What are brackets?
Brackets are connecting devices used to join two objects. In architecture, they may be made of wood or stone and used to join walls with features like parapets or eaves. In engineering, however, they are often made of sheet metal and used to support objects like shelving, countertops, flooring, sections of furniture, and mounted televisions.
Although there are many types of brackets, they are most commonly L-shaped, with the vertical section of the bracket attached to a wall (or another large upright structure) and the horizontal section attached to a smaller object being fitted to the wall, such as a shelf.
Brackets often have holes in them, either threaded or unthreaded, so that screws or other fasteners can be fed through them, but this is not a defining feature of the bracket.
Most brackets are functional, with their purpose being to connect and support objects. However, brackets can also be decorative: since brackets are often visible (such as on shelves mounted above eye level) they may have cosmetic features and flourishes, from intricately machined decorative features to gold plating.
How are brackets made?
Brackets can be made in various ways, such as casting or CNC machining. However, the best way to make simple brackets is sheet metal fabrication.
One of the most common sheet metal processes is bending, in which a machine called a brake is used to bend sheet metal to an angle up to 120°. This is perhaps the most important process when making sheet metal brackets, since virtually all brackets incorporate at least one bend.
Other sheet metal processes must also be used. Before any bending takes place, the sheet metal must be cut to size using a machine such as a laser cutter or plasma cutter. A punching machine may be used to make holes in the bracket (for screws), and welding may be required to add gussets or other features.
In addition to sheet metal processes described above, CNC machining may be used to add more complex features to brackets, especially with custom designs for nonstandard components.
Best materials for sheet metal brackets
Brackets can be made from a variety of metals, depending on certain factors, including: the load it must support, cosmetic requirements, surface finishing requirements, minimum and maximum thickness, required bending angles, and budget for manufacturing.