What is Metal Fabrication?
Updated: May 4, 2020
This seemingly simple question to those of us in the industry can be a little confusing for those just outside of the industry. Perhaps a little clarification can be helpful.
Metal Manufacturing, as a hole, could include numerous types of manufacturing processes. Lets name a few:
Forging Forming Blacksmithing Deburring Punching Welding Roll Forming Notching Milling Machining Polishing Metal Fabrication
Metal Fabrication, listed near the end here, is only one potential segment in an enormous field of metal manufacturing.
To make matters more complex, Metal Fabrication, by itself, has many subcategories and niches that would be impossible to comprehensively list.
A few general categories would be as follows:
1) Heavy Industrial Plate Metal
This might include enormous plate steel sometimes 1”-4” thick (even heavier) and fabrication processes like Plasma Cutting, Rolling, Welding, Heat Treating, Finishing.
Products might be Mining Equipment, Pressure Vessels, Tanks, etc.
2) Light Industrial Sheet Metal
This might include smaller weighted metal like materials ranging from 1/32” – 1/2” and fabrication processes like Laser Cutting, Brake Forming, Welding, Anodizing, Painting, Etc.
Products would be Computer Enclosures, Cases, OEM Parts, etc.
3) Heavy Structural Steel
This might include structural iron and beams that weight several hundred pound or more per a foot: I Beam, W Beam, Tube, Plate, Etc. Fabrication processes would typically be Sawing Cutting, Plasmas Cutting, Drilling, Welding, Sandblasting, Painting, Etc.
Products would be Structural Iron at Sky-Scrappers, Large Bridges or Tunnel Supports, etc.
4) Light Structural Steel
This might include structural tube, angle and beams that weight less than a hundred pounds per a foot: Beams, Tube, Angle, Light Plate, Etc. Fabrication processes would typically be Sawing Cutting, Plasmas Cutting, Drilling, Welding, Sandblasting, Painting, Etc.
Products would be Small Buildings, Small Bridges, Platforms, Supports, etc.
As just mentioned, metal fabrication is a term most used to mean manufacturing that includes cutting, forming, rolling, sawing and welding metal.
Buyers will often get fabrication confused with machining.
To be fair, there is some cross over and some parts assemblies do require both, but machining processes include manufacturing such as milling, lathing, routing, polishing, etc.
In addition, fabrication usually works with manufacturing tolerances at .010” – .030” whereas machining works with tolerances all the way down to .005” (and even smaller in many cases).
Metal Fabrication is still an enormous part of everyday life and most of us see it, or use it, without even knowing as much. Light rail transit cars, automobiles, snowblowers, electrical panels, guardrail, signs, etc., etc. Metal fabrication is everywhere!
Metal Creations is proud to be a part of such a stalwart industry that makes the world go-round.
Metal Creations Design & Fabrication like to boast that we have the best of technology and craftmanship.
Superior quality, superior delivery, superior performance—and perhaps the most important, our passion to make it all work.