Metal Fabrication: The Complete Guide
Metal fabrication is a vital part of modern industries since various parts and components rely on it.
That is why understanding the different processes during metal fabrication is critical.
Here is a look at the critical questions and feedback on metal fabrication.
History Of Metal Fabrication
The history of metal fabrication dates back to the 10th century. This is from the evidence available of copper melting in northern Iraq. Early inventions that relied on metal fabrication included the hydraulic press, railroads, telegraph lines, and weapons. Advancements in technology such as compressed air facilitated easy metal fabrication.
Metal fabrication has grown to include nearly all sectors of our lives. You need this process to manufacture various items like weapons, machinery, and equipment. The advantage is new technologies keep emerging, which help in the fabrication process. Such technologies include the use of different alloys and the latest machining technologies.
Casting metal is the process of fabrication that involves pouring molten metal into a mold with a negative impression of your product. This results in the formation of products with a positive image once the mold cools. The two main types of casting metal are expandable and non-expandable. Expandable casting metal involves using a non-recyclable mold to fabricate your product.
Molds in non-expandable casting metals are recyclable, which helps in saving the overall fabricating cost. The advantage of casting metals is its simplicity and compatibility with different metals. Considerations for casting metals include the design and shape of your metal product, surface finishing type, and nature of machining.
Cutting metals entails removing unwanted parts of your metals and retaining the wanted position for further processing. Cutting ensures you use the right material size for fabricating your metal products. You also reduce waste by ensuring you utilize your metal as per the requirement which would help if you took proper measurements before cutting your metal.
The main cutting techniques are grinding, drilling, turning, burning, waterjet laser, and plasma cutting. Factors for selecting a particular cutting metal technique are metal and cutting costs. You also have to consider the thickness of your metal before choosing the proper cutting technique to use.
Drawing uses tensile force to pull metal into and through a tapered die. The die stretches the metal into a thinner shape. Usually, drawing is performed at room temperature, called cold drawing. But the metal workpiece can be heated to reduce the required force.
This process is considered deep drawing when the end product has a depth equal to or greater than its radius. It is usually used with sheet metal fabrication to turn sheets into hollow cylindrical or box-shaped vessels.
Folding metal helps in giving you the right design for your metal product. This process only alters the shape of your metal to meet your considerations.
The main folding metal processes are air bending, bottoming, coining, folding rotary bending, wiping bending, and wiping bending. The choice of which method to use depends on the fold and metal you are using.
It is essential to check on the angle of folding metal and the size of the folding to get the perfect fold. You can fold your metals before other fabrication takes place or after joining the different parts of your metal product.
Forging entails giving the metal product its shape through various techniques like hammering. This can be through cold, warm, or hot forging.
Cold forging entails hammering the metal when it is at room temperature. When you beat the metal when it is above room temperature, then you use warm forging. Hot forging involves hammering the metal at a temperature above the metal’s recrystallization temperature. Temperature varies depending on the metal you are forging.
Forging is a simple and cheap way of forging your metal since it does not require a lot of expertise. However, it would help if you were cautious when performing hot forging.
Extrusion metal involves forcing your metal which can either be hot or cold, through a die to form a metal product. It is a process that works well on aluminum, steel, copper, titanium, zinc, lead, and magnesium.
This process is cost-more effective than the others since it does not require many resources.
Machining is a fabrication process that entails removing the unwanted parts of your metal. There are various techniques you can use to machine your metal, including drilling, milling, and turning. Drilling creates a hole in your metal through a drill bit. Turning creates a cylindrical shape of your metal by using a rotating lathe.
Milling removes layers of your metal until you get the desired shape and size of your metal. The different milling types available are angular, plain, form, and climb milling. The choice of which milling to use depends on the thickness of your metal and the shape you want to obtain.
Punching creates holes in your fabricated metal resulting in a unique pattern. You can also punch your metal to make holes for fastening purposes.
The punching process is usually mechanical, but you can use electricity for smaller punches. Important considerations before punching include checking on the thickness of the metal and the size of the punch. Thicker metals are hard to punch by hand. However, technologies like CNC makes it easy to punch your metal. CNC is, however, expensive, which makes it impossible to use.
Understanding the size of the hole in your fabricated metal is critical in ensuring you have the right punch.
