Is Sheet Metal Fabrication Good for the Medical Industry?

sheet metal fabrication for medical parts

Sheet metal fabrication is a core prototyping and production method comprising various processes that allow the creation of functional and durable metal medical parts. It applies to multiple industries because it is the initial point for several other machining processes. The process allows the manipulation of sheet metals in different ways, enabling the manufacturing innovative medical tools and components of various devices. It also streamlines medical parts development with rapid prototyping and on-demand production of customized metal components.

This article explores sheet metal fabrication and how it paves the way for innovation and precision in manufacturing medical parts. Read on to the end to learn about sheet metal fabrication and why it is ideal for manufacturing medical parts!

What Is Sheet Metal Fabrication?

Sheet metal fabrication is a standard subtractive manufacturing process that drives innovation across various industries, such as healthcare. It involves using sophisticated machines to manipulate flat sheet metal into preferred forms. It usually includes bending, welding, forming, and cutting (laser, plasma, and water jet cutting) the sheet metal before rolling it out and completing it into the desired form. This metal part fabrication process is a suitable and cost-effective alternative to machining and casting.

Steel, aluminum, copper, stainless steel, and zinc are typical sheet metals available in the 0.006 and 0.25-inch thickness range. Although the thicker sheet metals are ideal for heavy-duty applications, sheet metals with thinner gauges are more malleable.

Trends for Medical Sheet Metal Fabrication

automation and collaborative robots in sheet metal fabrication

Custom sheet metal fabrication has been the backbone of the medical industry in producing sturdy, high-precision medical equipment and instruments that meet stringent industry requirements. However, several trends and technologies for medical sheet metal fabrication have emerged in recent years, reshaping the designing and fabricating of complex medical parts. Here are common trends that apply to medical sheet metal fabrication:

Automation and Robotics

Automation and robotics have revolutionized custom sheet metal fabrication by streamlining processes, optimizing efficiency, and mitigating human error. The technology can create patient-specific medical parts with precision and speed with the help of computer numerically controlled machines, which optimizes production and ensures consistent quality of fabricated medical parts. These collaborative robots with advanced sensors and programming can perform fabrication procedures such as cutting, drilling, and welding, offering automation-driven efficiency.

Internet of Things (IoT) Integration

IoT is another innovative trend that has revolutionized medical sheet metal fabrication. Digitalization allows seamless communication and real-time data sharing between machines to increase automation, predictive maintenance, and real-time monitoring. Integrating IoT-enabled devices and sensors in metal fabricating machines and equipment helps medical parts fabricators reduce downtime, optimize productivity, and increase overall operational efficiency when different components of the fabrication process remain connected.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing technology is unlike subtractive processes, including turning and milling, which removes material from a solid block at a controlled rate to form desired shapes. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing develops products layer by layer, offering limitless design flexibility and freedom. This technology enables medical parts manufacturers to create components with intricate geometries that are complex or impossible to achieve with traditional processes. Additive manufacturing technology provides high-performance and lightweight medical parts with innovative designs.

Advanced Materials

Advanced materials and alloys, such as composites, high-strength steels, aluminum alloys, titanium alloys, and copper alloys, are an innovative trend in custom sheet metal fabrication. The demand for advanced materials and alloys continues to increase significantly, even though traditional metals such as aluminum and steel are commonly used to fabricate medical parts. These materials provide increased resistance to different factors and improved strength and durability, allowing medical parts manufacturers to make superior-quality parts that meet customers’ dynamic needs. For instance, titanium alloys exhibit a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio, making them widely used in fabricating medical parts.

Computer-Aided Design CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

Fabricators in the metal manufacturing industry gradually embrace CAD and CAM software to optimize efficiency and ensure precision in medical parts fabrication. These tools enable designers and engineers to design detailed 3D models, simulate them, and test them before mass production. Furthermore, CAM software facilitates seamless programming of CNC machines for reduced lead time and cost, improved accuracy, and consistency.

Is it Ideal to Utilize Sheet Metal Fabrication for Medical Parts?

