Industry Spotlight: Sheet Metal Manufacturing for Aerospace

At Approved Sheet Metal, we have extensive experience fabricating high-precision sheet metal components and assemblies for aerospace industry customers.

Whether you’re seeking quick-turn prototypes or low-volume productions, ASM works closely with engineers to ensure every aerospace part adheres to the field’s stringent requirements. When you need aerospace fabrications fast, ASM gets your project across the finish line.

Could ASM be the right collaborative partner for your aerospace parts? Keep reading to find out!

ASM’s Aerospace Customers and Capabilities


When time is short, and quality is imperative, the world’s top aerospace companies trust ASM’s dedicated team to fabricate their custom sheet metal parts. You can find our aerospace fabrications in applications by BAE Systems, Bell, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Safran, SpaceX, and beyond.

Engineers often struggle to find an ITAR-registered, ISO 9001:2015 certified fabrication shop that can meet their needs for aerospace laser cutting, engraving, forming, hardware insertion, welding, assembly, and finishing. When you work with ASM, you’ll receive top-rated services for flat parts, bent brackets, welded enclosures, assemblies, and so much more.

ASM’s Approach to 6 Aerospace Challenges

Sheet metal fabrication is uniquely complex, and the aerospace industry’s exacting regulations present additional challenges. The good news? ASM is well-equipped to meet every one of those challenges head-on!

1. Part design

Aerospace design engineers aren’t always aware of the elevated costs associated with certain part features—and that’s okay; it’s our job to identify when a design element will require costly custom tooling or expensive specialized processes.

To safeguard our aerospace customers from unnecessary charges and long lead times, we always kickstart part and prototype sheet metal fabrication with an in-depth review of your project.

2. Materials

We fabricate aerospace parts from a variety of metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. Not all aerospace-grade materials are ideal for all fabrication processes, however.

6061-T6 aluminum is one particularly popular request, but this heat-treated material is extremely hard and prone to scratches, dents, and cracking—especially when bent to 90 degrees or more. When 6061-T6 aluminum is absolutely necessary, we advise engineers to design the part with internal radii equaling at least 2x–3x the material thickness.

5052-H32 is our preferred choice for aluminum fabricated parts. This non-heat-treated alloy enables scratch, dent, and crack-free fabrication with surprisingly smooth surfaces.

The supply chain is another factor to consider when selecting a part’s material. Certain stainless steel selections, for instance, are not readily available and may be difficult to obtain within your timeline or budget.

We’re always happy to suggest alternative materials, but we understand that modifying an aerospace order can be time-consuming at best and impossible at worst. Whatever the scenario, we’ll always communicate our concerns to you right away, offering our guidance so you can make the best decision for your project.

3. Hardware installation

Many aerospace customers utilize the same hardware inserts year after year, calling out that specific hardware on their prints. We’re huge proponents of using what you know works, but challenges arise when your hardware specification comes with a 5,000-piece minimum buy and a 10-week lead time.

If you’d like to modify your print’s hardware callout, we’ll work with you to obtain the proper documentation allowing us to swap unavailable hardware with an alternative that’s faster and more cost-effective to acquire.

4. Precision tolerances

Understandably, engineers commonly design aerospace components with very tight tolerances that cannot be relaxed. If your part’s tolerances are tighter than ASM’s standard sheet metal tolerances, we have highly experienced specialists in-house who can handle the job.

Depending on the part’s requirements, your quote may reflect a longer lead time along with any costs associated with achieving high-precision tolerances. However, the work will be expertly performed and indistinguishable from previous productions of the same part.

5. Finishing solutions

From anodizing to powder coating to plating, ASM offers a range of finishing services in-house and through one of our preferred NADCAP-certified vendors. If you require finishing from a specific vendor, we will gladly manage these services on your behalf, ensuring that the final product meets your specifications.

6. Quality control and inspections

Along with our status as an ITAR-registered, ISO 9001:2015 certified metal fabrication shop, ASM also maintains AS9102 capabilities and offers full certification packages for nearly all materials and finishes.

Occasionally, an aerospace customer will ask us to inspect their parts with our machine shop division’s CMM, but we advise against using a machining inspection tool for sheet metal parts; it’s almost always a direct path to rejected parts. Instead, we’re equipped with a full array of standard inspection equipment for sheet metal manufacturing, including pin gauges, calipers, blocks, and digital height gauges.

Looking for Aerospace Prototypes or Parts? Let’s Talk

At ASM, we don’t fire up the laser, activate the press brake, or even finalize your quote until we’ve had a detailed discussion about what you want, what you need, and how our team can deliver on every aspect of your part or prototype sheet metal fabrication.

Is your part a prototype? Are you open to a form-fit-function evaluation? Do you truly require precision tolerances? What concessions can you make if we identify opportunities to reduce your cost or lead time?

Our experts can fabricate even the most complex parts, but we’ll only proceed after we’ve completed a full assessment of your project and can tell you confidently that our team is right for your job.

So give us a call, and experience for yourself why ASM’s aerospace customers keep coming back to us for sheet metal manufacturing services!

Ready to get started? Request a quote.

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