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What Is Metal Fabricating?

Metal fabricating involves a range of processes done on structural steel shapes and steel plates to mould them into useful products. These processes include cutting, drilling, punching, fitting and welding. They are normally applied on sheet metal to transform it into products that possess both material value and aesthetic beauty. Three major processes can describe the fabrication process; cutting, bending and assembling.

Industries such as mining, agriculture, transportation and construction require customized metal fabricating processes to run efficiently. This is not a new thing since it’s an advancement of the ancient blacksmithing technologies that involved breaking and shaping of raw material into useful products.  Ancient metal workers used traditional fabrication methods to craft war tools, mining equipment and agricultural implements from mined raw materials. These activities were however slow since every process had to be done manually to perfection.

With the advancement in technology, the processes can be done easier, faster and more efficiently. Modern metal fabricators use advanced cutting tools such as oxy-fuel torches, plasma torches and numerical control cutters that use laser, water jets and mill bits to cut metal into precise pieces.  Numerical control cutters are automated machine tools operated by programmed commands encoded in a medium. The programs generate a computer file that is interpreted to extract the appropriate commands for operating a particular machine through a post processor. The machines can be controlled by either a human or robotic operator depending on the desired mode of operation. The use of pre-programmed computer codes ensures that the material is cut and bent precisely, hence reducing wastage and irregularities.

Typical projects that involve metal fabricating processes include buildings, bridges, conveyors towers, heavy mining equipment, cranes, ship parts and logging equipment. Such projects do not have pre-defined material size and need everything to be customized depending on the immediate needs.  Some projects could require partial fabrication combined with pre-designed fittings while others complete makeover of every part.

Sheet metal is basically a flattened metal piece with thickness ranging between 8 gauges and 32 gauges. While steel and aluminium are the most common sheet metal materials, other materials such as gold, copper, platinum, nickel and brass tin also fall in this category. The fabrication of precious metals is however sensitive since little material wastage could lead to numerous losses. In most cases, controlledmetal fabricating processes are usually carried out in enclosed environments to minimize wastage.

This article gives a nice overview of the history of metal fabricating, nice read. The process for fabrication sure have come a long way.
Posted by: Andrew Germaine | June 11, 2015, 3:08 pm
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