This process involves making a straight cut on your fabricated metal using a sharing tool. You can also shear your fabricated metal to remove unwanted parts.
Shearing allows for the creation of curves and bends on your fabricated metal. A scissor is one of the tools you can use to cut through your fabricated metal.
Shearing is the best option for thinner metals before joining the different parts. You have to check the measurement before shearing your fabricated metal.
The difference between punching and stamping is stamping does not create a hole in your fabricated metal. Stamping causes deformation on your fabricated metal.
This is by raising part of your fabricated metal. Stamping is ideal for forming shapes, images, and letters on your metal part. Stamping is ideal for thicker fabricated metals since the process does not penetrate to the other side. Fabricated metal stamping creates a unique pattern making it suitable for customization.
You have to check on the stamp before applying it to your fabricated metal. This ensures you get the correct dimensions for your fabricated metal.
Welding joins the different parts of your fabricated metal to form one piece. There are other methods of welding your metal. Standard welding methods are arc welding, TIG welding, and MIG welding.
Arc welding involves the use of an electrode to produce an electric current. This forms an electric arc when it comes in contact with your fabricated metal. Gas arc welding or MIG utilizes an external gas supply that heats an electrode to weld on your fabricated metal. You also have TG welding, which involves using a tungsten electrode to form an arc over your fabricated metal.
The advantage of TIG welding is it is ideal for welding thicker fabricated metals.
Bending aims to get the perfect shape and design for your fabricated metal. Checking on the measurements and turning angle helps give you the correct bend.
There are different bending methods for your selection depending on factors like the thickness of your metal and tilting angle. You can bend your metal at room temperature in cold or heat, turning it into hot bending.
Types Of Metals To Fabricate
The primary metals you can fabricate are:
Carbon Steel Fabrication
This type of metal is common in the fabrication of industrial metal parts. Its versatility makes it an ideal option for machinery and construction purposes. For instance, carbon steel can withstand harsh operating environments like corrosion.
Machining carbon steel is simple and is compatible with different surface finishing options. The advantage of this metal is you can get it in various thicknesses for your usage.
Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a polished silver mirror coating. The primary materials in stainless steel are aluminum, chromium, and carbon steel.
Its ease of bending makes it a relatively more accessible material to work on. You will find this material in applications that require anti-corrosive properties.
Aluminum is a lightweight metal which makes it widespread use in various industries. You can fabricate critical parts in industries but need to be light.
This is common in the aerospace and automotive industries. Its durability ensures you get the best of your metal part while minimizing the operating cost.
Metal sheet fabrication is the process through which sheets of metals like steel and aluminum are turned into useful components. These sheet metals are turned through techniques like; cutting, forming, bending, punching, assembling or stretching. Metal sheet fabrication finds its applications in various industries including but not limited to;
- Electronic industry.
- Telecommunications industry.
- Construction industry.
- Automotive industry.
- Aerospace industry.
- Energy industry.
- Lighting industry.
Some benefits involved with working in metal sheet fabrication include;
- Durable and strong parts
- The sheet metals are very malleable.
- Can be replaced easily
- Sustainable due to recyclability.
- Cost-effective in tooling
Metal tube fabrication refers to the conversion of metals into tubes and pipes through various techniques. Techniques used in the metal tube fabrication include;
- Cutting procedures using laser, flame, abrasive, plasma, water jet.
- Sawing processes through friction, band, circular.
- Forming processes like bending or end forming
- Other processes are finning, trimming, threading, spinning and beveling.
Metal tube fabrication is applicable in industries such as;
- Petrochemical applications
- Construction industry
- Agricultural and transportation industry
- Playground equipment.
Metal tube fabrication offer the following benefits;
- Resistance to heat
- Cost effective
Metal CNC machining referrers to a subtractive process through which the formation of parts is controlled via a computer. Techniques involved in the metal CNC machining include;
Metal CNC machining is applicable in industries like;
Metal CNC machining offers the following benefits;
- Reduced labor cost
- Accuracy and consistency
- Less waste
- Optimal productivity.
Metal rod fabrication refers to creation of parts in the shape of rods through the various techniques in fabrication. The techniques involved in metal rod fabrication include;
Applications of metal rod fabrication include;
- Wire products
- Hardware and hand tools
- Building and construction
- Farming and agriculture
Benefits of metal rod fabrication include;
- Minimal waste
The main benefits of metal fabrication are:
Metal fabrication is an effective method since you only deal with the parts you want. It is possible to have enough metal for the fabrication of your details.
