Metal fabrication is a broad term referring to any process that cuts, shapes, or molds metal material into a final product. Instead of an end product being assembled from ready-made components, fabrication creates an end product from raw or semi-finished materials. There are many different fabrication manufacturing processes. Metal fabrication is used for both custom and stock products.
Most custom metal fabricated products are crafted from a range of commonly used metals and their alloys. Metal fabricators often start with stock metal components, such as sheet metal, metal rods, metal billets, and metal bars to create a new product.
Specialized metal fabricators are called fabrication shops. Contractors, equipment manufacturers, and resellers have metal fabricators work on a variety of projects for them. Many metal fabricators bid on jobs by submitting drawings, and if they are awarded the contract, they build the project. Once a contract has been awarded, metal fabricators begin the planning stages by ordering the correct materials and having an engineer program CNC machines for the project.
Fabrication shops may use multiple processes to create a final product. They may also provide finishing services such as deburring, polishing, coating, and painting, to the product. Finishing differs from metal fabrication in that finishing is a secondary process to treat the exterior of the product, not to shape it or to create a new product.
This article gives an overview of some of the more common metal fabrication methods and considerations when choosing the right shop for a metal fabrication job.
Types of Metal Fabrications
Choosing a metal fabrication method suited to a given project depends on part geometry, the product’s intended purpose, and the materials used in crafting it. Common metal fabrication processes are as follows:
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