What Is Custom Metal Fabrication?
The term “metal fabrication” encompasses the entire process of building machine parts and structural components from raw metal materials. This means that everything from cutting and shaping to final assembly falls under the umbrella of metal fabrication. The various forms of custom metal fabrication are responsible for projects as small as part casting and can scale up to include entire pieces of equipment and machinery.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 1.425 million workers are employed by the metal fabrication industry. Other industries, such as auto, energy, and aerospace, heavily influence research and advances in metal fabrication. For this reason, many machine shops and manufacturers work to create a solid organizational strategy that allows them to make it through highs and lows in the market without worry.
8 Steps in the Custom Metal Fabrication Process
Typical metal fabrication will typically encompass some or all of the following eight steps:
Most metal fabrication processes begin with cutting sheets of metal into smaller sections. The size of these sections will depend largely on the product design and the limitations of any necessary machines.
In the folding process, metal surfaces are bent into various shapes. Press brakes and folding machines may be used to accomplish these bends, depending on the requirements of the design.
Welding bonds two separate metal parts by melting them and forcing them to join together. This could involve welding together two individual components to create a larger component, or putting large finished pieces together to complete a final design. Sheets, panels, bars, and a variety of other metal parts may be welded together.
In machining, a variety of different cutting and shaping tools are used to remove sections from a piece of metal. The metal will usually be rotated against certain tools to cut away pieces of the product until it’s reached its desired shape or size.
Punch presses use force to create holes in a piece of metal where other parts can be secured. This process may be used to allow fastening of other parts to a larger object or to create holes in a sheet which is later cut into smaller parts. Based on the design and size of the metal to be punched, this operation can be performed by a small manual punch press or a larger, more complex CNC punch press.
Shearing involves making long cuts in sheets of metal. This technique is often used to trim edges on long metal sheets.
Like punching, stamping uses compressive force against a die to shape a metal sheet, though stamping does not puncture the base material. Metal stamping has broad applications, such as putting branding or lettering onto a metal object, creating a specific design shape. More complex designs may use a series of progressive dies to create incremental changes in the object as it moves through the process.
In casting, molten metal gets poured into a mold and is left to solidify into the final design shape. This flexible fabrication process is frequently used to create complex shapes.
4 Common Metals Used in Metal Fabrication
- Pipe & Tube
Pipe & Tube are hollow. Pipes are always round in shape. Tubes can be square, rectangular or round. Pipes are pressure rated and intended to be used for the transference of fluids or gas. Tubes, on the other hand, are used in structural applications. Available in Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, and other materials in various grades
- Structural Metals
Any prefabricated piece of metal designed for standardized assembly is considered structural metal. This material is a key facet of the construction and engineering sectors, and common examples include bars, beams, angles, and channels.
- Plate and Sheet Metals
Flat metal is a raw material and comes prefabricated in a range of thicknesses, although pieces are often fairly thin. Types of flat metal include leaf metal, sheet metal, and plate metal. Applications vary widely, from construction to home appliances, to military and defense.
- Bar Stock
Round, Square, Rectangular Solid Shapes. Available in Carbon Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminium, and other materials in various grades. Can be machined, bend, rolled and cut to length for various applications
Custom Metal Fabrication Services at Reinke & Schomann
At Reinke & Schomann, we’ve been building our reputation as a quality partner since 1929. Our customers return to us for a project after project because they know that when a job needs doing, we’re the company that’ll do it right.
Contact us today to discover more about our custom metal fabrication capabilities and how they can help you succeed with your project.