Sheet metal workers make and install metal building parts and products.
Sheet metal workers build products used in construction. They build roofs, siding, rain gutters, restaurant equipment, and other products made from metal sheets. They may also work with fiberglass or plastic materials.
Some sheet metal workers specialize in one of the following areas, but most do all three.
Sheet metal workers usually fabricate their products at a shop. They study plans to determine the kind and quantity of materials they will need. They measure, cut, bend, shape, and fasten pieces of metal to make duct work, counter tops, and other custom products.
In some shops, workers use computerized equipment. This allows them to try out different layouts to find the most efficient design for products. They cut or form parts with computer-controlled saws, lasers, shears, and presses. In shops without computerized equipment, sheet metal workers use tapes, rulers, and other measuring tools for layout work. They use machine tools to cut or stamp the parts.
They finish parts with hand, rotary, or squaring shears and backsaws. Workers fasten the seams and joints together with welds, bolts, cement, rivets, solder, or sheet metal drive clips. They also use shears, hammers, punches, and drills to make parts at the work site, or to alter parts made in the shop.
Some jobs are done completely at the job site. For example, to install a metal roof, sheet metal workers measure and cut the roofing panels. They secure the first panel in place, and fasten the grooved edge of the next panel into the grooved edge of the first. They nail or weld the free edge of the panel to the structure. This process is repeated for each panel. They also work at the job site to install solar panels, cool walls, or wind turbines.
Some sheet metal workers specialize in maintaining existing cooling and ventilation, or HVAC, systems. They inspect, test, adjust, and service these systems to use less energy. They may also do inspections to make sure the HVAC systems meet green certification standards, such as LEED.