Sheet metal fabrication process

Sheet metal fabrication meets the medical industry’s high standards when fabricating durable, superior-quality medical parts. More so, it facilitates the creation of reliable and efficient built-to-order medical components. We’ll discuss some aspects of sheet metal fabrication that make it a precise technique for medical parts:

Material Compatibility

Sheet metal fabrication is an adaptable and reliable process compatible with different biocompatible sheet metals like titanium and stainless steel and is suitable for various medical applications. These materials are often famous for their high strength and durability since they are corrosion–resistant and can withstand sterilization without degrading.

Customization and Flexibility

Sheet metal fabrication technology has ushered innovation in the medical sector. As a result, medical part fabricators often transform sheet metal into aesthetically appealing parts to meet the specific needs of patients. Sheet metal fabrication enables the creation of highly customizable designs with complex geometries and specific material requirements.

Sheet metal fabrication also offers the flexibility to prototype medial parts for specific medical procedures rapidly. It enables faster medial parts development and testing before mass production.

High Accuracy and Precision

 fabricated metal parts for the medical industry

Sheet metal fabrication, a precise and highly versatile technology, can achieve tighter tolerances crucial for medical parts and instruments to meet stringent standards and requirements. It can offer reliable solutions for MRI applications and create important medical parts that demand high precision, such as surgical equipment and scalpels. There is little to no error margin since most sheet metal fabrication techniques are automated.


The scalability of sheet metal fabrication makes it a compatible and reliable technology for medical parts production. It allows you to create personalized single components or mass-volume medical parts quickly.

Compliance with Regulatory Standards

The sheet metal fabrication technique is in high demand in the medical industry because it can meet industry standards, including ISO 13485, to ensure that fabricated medical parts meet the required safety and quality requirements. Similarly, the traceability measures of the fabrication processes help maintain quality control and meet regulatory requirements.

Other Alternatives for Medical Sheet Metal Parts

CNC Machining sheet metal process

Manufacturers in the medical sector use other manufacturing methods aside from sheet metal fabrication to create metal parts. We’ll discuss common alternative medical sheet metal parts manufacturing below:

CNC Machining

CNC machining is a versatile and widely embraced manufacturing technique in the medical industry. It allows medical parts to be produced with complex geometries and intricate features. CNC machining processes are compatible with different metallic and non-metallic materials. CNC machining provides high precision and superior surface appearance in medical parts that require high dimensional accuracy, such as orthopedic implants and surgical instruments.

Injection Molding

This is another alternative process for manufacturing medical parts. Although it is primarily used for making plastic components, manufacturers often adapt the method for metals. Injection molding is ideal for producing complex medical parts with complex shapes and fine details in high volume. Typical injection molded medical parts include components of diagnostic equipment, syringes, and housings for electrical medical devices.


Metal extrusion is a cost-effective and reliable medical parts-forming process compatible with sheet metals like steel and aluminum. It involves applying a compressive force to press hot or cold metal through a die to form different medical components of preferred shapes and sizes. The metal extrusion process is ideal for making long medical parts with excellent strength-to-weight ratios and uniform cross-sections. Similarly, it provides components with fragile walls, such as 1mm for aluminum and 3mm for steel components. Tubing for medical devices and structural elements are common extruded metal parts used in the medical sector.

3D printing

This additive manufacturing technology comprises different techniques that allow manufacturers to create different medical parts and components layer by layer. Due to its versatility and faster lead time, 3D printing is widely used for making custom medical parts with complex geometries.

This manufacturing technique is compatible with different materials, including plastics, ceramics, composites, and metals. 3D printing allows the production of custom medical tools, surgical guides, and patient-specific parts like prosthetics and implants.

Metal Casting

Casting is another alternative manufacturing process for making precise medical parts. It involves filling a mold cavity with molten metal and allowing it to form the desired part as it solidifies. The casting process is well suited for making high-strength and precision medical parts and components of equipment. Die casting, permanent mold casting, investment casting, and sand casting are typical casting methods. This technique is compatible with magnesium, zinc, and aluminum materials. Typical cast medical parts include frames and enclosures.


Sheet metal fabrication is a robust process and an excellent choice for making precise, top-quality medical parts that meet the industry’s rigorous demands. With its myriad methods and compatible materials, sheet metal technology offers extensive benefits, including fabricating lightweight medical components, extensive material compatibility, high efficiency and accuracy, and scalability to faster turnaround times, all of which contribute to the advancement of the healthcare sector.

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