Metal fabrication is the process of shaping objects in line with predefined specifications. The metal is shaped by bending, stamping, folding, cutting and welding. Once the metal has been shaped, fabricators convert the sheet metal into products. The sheet metal needs to be flexible so that it can take on different shapes.
Sheet metal fabrication plays an important role in the manufacturing of everyday life products and building structure materials. Simply put, anything that has a metal surface has been fabricated from sheets of metal.
Benefits of Metal Fabrication
Metal is known for its structural integrity and long-lasting attributes. However, the benefits of metal fabrication go beyond just these well-known qualities.
Metal is resistant and has great structural strength but is also easy enough to manipulate and bend to any shape. Plastic is a popular alternative however, its strength and longevity cannot be compared to metal. Metal is much more durable and has higher heat resistance in comparison.
Metal is a versatile material that is capable of withstanding different manufacturing processes such as welding, forging and peening. As it is heat resistant, it can withstand high or low temperatures and is the choice for many different industries.
When produced in high volumes, the cost of sheet metal production is relatively low. Metal fabricating machines are capable of replicating the metal fabrication process and produce sheets of metal at a low cost per unit.
Metal Fabrication Process
Different types of metal require specific fabrication processes. This generally involves welding, machining and shearing. Manufacturers tend to rely on fully mechanised processes and systems. This automation allows for precise work and minimises the chance of errors.
Though most metal fabrication focuses on the cutting and shaping of metal, there are several steps typically involved in a successful fabrication project. The 3 main stages in a fabrication project are:
- Assembly and finishing
The design stage is considered to be the most important step in the process and starts with selecting the correct method and material. Choosing the right material depends on what it will be used for. Copper sheet metal is popular in the electric industry due to its flexibility and ability to conduct electricity.
The process often begins with a prototype that gets refined and tested. Modern metal fabricating processes usually use computer-aided design programs (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) during the manufacturing process.
The second step is the building process. A trained metal fabricator cuts and shapes each of the sections from the design phase. This part of the project requires unique and specific machines to carry out the particular process.
Assembly and Finishing
The final stage of the process is assembling and finishing. These processes help ensure that the material is ready for its intended use and that there is no excess material left.