This is by submitting the right design to your manufacturer to fabricate your product. Metal fabrication also reduces the cost of machining by lowering the cost of purchasing the machining tools
Value Addition To Your Products
The end product in metal fabrication is a high-quality product that you can sell at a profit. The entire fabrication process adds value to your metal
This is done by converting the metal in its raw form to a finished product.
You are free to customize your metal to have a product that fits your specification. The advantage of customization is you get a unique product for your requirement.
The leading technologies you can find in metal fabrication are:
This is computer software that allows for the designs of your metal parts. The advantage of this software is it simplifies the designing of the components using models like 3D.
You can then transfer this design to the fabrication process. This is ideal for the large-scale production of your metal parts.
Human interference in metal fabrication results enhances quality and quantity. This can translate into higher sales and profitability.
There are various stages of your metal fabrication that you can automate. This includes cutting, folding, welding, and surface finishing.
The use of modern technology in metal fabrication facilitates the production process. The machinery in use includes laser cutting, plasma, and waterjet cutting.
Machinery reduces the overall operating cost while increasing the quality of your output.
There are different fabricated metal parts that you can use in other industries.
Metal fabricated parts are common in various inductors and other purposes. Common interests you can find in these industries are:
Industrial Metal Fabricated Parts
Different fabricated metal parts are used in various industries along the assembly lines. These industries include aerospace, material handling plants, and alternative energy industries.
Besides, the fabricated metal parts in these industries usually range from large plates or sheets to small details like screws and nuts.
The advantage of industrial fabricated parts is they usually complement each other, which facilitates their use.
Structural Metal Fabricated Parts
These fabricated metal parts are common in the fabrication of construction materials. This is due to the high strength of these parts.
Also, the standard metal for fabricating these parts in stainless steel. This is due to the strength to weight ratio, which allows for stability.
Commercial Metal Fabricated Parts
These parts are used every day in commercial structures like restaurants, public spaces, stores, and municipal buildings. Details you can find here include guardrails, shelving, conveyors, and a sink.
There is also another fabricated metal hatch in ornamental or decorative pieces. These parts are ideal for external commercial buildings.
Again, the parts are usually smaller than those of structural elements.
The process of custom metal fabrication involves you having the right design for your end product.
Furthermore, the design should be as per the available quality standards.
Once you have the right design, you must submit it to your manufacturer for approval. The advantage of customization is you are free to select the proper machining process.
This includes selecting the cutting, welding, and surface finishing options. However, customization is expensive due to the personalization effect that your manufacturer undertakes.
An ideal manufacturer can allow you to negotiate depending on various customization processes that you want on your metal.
Again, the final product should adhere to the available quality standards to enhance its quality.
You have to consider the following when selecting a metal fabricating company
Experience In The Metal Fabricating Company
Choosing a metal fabricator with relevant experience can help in minimizing hitches during the fabrication process.
You need to check on the track record of the fabricator and if they have worked on a project similar to yours.
Such a fabricator saves on time and overall cost while ensuring you get the right quality of your metal product.
Capabilities Of A Metal Fabricator
An ideal metal fabricating company should have the necessary capabilities to manufacture the right metal product. There are different capabilities that you need to check on a fabricator.
They are design capabilities that hat checks the ability of your fabricator to get the right design for your product.
Besides, they also have to actualize the plan from the paperwork.
Capabilities also include the material capability of a fabricator.
This involves their ability to have different metal materials and work on them to get the actual product.
You also have to check on the production capability of a fabricator. This includes checking on the cutting, assembling, and surface finishing of your metal.
Quality Standards Of Metal Fabricators
You must ensure your metal fabricator has all the required certificates to work on your metal product. Such a certificate assures you of quality and a responsive company in case of a complaint.
A reliable company can easily show you these documents for ease of cooperation.
Price Of Metal Fabrication Process
Different fabricators quote their services differently to attract their clients. Price comparison is critical to getting the best fabricating company to work with.
It is, however, vital that price and quality complement each other for you to get the best metal fabricating company.
For all your metal fabrication inquiry or questions, contact KDMFAB now.