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Aerospace Sheet Metal Fabrication 101: A Basic Knowledge Guide

Aerospace Sheet Metal Fabrication 101

From choosing suitable material to precision sheet metal fabrication, fabricating aerospace sheet metal parts can be challenging.

The best part, today’s guide explores all fundamental facts about aerospace sheet metal fabrication. Whether you want to choose a suitable material, fabrication technique or understand practical applications – all information you are looking for is right here.

Why Fabricate Sheet Metal Parts for Aerospace Industry

Fabricating aircraft parts

Fabricating Aircraft Part

First, aerospace sheet metal fabrication involves manipulating sheet metal to make aircraft parts and components.

Recently, many aircraft manufacturers, such as Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Airbus, Leonardo, Boeing, and Raytheon, use different sheet metal fabrication techniques.

It is due to:

  1. Low production cost for aircraft parts – fabricating aircraft parts results in low production cost, which is the ultimate goal of every airplane manufacturer.
  2. Fast production of aircraft parts – you can produce parts quickly. This makes repairs and producing new planes faster.
  3. Easy to customize plane parts – aerospace industry requires many customized parts and components. With aerospace sheet metal fabrication, you can produce virtually any part and component depending on the client’s requirements.
  4. Controlling the quality of aircraft parts – by adopting precision sheet metal fabrication, you can control quality of all parts in the aerospace industry. Fabricating aerospace sheet metal parts uses CNC machines and strict quality control measures.

Additionally, sheet metal fabrication does not interfere with the inherent properties of aerospace materials. The materials will maintain their mechanical, physical, and chemical properties.

Choosing Aerospace Material for Fabrication Processes

Aerospace requires durable, corrosion resistance, and lightweight materials, unlike sheet metal fabrication industries.

Therefore, choosing a suitable material is paramount before starting any aerospace sheet metal fabrication process.

Today, some popular materials you can use in the industry include:

  • Stainless steel like the SS 17-4 PH
  • Titanium such as the Ti-6Al-4V
  • Aluminum – the most common aluminum alloys for aircraft construction are 6061, 7075, and 7475-02
  • Copper and brass alloys

Of course, there are other composite materials you may fabricate for various engine parts. Therefore, you will choose a suitable material depending on aerospace sheet metal parts. A good material for aircraft should have a high strength-to-weight ratio.

Aerospace Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

Fabricating aircraft parts requires precise, repeatable, and reliable processes. Therefore, whether you are cutting, forming, or drilling parts, the process must guarantee the highest accuracy.

Additionally, the sheet metal fabrication technique must produce parts with:

  • Predictable performance under all conditions – fluctuating temperature, humidity, stress, etc
  • Dimension stability
  • Fine finish
  • Tight tolerance
  • Physical stress
  • Vibrations, etc.

Let’s look at some standard aerospace sheet metal fabrication techniques:

Aerospace Hydroforming

Hydroforming aerospace sheet metal parts ensure virtually no imperfection. Such aircraft are ready for any application in the aerospace industry with minimal finishing operations.

Most companies use hydroforming technology for all aerospace sheet metal forming. The technology is suitable for all aerospace materials, such as:

  • Aluminum alloy
  • Titanium
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper and brass alloys, to mention a few

Furthermore, when you adopt hydroforming for aircraft sheet metal fabrication, you will make complex shapes and parts while maintaining material integrity.

Fabricating aircraft engine

Fabricating Aircraft Engine

CNC Brake Press Bending Process

With a brake press, you can form complex aircraft parts accurately. In fact, every component will meet the exact industry requirements.

Robotic Welding

With fully automated welding, you will get accurate and consistent welding. As a result, the fabricated sheet metal aircraft parts can withstand fluctuating pressure.

It is also an important safety measure.

Stretch Forming Airplane Parts

Stretch forming is a unique aircraft sheet metal fabrication process.

This is a process where you will stretch and bend aircraft material simultaneously. With this forming technique, you will get quality and complex parts. Of course, it offers a superior surface finish.

Other aircraft sheet metal fabrication techniques include:

After the aircraft parts sheet metal fabrication, you will apply various finishing such as:

  • Powder coating
  • Anodizing
  • Painting
  • Plating, etc.

Remember, fabricating sheet metal parts for the aviation industry starts with prototype development. It goes from product testing to aerospace quality control and testing before production begins.

Note: Fabricating sheet metal parts for the aviation industry is similar to standard procedures. The only difference is using specialized techniques to guarantee accuracy and part consistency. Still, it entails:

  1. Cutting sheet metal
  2. Forming sheet metal
  3. Joining sheet metal technique or assembly operations – welding, riveting, etc.
  4. Finishing operation
  5. Quality control, inspection, and validation

Examples of Aerospace Sheet Metal Parts

Sheet metal aircraft parts

Sheet Metal Aircraft Parts

Aircraft sheet metal fabrication is a versatile process that allows you to make many parts and components.

Examples of aerospace sheet metal parts are:

  • Exterior skins
  • Interior sections
  • Cockpit sheet metal parts
  • Main rotor pylon parts
  • Cabin section
  • Aircraft tail section
  • Tail rotor pylon parts
  • Aircraft wings parts
  • Enclosures
  • Faceplates
  • Mounting systems
  • Panels
  • Switch brackets
  • Satellite components
  • Fuselage
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Seats
  • Exhaust pipes
  • Drone parts, etc.

KDMFAB Capabilities in Aircraft Parts Fabrication

Fabricating airplane part

Fabricating Airplane Part

KDMFAB is one of the leading aerospace parts fabrication companies in China. With precise sheet metal fabrication capabilities, KDMFAB is a trusted aircraft OEM parts supplier in the global market.

We can fabricate all aircraft materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, carbon steel, copper, and bronze alloys.

Our technicians will help you in aerospace sheet metal design for all your specific parts and components.

Whether you want;

  • Complex aircraft part assembly
  • In-house tooling and parts design
  • High production and fast turnaround

KDMFAB offers perfect aerospace sheet metal fabrication services.


When fabricating sheet metal parts for the aerospace industry, you must choose the right technology and material besides working with a trusted company.

It is the surest way to get dimensionally accurate, precise, and durable aircraft parts and components.

For any questions or inquiries on fabricating aircraft parts, contact us now.

More resources:

Sheet Metal Fabrication – Source: KDMFAB

All About Sheet Metal Fabrication – Source: ThomasNet

Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication – Source: KDMSTEEL

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