What is Metal Fabrication?
Metal fabrication is the production of customized metal structures via cutting, bending, and assembly operations. It is a value-added process involving the creation of an end product from various raw metals. Common metals used in fabrication include Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Copper, Brass, and Bronze.
Cutting is done via numerical control (CNC) cutters, such as a laser or waterjet — and by sawing, shearing, chiselling, or torching. Bending is done via press brake tools or by hammering. Assembly, or joining of metal parts, is done by welding, riveting, threaded fasteners, crimped seams, or binding with adhesives.
How Does Metal Fabrication Work?
Metal fabrication typically occurs in four steps:
The raw sheet metal can be cut using a combination of laser cutting, turret press punching, mechanical shearing, and waterjet cutting. The cutting method often depends on a project's accuracy, material, and cost requirements.
Forming consists of one or more of the following techniques: folding, bending, stamping, punching holes, or machining. A piece of sheet metal that has been cut can be formed, stamped, or bent into the final shape. If the product requires holes, a drill or a hole punch is often used.
After the metal parts are formed into shape, they may need to be assembled into a desired configuration for the final product. Separate parts can be joined together by methods such as fastening, riveting, welding, or bonding.
For the final step, protective coatings such as paint, powder coat, or plating can be applied. The final product may also require cosmetic operations like brushing, polishing, or shining.
Advantages of Metal Fabrication
Metal fabrication offers many advantages, such as:
Material options and robust supply chain
Low tooling costs
Fast time to market
Versatility of quantity and requirements
Variety of fabrication and finishing processes
Metal Fabrication Materials
Many different materials can be used in metal fabrication, including:
Aluminum grades 1100 / 3003 / 5052 / 6061
Stainless Steel grades 304 / 316 / 410 / 430
Metal Fabrication Applications
Metal fabrication is used in a wide range of industries and products. Some examples include:
Aerospace: Components used in key functional areas of aerospace equipment including engine parts, exhaust, filtration and control systems
Industrial: Flow and moisture sensors, agricultural equipment, commercial door hardware, packaging equipment, heating plates
Medical: Blood analyzer brackets, cart storage trays, sterilization instruments, device chassis
Technology: Communications weldments, ATM chassis, lottery machine enclosures, audio housings, spring plates
Transportation: Brake discs, pedal guards, seat heater components, fitness controls, license plate brackets, mirror holders, polished heel guards