Jun 5, 2023Metal Working, Aluminum Extrusions

Similar, but Not the Same

As metal distributors, we understand that some of the services our industry provides can sound similar. Metal cut-to-length, slitting, and shearing all involve cutting, so what’s the difference? A great deal, actually. Each service creates a specific cut of metal, and the nature of your project might require one or the other, or in some cases, all three!

In this article, we’ll explain what these metal fabrication techniques are and when you’ll need them for your project.


What Is Metal Slitting?

Metal slitting is a metal fabrication process that involves cutting a large coil of metal into several narrower widths. The coils are first fed into an uncoiler that unwinds the metal and carries it through the slitter head and onto the slitter rewinder, which is a specialized machine designed to cut the metal into smaller strips. The slitter head has a set of offset knives that are positioned according to the desired width provided by the client and are used to cut the metal in a continuous motion. The machine then winds the newly cut strips onto separate, smaller spools.


When Do You Need It?                  

Sometimes larger cuts of metal aren’t ideal for a project, like the creation of component parts. Without slitting, you’d need to cut the metal yourself into more manageable sizes, which is a waste of your time and resources when you could receive your metal at more ideal widths to begin with.

Some examples of these types of projects include roofing, siding, fasteners, and other component parts. Metal slitting is also a great method for reducing metal waste and utilizing most of the original coil for your needs.


What Is Metal Cut-to-length?

Also known as a blanking line, a metal cut-to-length (CTL) service is like slitting, but as the name infers, it sets predetermined lengths rather than widths. CTL is typically used to cut metal into sheets or blanks. Prior to being cut the metal passes through a leveler under intense pressure to remove the bend in the metal caused by being wrapped in a coil. After being cut the machine stacks the newly cut blanks or sheets onto a pallet.


When Do You Need It?                  

Without Metal CTL services, you’ll be receiving a large coil of metal. However, if what you actually need is a pallet of flattened sheets, you’d have to do it yourself. CTL requires precise heavy machinery to achieve; without it, your metal will likely suffer imperfect cuts and unwanted bends.

Virtually any industry that requires specific lengths of metal will require CTL services. Metal blanks are used in everything from the manufacturing of equipment and products to the creation of factory machinery and building materials. Some of the most common industries that utilize CTL services include:

  • Construction
  • Automotive manufacturing
  • Medical
  • And agriculture


What Is Metal Shearing?

Slitting creates specific widths from coiled metal, CTL creates specific lengths from coiled metal, and metal shearing creates specific sheet sizes from larger sheet sizes. Shearing allows metal distributors to alter a previously cut sheet into a newly sized sheet. Most metals can be sheared, including:

  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Iron
  • Bronze
  • stainless steel

However, especially strong metals like tungsten are too tough to be sheared.

Metal shearing is a more simple process than the others previously described. The metal blank is held in place by the machine with clamps. Once it’s been correctly measured, a blade descends on the unwanted portion of metal and cleanly cuts it from the rest of the blank.


When Do You Need It?                                                                             

Shearing is required when a previously cut sheet needs to be altered further as requested by the client. Shearing is further reducing a sheet size to a smaller sheet size.


ADM Provides All These Services & More

Reliable metal distribution is an essential part of the creation process. Without the correct lengths, widths, and shapes, your metal materials are all but useless. Timetables are rarely forgiving, and the shortages and lengthened transportation issues brought on by Covid have only exacerbated the problem.

You need a metal distributor you can rely on to do the job right the first time. American Douglas Metals is a U.S.-based metal distributor that’s been proudly serving clients for over 45 years. We have the machinery and the veteran machinists to produce accurate blanks and coils via metal shearing, slitting, and CTL. In addition, we can also cold or hot-roll aluminum and steel and treat your metals with embossing, anodizing, and other treatments.

When you need the job done right, contact us.