Industry Articles From Kaempf and Harris

Everything You Need To Know About Perforated Sheet Metal


From assembling to tungsten inert gas (TIG) weldingsheet metal fabrication techniques can be hard to keep track of. To help you understand the ins and outs of these methods, Kaempf & Harris is breaking down the basics of a newer skill, perforating:

What is perforation?

It is the process of manually or mechanically stamping or punching to create a pattern of holes, slots, or decorative shapes, as depicted in the image above.

According to Metalex, a metal manufacturer in Libertyville, Illinois, sheet metal fabricators use stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, galvanized sheet metal, brass, aluminum, tinplate, copper, titanium, and plastic for this fabrication technique.

Which industries use perforated metal?

The following industries use this technique for various projects:

  • Architecture: Infill panels, sunshade, cladding, column covers, metal signage, site amenities, and fencing screens
  • Automotive: Air filters, oil filters, silencer tubes, radiator grilles, running boards, flooring, motorcycle silencers, ventilation grids, and tractor engine ventilation
  • Chemical and energy: Filters, centrifuges, drying machine baskets, battery separator plates, water screens, gas purifiers, liquid gas burning tubes, mine cages, and coal washing
  • Construction: Ceiling noise protection, acoustic panels, stair treads, pipe guards, ventilation grilles, sun protection slats, facades, and sign boards
  • Food and beverage: Beehive construction, grain dryers, wine vats, fish farming, silo ventilation, sorting machines, fruit and vegetable juice presses, cheese molds, baking trays, and coffee screens
  • Material development: Glass reinforcement, cement slurry screens, dyeing machines, textile printers and felt mills, cinder screens, and blast furnace screens

When was perforated metal first used?

The process has been around for more than 150 years. In the late 19th century, metal screens were used as an efficient means of separating coal. However, the first perforators were laborers who would manually punch individual holes into the metal sheet.

This proved to be an inefficient and inconsistent method, which led to the development of new techniques, such as using a series of needles arranged in the desired hole pattern. Modern methods include using machines and technology, like rotary pinned perforation rollers, die and punch presses, and laser perforations.

What are the benefits of perforation?

While perforation may strictly seem like an aesthetic element, there are significant benefits to this method, including the following:

  1. A 2007 study completed by William Steward showed that perforated metals help reduce sound levels. Its acoustic performance limits health effects from noise, which is ideal for employees who work in buildings near busy highways, concert halls, and facilities with heavy machinery.
  2. Buildings that require ventilation use sun protection screens made of perforated metal, leading to excellent airflow and shade.

    “Although they appear to be a design element, [its] permeable nature allows the free movement of air, resulting in substantial energy savings on heating, ventilation and air conditioning,” according to Metal Supermarkets, a global supplier of small-quantity metals.

    In fact, buildings with perforation in front of their façade can bring in between an estimated 30 to 45 percent energy savings from HVAC and lighting consumption in one year.
  3. Depending on the building’s location, solar irradiation (the power per unit area received from the sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range of the measuring instrument) can decrease by 77.9 percent.

Does perforated metal go by other terms?

Metal can be replaced with sheet, plate, or screen.

Sheet metal fabrication has been around since 1401 when people used primordial furnaces to pile alternated layers of iron and charcoal to liquefy steel. Today, we have massive machines and other forms of technology to make every process, including perforation, easier on fab shop workers.

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Topics: Tools & Techniques, Metals, Sheet Metal Fabrication

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