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Tips for Choosing the Right Materials for Metal Fabrication on Custom Auto Work

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Custom auto work can make your car quieter or more fuel efficient, if you were to enhance the exhaust or add another exhaust pipe. You might also add a type of body armor to your truck for off-roading, or add custom bumpers for a more sporty look. All of this will mean metal fabrication including welding, joining, and even punching.

Note a few tips for choosing the right materials for metal fabrication or for fabricated pieces for your custom auto work:

1. Steel versus aluminum

While aluminum can be very lightweight and in many cases, more affordable than sheets of steel needed for fabrication, it also requires specialized equipment and skill for fabrication. This is because aluminum is lighter and thinner than steel, so using standard welding equipment may just cut through and singe the metal.

Trying to join it with heavier rivets can also cause damage because of its lighter weight. Steel often holds up to the heat of a car's exhaust and may be able to bear the weight of a vehicle better, such as when creating custom shocks.

2. Tube structures

Often you can buy preformed tube structures that fit over a vehicle's exhaust, but you may want to note how it's been fabricated and the materials used, as this will affect its strength and durability. Hot rolled electric weld, often called HREW, is commonly used, but mandrel bending can be a better choice.

A tube run over a mandrel will typically retain much of its original strength, whereas a hot electric weld may weaken the piece. Look for DOM or drawn over mandrel bending when choosing tube structures for your custom exhaust or any other pieces.

3. Fastener grades

Your custom auto work will only be as strong as the fasteners you use, and these fasteners are usually sold by grade. The lower the number of the grade, the lower the strength. You might be tempted to invest in the lowest grade rivet or bolt you can find, but note the wear and tear they suffer when under your car or when holding the weight of a bumper. Usually grades 5 and up have the tensile strength needed for automotive applications.

You should see the grade number on the head of the bolt or rivet. Note however that grade 8 bolts are denser and may snap under stress, so they may be too high of a grade for fastening metal used on custom car work. Contact a company like Bronson Sheetmetal Fabrications Pty Ltd to learn more.