Ductwork is essential to commercial HVAC systems. It’s also necessary for industrial and residential ventilation, smoke and odor removal, material conveyance, fume extraction, and food processing. Durable and flame-resistant sheet metal is used for duct fabrication in these applications, and specialized coatings are sometimes added to improve corrosion resistance.
Different sheet metals have unique properties, allowing professionals to choose the ideal materials for ductwork fabrication. Steel is a common choice for residential and commercial HVAC, offering durability and cost-efficiency. Stainless steel offers superior strength and corrosion resistance, making it the preferred material for industrial ductwork in chemical plants and other manufacturing environments. Copper is useful for ductwork that requires flexibility and resistance to moisture and chemicals.
To ensure the quality of ductwork, sheet metal fabricators use a variety of forming and joining techniques to transform flat metal sheets into functional ducts for ventilation, exhaust, and heating systems. Brake presses and roll forming machines manipulate the metal to create precise angles and bends in ducts. Once shaped, ducts are joined using riveting or welding to create strong and airtight bonds.
To maximize duct fabrication capacity, consider a few key tips to improve workflow efficiency and reduce downtime. First, eliminate bottlenecks. Identify the slowest step or machine in your fab shop and either add equipment to accommodate more production or stagger the operators’ shifts to avoid downtime. Also, balance product flow from one machine/fabrication station to the next so work in progress doesn’t build up between stations. When the same work sits in a queue, it consumes valuable time and resources.