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Metal Fabrication Terminology
Metal fabrication refers to the reshaping and assembly of metal. Manufacturers fabricate metal to use for building purposes, decoration, and to create new objects. In most cases, several of the processes listed below are required to fully fabricate a single item.
Machining - Machined metal describes metal that is altered through the use of lathes, mills, drills, or other metalworking tools.
Forming - If a piece of metal is bent into a different shape, this process is called forming. Plate steel, for example, can be rolled to create a circular cross section. Forming is used to create and supply the steel beams used on construction sites.
Welding - Welding is used to assemble pieces of metal. High heat is applied to melt the surrounding metal along with a filler material. When the area cools, the pieces of metal are strongly joined together. Copper, aluminum, and steel all require different types of filler when welding to create effective bonds.
Cutting - This simple type of fabrication uses a saw to modify metal. While most cuts will be straight lines, fabricators may cut decorative shapes out of sheet metal.
Stamping - Fabricators can use hot dies to stamp designs into the metal. Cold or hot dies can be used to cut standardized shapes from sheet metal.
With the exception of on site welding, most metalworkers fabricate metal by machine. However, artists who work with metal will use their hands to form pieces. Ironwork, for example, is often formed by hand. Artists may also use a forge to form ironwork.
Proper machinery is a necessity to fabricate metal. Steel, aluminum, and copper are popular metal choices that fabricators use for building machines, structures, and other pieces of equipment used at construction and industrial sites. Employees are experienced at working with metals and follow strict safety guidelines to keep everyone in the shop from getting hurt.
Sheet fabricator shops often bend sheet metal, weld, and assemble the pieces of metal to form a structure that a company has ordered. They use elements of architecture in order to create custom orders and have them shaped in a way that keeps the metal strong after it has taken its new shape.
Each fabrication company hires contractors that are experienced in working with metal, and understand how to weld, meld, and saw metals safely. Some fabricators concentrate in building certain products, such as metal frames and trailers. Others offer custom services for customers that need something with specific measurements. Companies that offer custom orders employ contractors that have experience in creating certain structures and know what must be done in order to resize or reshape the metal in a way that doesn't hinder the structure's strength.
There are companies that manufacture the parts needed for metal fabrication. When hiring a contractor to fabricate stainless steel, aluminum, or copper, it is important for them to know what they can and cannot do with the metal. Customers are able to ask each fabrication company how much they charge, what experience their contractors have, and how long it is expected to take before the order is completed.