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Shearing involves cutting sheet material down from sheet stock to more manageable sizes. Sheet metal starts out in large coils and is then flattened and cut into a standard sheet size of 4 feet by 10 feet. This is the size that most metal fabrication companies deal with the raw material in. A shear consists of two square or rectangular pieces of steel that are precision ground down to precise dimensions that act as blades to cut the material. Shears vary in the thickness of material that they can process, but .25 inch steel is generally the thickest material that makes sense to cut on a shear.

Stainless steel can be processed in a shear up to 14ga (.074 inches). The reason thicker stainless is not cut on a shear is because stainless shear strength increases as it gets thicker so it would end up chipping the blades and ruining the cut. Shear blades can only be turned four times before they must be replaced. Thicker material are therefore better processed on a laser.

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