Sheet metal cutting equipment, also known as sheet metal shears or guillotines, are used extensively in the metalworking industry to create clean, precision cuts in pieces of sheet or plate metal. Guillotines range in size and capacity from small, hand-operated shears to larger, heavy-duty industrial-scale equipment. Depending on the type of guillotine, it can be used for either highly specific applications, or for general use, and although the higher-end guillotines can be quite costly, nevertheless they are an essential tool for any metalworking business.

Guillotines work by the simple yet convenient action of a pair of blades, much like the way scissors work. The higher blade slices through the metal at an angle so that the cutting force is distributed gradually along the piece of sheet metal, rather than all at once. A guillotine can have either a fixed blade gap or an adjustable one, and the cutting angle of the blades can also be fixed or variable, depending on the particular application; this is known as the rake angle. Driven by mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic action, the different types of guillotines available include:

  • Hand-operated shears: These are the smallest type of guillotine, as well as the most affordable. Being manually operated by either a handle or a pedal, the force of the blade is far greater than the force applied by the operator. These guillotines are most suited to small-scale operations.
  • Mechanical: This type of guillotine is driven by a revolving flywheel, which mechanically stores the energy that operates the machinery. Mostly suited to medium-scale operations, the average mechanical guillotine can cut a mild steel plate that is 3mm to 4mm thick. Non-powered guillotines can be operated either by foot peddle or by treadle.
  • Hydraulic: Driven by pressure from a hydraulic ram, this type of guillotine is suitable for heavy industrial operations. These machines are capable of cutting plate metal that is 5mm to 6mm or thicker. Although some heavier, high-capacity mechanical types are sometimes still used today for cutting thicknesses of about 30mm, hydraulic shears are in standard use nowadays. For cutting thicker mild steel of up to 20mm, hydraulic swing beam shears are typically used.
  • Pneumatic: This option is similar to the hydraulic guillotine type, but compressed air is used instead of hydraulic fluid.
  • Variable rake: Also known as a guillotine shear, this type of guillotine is suitable for cutting plate thicknesses ranging from 6mm to 30mm and is preferred for shearing thin strips as they reduce the probability of the metal twisting or bowing when cut.

For more information about industrial guillotines, contact a company like Shaw Machinery.