Metal shaping in IC² is the process whereby raw metal inputs are transformed into a variety of output products.
Using shaped metal instead of bare ingots in crafting recipes allows for more depth in the process; however, it does require the appropriate tool(s) for the job.
The first necessity for metal shaping is, naturally, metal. Dust (or other ore processing products) must be smelted into ingots before being worked into other forms.
The second necessity is the appropriate tool for the desired product. Manual shaping requires either a Forge Hammer or Cutter, while machine shaping (including additional recipes not possible with manual tools) is accomplished with a Metal Former and (for dense plates) a Compressor, and optionally a Block Cutting Machine.
In the table below, the Metal Former's modes are identified by the appropriate icon - hammering , cutting , and extruding . The other machines' recipes are noted by their machine icons. Note that only hammering and cutting recipes (the first three in the table) can be accomplished manually.
Bronze, lead, and steel (refined iron) do not have corresponding cables. Also, extruding a copper ingot produces 3 cables, compared to 2 from cutting a copper plate (whether with a Cutter or in the Metal Former).
Although not metals, it should be noted that the Compressor can also create dense plates from lapis and obsidian.