Unless you’re out in the wilderness, you’ll be hard pressed to look around you without noticing something made of metal. The metal fabrication industry is responsible for most of the metal items you notice. Metal fabricators are behind large metal items like bridges, industrial clean air systems, truck beds, and airplane hangers while fabricators with an artistic flair are responsible for decorative items like garden sculptures or custom fittings. 

Whether metal fabricators are creating massive structures or small items that fit in the palm of your hand, they all use a range of techniques used to transform raw or semi-finished metal materials into final products. 

Metal Fabrication Processes

The three main metal fabrication techniques are cutting, bending, and assembling. These techniques can involve the use of various types of machinery that employ heat, pressure, or chemicals to shape metals, making metal fabrication a highly skilled occupation. Read on to learn more about each. 

Cutting:

Metal pieces, whether they come in sheets, wires, or other forms, need to be the correct size before they can be shaped. The process of reducing metal to the required size and rudimentary shape is called cutting. Depending on the metals involved and the resources available, a metal fabricator may use different cutting methods to achieve their desired results. For example, they may use torches to cut through metal or use specialized machines like numerical control (CNC) machines for work that needs precision.

Common cutting methods include:

  • Laser Cutting

Uses a focused laser beam to precisely cut through metal.

  • Plasma Cutting

Utilizes a high-temperature plasma arc to cut through various metals.

  • Waterjet Cutting

Pressurized water mixed with abrasive material cuts through metal.

A quick method for cutting large sheets of metal is called shearing. Shearing cuts metal along a straight line using shear blades. One blade (or die) remains stationary while the other moves through the metal sheet, cutting it as it goes along. 

Bending, Stamping, and Punching:

Once a metal sheet or pipe is of a desired size, a fabricator may need to bend that piece into a particular shape. This may be done by hammering the metal into shape by hand or using a machine. Press brakes are commonly used for precise folding.

Another way of shaping a metal is via stamping. Stamping presses metal into specific shapes using dies. It’s widely used for mass production of parts like automotive components. Similarly, punching creates holes or shapes in metal using a punch and die set. It’s commonly used for sheet metal and structural components.

These methods are commonly used as they reduce the amount of metal waste produced, save time, and achieve high levels of precision.

Assembling:

Once metal parts have been fabricated, they may need to be incorporated into larger piece. This is the assembling stage. There are several ways that the metal parts may be attached to a larger assembly. Screws and rivets are the more obvious methods. Welding is another well known method of assembling. Welding joins metal pieces by melting and fusing them together. 

Other Metal Fabrication Processes

Naturally, these aren’t the only processes that are used in making metal items. Forging is one of the oldest methods of shaping metal. Here, metal is heated to a high temperature and force is applied to achieve a desired shape. Think of the blacksmiths you see in medieval programs, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how it works. Today, however, more modern machinery may be used to achieve desired results. 

Metal is fabricated into wires or tubes using a process called drawing. Drawing applies tensile force to pull metal through a die, elongating and shaping it. 

Soft metals like aluminum are shaped into bars or pipes using a method called extrusion where they are pushed through a die to create complex cross-sectional shapes. 

A skilled metal fabricator will be trained in multiple metal fabrication techniques and will know how to carry out the necessary safely. It’s also important to remember that not all metal fabrication workshops may have the capability to carry out all the necessary processes, so you need to choose one wisely. 

A Touch of Brass, we have over 40 years of experience in the metal fabrication industry, offering comprehensive services from design and fabrication to installation and maintenance. Our workshop has the capability to carry out complex and large scale metal fabrication works to meet industrial and commercial needs.

Contact us today and let us know what you need!