13 January 2021
When cutting aluminium composite sheet metal, it’s vital to understand the intricacies of the metal itself. This helps you comprehend how to work with it, what not to do and what best practice is. Learning how to ensure an aluminium sheet is cut to size can initially seem a little daunting. However, with these tips from Perspex Distribution, you should find your feet in no time.
Whether your project is in the home, the workshop or on a building site, these tips offer key safety and wellbeing advice for cutting aluminium composite sheet metal.
This guidance summarises information found within the Alupanel fabrication guide and we recommend all users to refer to the full guide prior to commencing fabrication.
No matter the project, when it comes to cutting sheet metal, safety first. Start with your eyes. Don’t rely on thin glasses or your prescription glasses to protect your eyes from scattered debris. Instead, invest in thick, high-quality goggles that will guarantee that your eyes are protected throughout the process. If you’re using a power tool for this, use a respirator or face shield.
When cutting aluminium, there could be shards of metal which can be dangerous if they connect with bare skin. Ensure that your entire body is covered with gloves, long, thick sleeves and trousers, as well as wearing hearing protection.
Finally, even if you’re just at home, wear steady shoes such as trainers or walking boots. Your feet must be protected throughout.
The surface protection on the film can often be left in place during fabrication and all marking-out drawn on the film.
Sawing aluminium composite sheet is an easy process that can be done with ordinary commercial metal and woodworking equipment. Due to the nature of the Alupanel it is best to move the saw blade rather than the material as no scratch will remain on the panel. If good saw cutting practices are applied and recommendations followed, the result should be clean cuts with little burr. To achieve a good finish when cutting, all tools must be kept sharp. Most conventional tools for use with aluminium are suitable for use with aluminium composite sheets.
Projects like this must be done with plenty of time to spare and must never be rushed. This is because even for the most experienced people, it can be dangerous, and precision isn’t guaranteed without the time and focus it demands.
Additionally, the thicker the sheet is, the slower the cut should be. If you push through the metal too quickly, you risk damaging your blade and not achieving what you hope to. This is especially true if you’re doing your cut with a circular saw or jigsaw.
Ensuring that you’re using the right tools and have effectively secured the sheet means that you have more control over the outcome of your project, the quality of your cut and the care of your blade.
Cut slowly, patiently, and if your material moves, stop, and tighten it before continuing in your process.
Before committing to a particular sawing tool or method, it’s a good idea to perform some trial cuts to help conclude the most efficient saw for your requirements. Marking up your lines for cutting can be done by simply using a pencil – harder lines may run the risk of fracturing the panel surface. You could also use compressed air to blow away swarf formed during the cut, and help to maintain accuracy along the line.
With Alupanel, it’s better to move the tool rather than the aluminium sheet as you cut, which should result in fewer scratches and cleaner cuts. If there are issues achieving this, it’s recommended to check elements such as tool stability, vibrations, blunt edges and whether there’s too much heat produced.
Want to learn more about aluminium composite before starting?
We have a technical library of educational materials and fabrication guides for all our materials including aluminium composite. From there, you can learn about the properties of the metal, how it behaves and what to expect when you implement it within any project you undertake.