Metal fabrication is the creation of metal structures by cutting, bending and assembling processes. It is a value-added process involving the creation of machines, parts, and structures from various raw materials.
Typically, a fabrication shop bids on a job, usually based on engineering drawings, and if awarded the contract, builds the product. Large fab shops employ a multitude of value-added processes, including welding, cutting, forming and machining.
Metal fabrication usually starts with drawings with precise dimensions and specifications. Fabrication shops are employed by contractors, OEMs and VARs. Typical projects include loose parts, structural frames for buildings and heavy equipment, and stairs and hand railings.
As with other manufacturing processes, both human labor and automation are commonly used. A fabricated product may be called a fabrication, and shops specializing in this type of work are called fab shops. The end products of other common types of metalworking, such as machining, metal stamping, forging, and casting, may be similar in shape and function, but those processes are not classified as fabrication.
- Cutting is done by sawing, shearing, or chiseling (all with manual and powered variants); torching with handheld torches (such as oxy-fuel torches or plasma torches); and via numerical control (CNC) cutters (using a laser, mill bits, torch, or water jet).
- Bending is done by hammering (manual or powered) or via press brakes, tube benders and similar tools. Modern metal fabricators use press brakes to coin or air-bend metal sheet into form. CNC-controlled backgauges use hard stops to position cut parts to place bend lines in specific positions.
- Assembling (joining of pieces) is done by welding, binding with adhesives, riveting, threaded fasteners, or further bending in the form of crimped seams. Structural steel and sheet metal are the usual materials for fabrication; welding wire, flux and/or fasteners are used to join the cut pieces.
Some examples of products made with metal fabrication include:
Miller Manufacturing is a precision metal fabricator located here in the US. Our experienced engineers and fabricators build parts for a wide variety of industries. Along with our wide range of services, our value-added processing makes us a one-stop shop for your custom metal fabrication needs.
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