Metal fabrication involves transforming raw steel into a finished product using various techniques and metalworking equipment. The metal fabrication process creates components required for construction, manufacturing, and other engineering applications. Here are some insights into the basics of metal fabrication:
Designing a metal object is the first step of fabrication and can require computer-aided design, CAD, software. CAD software allows the designer to create a 3D visual representation of the component, including the dimensions, material, and specifications. The designer can then create a prototype or model to help visualize the final product and receive customer approval.
Various metal-cutting tools and techniques are used in metal fabrication, including water jetting, sawing, plasma cutting, and laser cutting.
Water jetting is a method that uses a high-pressure stream of water to cut through the metal. This technique is used when the material is too sensitive to heat or pressure. The water is mixed with an abrasive substance to increase its cutting power. As the stream of water hits the surface of the metal, it erodes the material away, leaving a clean and precise cut.
This technique is useful for cutting through thicker materials and can be faster than water jetting. To create a plasma cut, a plasma torch is moved along the surface of the metal, leaving a molten line in its wake. The compressed air blows away the molten material, leaving a clean cut.
Sawing is a more traditional method of metal cutting that uses a blade to cut through the material. This technique can be used when speed is prioritized over precision. Sawing can be faster than other cutting techniques because the focus is on creating rough cuts that can be cleaned up later with other tools. Circular saws, band saws, and hacksaws are standard pieces of metalworking equipment.
Shearing is a metal cutting method that uses a punch and a die to cut through the material. The metal is placed between the punch and the die, and pressure is applied to the punch. As the punch moves downward, it cuts through the metal, leaving a clean and precise cut. Shearing is commonly used when cutting sheet metal.
Laser cutting is a modern metal cutting method that uses a laser beam to cut through the material. This technique is precise and can be used on various metal material types. As the laser moves across the material’s surface, it melts and vaporizes it, leaving a clean cut.
Forming involves the manipulation of metal into a desired shape. This step in the metal fabrication process can be accomplished using various tools and techniques, including hydraulic press forming and roll forming:
Hydraulic Press Forming
Hydraulic press forming involves using a hydraulic press to shape the metal according to the desired specifications. The hydraulic press applies pressure to the metal, which helps to bend and shape the sheet of metal. Hydraulic press forming can be used on various metals, including aluminum, steel, and copper.
This forming technique can help create components that have a continuous shape, such as pipes and tubing. To achieve this shape, a series of rollers are spaced out along the length of a metal sheet. As the sheet is moved through these rollers, it is shaped into the desired form.
The joining process involves connecting individual metal parts to create a final product with strong and durable connections between the metal parts. The most common methods of joining are welding, riveting, and soldering. Welding involves heating metal to a liquid state and using it to join metal pieces together. Riveting involves using mechanical fasteners to connect the metal parts. Soldering involves heating the metal pieces and applying a melted filler material to create a secure bond.
Finishing is one of the final steps in metal fabrication that involves coating, painting, or polishing the metal to improve its appearance, functionality, and durability. The most common finishing techniques are powder coating, electroplating, and anodizing. The chosen finishing method depends on the desired finish and the intended use of the metal product.
Choose the Best Metalworking Equipment
By taking advantage of modern technologies, metal fabricators can create sophisticated designs and products. This equipment and technology help the metal fabrication industry grow and evolve. Visit local manufacturers and distributors to explore their products and find the right metalworking equipment for your needs.