Metal fabrication is an important industry in the United States that employs an estimated 1.42 million American workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It involves cutting, manipulating and assembling metal materials to produce metal structures. Among other things, metal fabrication is used to make automotive frames, building panels, roofs, fuselage panels for planes and more. And while different metal fabrication companies use different techniques, most rely on three basic processes: cutting, bending and assembling.
The first process of metal fabrication is cutting. During this process, the metal fabrication company cuts one or more pieces of raw metal for use in the creation of a new metal structure or product. Whether it’s steel, aluminum, iron or any other common type of metal, though, cutting metal requires special tools. Some metal fabrication companies use torches to cut metal, whereas others numerical control (CNC) machines involving lasers or water jets. When finished, the company will have clean, appropriate-sized sheets or sections of metal with which to work.
After cutting raw metal, metal fabrication companies must bend it. Again, there are different ways to bend metal after cutting it. Some metal fabrication companies hammer the metal sheets or sections into the desired shape. Hammering can be done by hand, or it can be done using a machine (power hammering). Recently, though, many metal fabrication companies have begun using press brakes to bend their metal. This heavy industrial machine automatically presses metal sheets and sections into a specific shape when engaged. It essentially clamps the metal between a punch die, forcing the metal into the desired shape.
The third and final process of metal fabrication is assembling. As the name suggests, this process involves assembling the metal sheet or sections into the desired finished product. Assembling is typically performed via welding, though other steps may be included in the process as well. In addition to welding, for example, metal fabrication companies may crimp seams, apply screws or other fasteners, and apply glue. After assembling the metal, the company will finalize the product before shipping and selling it to its customers.
Metal fabrication is a driving force behind the country’s ever-growing manufacturing sector. Although there are countless machines and techniques used by metal fabrication companies, must rely on a three-step process that consists of cutting, bending and assembling. These three processes allow metal fabrication companies to transform raw metal materials into new products.