Jul 25, 2020
What do Steel Fabricators do?
If you need something made from metal, then chances are you need the services of a steel fabricator. But have you ever stopped to think about how that metal component you need is transformed from raw metal into its precisely formed shape and size? Well, this is the work of the expert steel fabricator.
What is Steel Fabrication?
Steel fabrication is a form of metal work that involves the transformation of raw steel into a product that can be used for construction, assembly or a range of other purposes. Steel fabrication is required for everything from vehicle manufacturing to parts for household appliances to building and construction.
Fabricating processes are carried out by a variety of expert trades including welders, ironworkers, blacksmiths, boilermakers, machinists and engineers.
Fabricating involves specialist manual labour and automated processes including cutting and burning, bending and forming, machining, welding, blasting and coating.
Various different types of steel are used for structural and fabrication operations. Some of the raw materials required include plate metal, fittings, castings, formed and expanded metal, sectional metal, flat metal and welding wire.
Some commonly fabricated products include Universal beams columns, bar joists, platforms, pipes and pipe racks, trusses, gratings, skids and more.
Steel Fabrication Processes
The basic fabrication processes include cutting or burning, forming, machining and welding. These can be carried out manually, but for larger scale fabrication operations, these processes are often automated and driven by computer numerical control (CNC) systems.
Let’s have a look at a few of the most common steel fabrication processes.
- Cutting and Burning
Cutting or burning is used to cut pieces of metal into workable or custom sizes. There are a range of techniques used for metal cutting including shearing, circular sawing, torching or flame cutting, plasma and laser cutting and water jet cutting. These processes can be manually operated or CNC system operated.
Machining involves using specialised metal working equipment to remove material from the metal to create a desired shape, surface or finish. Machining is generally done with metal lathes, drills, mills and other machining tools.
Forming or bending involves working flat or sheet metal into a desired shape without adding or removing any material. There is a wide variety of tools and techniques used to achieve this. Roll bending is used to create arcs or curves in sheet metal. Press braking is used to create simple bends. Forming can be controlled using various tools including punches and dies. Other forming processes include compressive forming methods like rolling, extrusion, die forming, forging or indenting.
Tensile forming methods include stretching, expanding and recessing.
Welding uses high heat to soften or melt metal in order to join metal pieces as needed. Once the weld pool solidifies, the metal hardens fusing the pieces together. Welding is one of the most commonly used and versatile metal fabrication processes.
Common welding methods include oxyacetylene welding, arc welding (like MIG or TIG welding), resistance welding and energy beam welding (like laser or electron beam welding).
What Industries require Steel Fabrication?
Any industry that regularly uses metal will either directly or indirectly require steel fabrications services. These are some of the industries that rely on steel fabrication the most:
- Building and construction
- Vehicle manufacturing
- Shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing
- Civil infrastructure
- Heavy manufacturing
- Utilities and power generation
Steel fabrication is a specialist process carried out by highly trained and properly equipped metalworking experts. If you need fabrication services, make sure you contact a reputable professional.