier as not all of them get their materials from reliable sources.


Best Way to Polish Brass: Three Cleaning Mixtures You Can Make at Home

Best Way to Polish Brass: Three Cleaning Mixtures You Can Make at Home

Best Way to Polish Brass: Three Cleaning Mixtures You Can Make at Home

There is no denying that brass is one of the most popular metals for crafting ornamental pieces. This is mostly because brass has a unique shine and luster, as well as the fact that it’s a cost-effective material for metalworkers to use. In fact, you probably have more than a few brass items in your home, especially if you are living in an older house or heritage home.

Although brass is renowned for its visual appeal, it doesn’t stay that way forever. Over time, brass will begin to lose a lot of its shine due to tarnish.

Why Does Brass Tarnish?

Brass is not a natural occurring metal like gold or silver. It’s actually a combination of two different metals: copper and zinc. The standard ratio of copper to zinc is 67 percent to 33 percent, although this ratio may change depending on the type of brass the manufacturer requires.

This is important to know because the chemical changes brought about by combining copper and zinc makes brass quite susceptible to a process called oxidation, where the brass interacts with oxygen in the air. The result is “tarnish” or discoloration of the exposed layer.

Tarnish, however, is not irreversible. A good, thorough cleaning and polishing will often be enough to restore the shine and luster of any brass object. How do you polish brass?  The process itself isn’t unlike how you would clean any other part of your home. What is important is that you use the right kind of cleaner and polish. The best part is that you don’t really need to buy a chemical brass cleaner. You can easily make brass cleaner and polish from items you already have at home!

Before You Get Started!

There are a few things you’ll need to do before you attempt to polish brass using household items.

First, you’ll need to make sure that what you have on your hands is actually made of brass. The quickest way to check is to press a magnet against the surface. Pure brass is not magnetic so your refrigerator magnet should just slide off. If it sticks, the item in question only has a thin brass coat, which makes the item incompatible with the cleaning methods outlined below.

The best way to polish brass is to make sure the surface is clean. Once you’ve determined that the item is made of pure brass, it’s time to pre-wash it. This will help get rid of dust and dirt build-up, assuring you that the solution you’ll use to polish the item actually comes into contact with the brass itself. A simple mixture of warm water and a mild detergent is more than enough for this step.

Pro tip: Use a microfiber cloth to clean the brass. This will help minimize the risk of accidentally scratching the surface as you clean it. Ideally, you should have two different cloths: one for washing and another for polishing. This will help you avoid accidentally reapplying the dirt and grime back onto the surface of the brass.

Cleaning and Polishing Solutions You Can Make at Home

1. Fresh Lemon Juice and Baking Soda

Prepare a clean, glass bowl. Take a lemon from your refrigerator and and squeeze out its juices into your bowl. Pour a tablespoon of baking soda into the lemon juice. You should notice the mixture fizzle. Mix it slowly into a nice, thick paste. Get a bit of paste onto your microfiber cloth and apply to the tarnished section of the brass item, rubbing in a circular motion. Allow the paste to dry, and then use a damp microfiber cloth to remove the paste. This should leave the surface of the brass looking much shinier than it was previously.

2. Vinegar and Salt

For this polishing solution, you’ll need to find a plastic container large enough to fit the brass object. Once you have a suitable container, grab a bottle of vinegar and a container of table salt. Pour the vinegar and the salt into the container. Mix it until the salt is completely dissolved in the vinegar. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the polishing solution onto to the brass. Once you’ve finished, soak the brass in the solution for 45 minutes to an hour before rubbing the surface of the brass again. Repeat the process as necessary.

Alternatively, you can add flour to the cleaning mixture to form a paste. If you prefer this option, simply follow the same process outlined in the first point.

3. Ketchup

The fastest way to polish brass is to use one of the most beloved condiments in the world: ketchup. It’s the fastest because there’s no advanced preparation necessary. You can simply use the ketchup straight out of the bottle. Squirt some ketchup onto a microfiber cloth and start polishing the surface of the brass. Once you’re happy with the results, use a damp microfiber cloth to clean up the ketchup residue.

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