There are several different ways to shape sheet metal, but they all boil down to two broad categories: sheet metal can either be cut or formed.
As there are many different ways of cutting and forming sheet metal, many specific tooling types are needed which can drive up costs. This is why developing a good understanding of the various sheet metal fabrication processes available is essential to produce the most efficient design for a particular application is essential.
The most basic form of sheet metal fabrication begins with a flat sheet of metal and a blueprint (usually a DXF or CAD file). This blueprint will serve as the instructions on how to cut, form, and finish the base material.
It could be as simple as a single bend to turn it into angle iron, or laser cut and bent at the edges to make computer enclosure panels. When these processes are combined, the material is first cut and later formed, followed by finishing and joining.