What is metal fabrication?
Metal fabrication refers to a palette of processes like cutting, welding, machining, bending and other assembly processes performed on metal materials and result in certain products. In most cases, the end product is either a machine or other similar structure. Usually large manufacturing and building capacities use metal fabrication processes to build a certain machine or structure, but small ones can benefit from them as well.
Mainly used materials?
As the name suggests, the main category of used material is metal. It’s important to make a difference though; it’s not simply any type of metal, but raw materials: plate metal, formed and expanded metal, tube stock, welding wire and rod, and casting (pouring liquid metal into a mold).
What are the main processes?
As explained before, metal fabrication is a mix of processes made in order to get to an end product:
- Cutting and burning – raw materials need to be cut first so they can be shaped and sized. For this purpose, many metal fabricators (in) Melbourne use CNC cutting torches, plasma and laser cutting tables and water jet cutters, which all use different cutting techniques.
- Forming – also known as material deformation in order to get the desired shape of the metal piece;
- Machining – this is the phase when unwanted material from the block of metal is removed;
- Welding - mainly in the focus of steel fabrication, this is a procedure for joining pieces together by applying fusion.
The most commonly used metals in metal fabrication processes are steel, magnesium, iron aluminium, copper and nickel, with their own grades respectively. The advantages of fabricating these metals are:
- Heat resistance – due to their higher melting point, metals don’t degrade that easily under elevated temperatures;
- Versatility – metals can be processed in a wide range of processes including the additional deep drawing, forging, soldering, chipping;
- Cost effectiveness – in high-volume and long-term production runs, metal is very cost effective.
- Design limitations – complex geometries and shapes may not be easy to produce due to the high viscosity most metals possess;
- High start-up fees – metal tooling costs are simply high. Compared for example to tooling costs for plastic materials.