Metal fabrication is a process that involves the shaping of raw materials into finished products. It necessitates a high degree of skill and knowledge, as well as experience in the industry. The end result is often something that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. Custom metal fabrication can be used to create all sorts of different items, from car parts to industrial kitchens. If you’re looking for a skilled professional who can take your raw materials and turn them into marketable items, then you need to contact a metal fabricator today! Read on to learn more about the metal fabrication industry and reach out to us if you have any questions.
How is metal fabrication performed?
The process of metal fabrication generally involves taking raw materials like steel and aluminium and then heating them up and combining them into a single piece. Once the steel has been formed, it can then be shaped into the desired form. This often requires the use of specialized equipment, as well as a high degree of accuracy and precision. In order to ensure that the final product meets all of the necessary specifications, it’s important to work with a metal fabrication company that has extensive experience and knowledge in the industry.
How much do metal fabricators make?
Many metal fabricators are skilled professionals from various backgrounds, including welding, ironworking, blacksmithing, and boiler making. These experts use raw materials to create final products. Specialisations include Boilermaker, Welder, Brass Finisher, Metal Template Maker, and Structural Steel Trades Worker.
Within the metal fabrication industry in Australia, according to Labour Market Insights there are 38800 metal fabricators employed across the country. Of these, 93% hold full-time employment. The average age of metal fabricators in Australia is 37 years old, with females accounting for only 1% of all employees. The average wage in Australia is around $55,000.
According to Zippia.com, within the United States, there are over 77,023 metal fabricators currently employed. 5.9% of all metal fabricators are women, while 94.1% are men. The average age of an employed metal fabricator is 43 years old. The average annual salary in the United States is $38,047 USD with an average starting wage of $29,000 USD.
Interesting fact: The majority of metal fabricators within the USA are located in Lafayette, IN and Atlanta, GA.
Based on the ABS Census 2016, Customised Report, metal fabricators work in industries such as:
Professional, scientific and technical services
What qualifications do I need to be a metal fabricator in Australia?
You will need a Certificate III in Engineering (Fabrication Trade) to work as a metal fabricator in Australia.
What are some common applications for metal fabrication?
There are all sorts of different applications for metal fabrication. Some of the most common include:
bolts and screws
Metal Fabrication Processes
The metal fabrication process works by cutting, folding, welding, machining and/or punching. Metal fabrication shops will use the most appropriate fabrication process for the type of metal being used for the project being completed. It is important to note that there are differences between metal fabrication and welding.
Cutting metal sheets is the most common fabrication process. You can cut them into halves, quarters or different sections. In plenty of instances, the actual metal that is cut is actually brand new and hasn’t been moulded into anything of purpose. In some situations, bars and other panels that have already been formed are brought for tasks such as cutting. Cuts can be made on a variety of equipment, ranging from advanced lasers and plasma torches to even more advanced, latest-tech pieces of equipment.
Folding is an advanced metal-processing operation because it involves bending the metal surface at a particular angle. With folding, the overall goal is to fold the metal at a ninety-degree angle. You can do that by folding it less or more. Although the folding procedure is rather straightforward, it should only be completed in workshops that host specialist, advanced technology equipment because of the intricacy of the entire overall process. For certain projects, where a particular fold is required, joining two (or something more) metal panels with particular angles could end up being a more useful choice.
At BLV Engineering we specialise in MIG and TIG welding of Steel, Stainless Steel, and Aluminium and use pulsed welders to assist us in controlling heat input into a part, minimise distortion, and improve the quality of the parts we create.
The process of removing parts from a section of metal with the aid of a machine is called ‘machining’. More often than not, a lathe is used to rotate metal sections against specialist tools that cut the corners and the edges to cut the overall piece down to the required form or size. In other machining operations, a hole (or for some projects multiple holes) will be drilled straight through the metal surface.
When required holes are drilled in a metal object, the procedure begins with punching, which entails putting metal under a specialist die and being punched through by a particular drill. The punch must be the right size if the drill’s circumference fits properly through the used die. The intention of an application determines whether a punch is classified as a direct or indirect hit. Most of the time, the aim is to create holes in a metal panel for use with latches or foreign components. The material is then removed from the top of a bigger panel in order to produce a bit part that is smaller in applications such as blanking.
What are the advantages of metal fabrication?
Metal fabrication has many different benefits depending on the application, including:
Cost-Effective: Custom metal fabrication is often cheaper than other methods of forming, such as injection moulding.
Customisable: The shaping process allows for specific customisation to fulfil customer needs.
Fast Turnaround Time: Many types of steel can be formed quickly with minimal delays in delivery time.
Efficient Transport: Because steel is very easily portable, it makes the supply chain much more efficient.
Strength: Steel has a high level of strength and can withstand many different loads such as tension and compression.
Metal fabrication project steps
A successful metal fabrication project will follow a somewhat consistent series of steps that align with common metal fabrication processes. We’ve broken down the most common steps as follows:
In order to create a part or product, the first and most important step is to design it. Businesses come to us with different designs; some have a prototype, and others do not. If they do not have a prototype, we work with them to refine and test the design before starting production. Most metal fabricators use computer-aided design programs (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) during the manufacturing process in order to develop a 3D prototype of an object.
The next step in a metal fabrication job is actually to build the project. This involves cutting and shaping each of the components from the design phase. There are a wide range of tools used in these projects.
Every process has a machine that is designed to do that process. For example, if you need to make something out of metal, you might need a laser cutter, a press brake or roll forming machine. Each project is different, so the machines you need for each project will also be different.
We often use computer numerical control (CNC) tools to make sure each piece is cut to the design specifications. CNC tools extract a computer program that tells the tool how to cut the piece.
The last step in metal fabrication is to finish and assemble the pieces into the final product. In essence, these processes help to strengthen the product and ensure that it is ready for its intended use. Finishing techniques like deburring help to make sure that materials function properly and have no excess material. Beyond that, we can powder coat the product to ensure that it is aesthetically pleasing (if this is necessary).
Metal fabrication techniques
Cutting – there are many ways to cut materials. Sawing, shearing, and chiselling are all common methods that use handheld and powered tools. Another way is to use a torch with oxygen and fuel. You can also use a computer numerical control machine to cut materials with a laser, mill bits, or torch.
Bending is done by hammering (manually or with a power tool) or by using press brakes, tube benders, and similar tools. Modern metal fabricators use press brakes to bend metal sheet into form. CNC-controlled backgauges use hard stops to position cut parts so that bend lines are in specific positions.
Assembling – there are many ways to join pieces of metal. You can weld them together, use adhesives, rivet them, or use threaded fasteners. You can also bend the metal into shape using crimped seams. Usually, structural steel and sheet metal are used for fabrication. Welding wire, flux, and/or fasteners are then used to join the pieces together.
Metal fabrication examples
There are countless examples of metal fabrication. Here are just a few:
Car Parts: Bumpers, doors, exhaust systems, and engine blocks are all made through metal fabrication.
Kitchen appliances: Many kitchen appliances like ovens and dishwashers are made from steel that has been fabricated
Furniture: Custom metal fabrication is often used to create outdoor furniture like park benches and picnic tables
Pipelines: Steel pipes are fabricated and then welded together to create the long pipelines used in the oil and gas industry
Storage tanks: Large storage tanks for liquids or gases are made by fabricating steel into the desired shape
Structures: Metal fabrication projects are completed in the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures
Art: sculptures, chandeliers, and other metal art pieces are often created through metal fabrication.
As you can see, there are types of metal fabrication that can be used to create a wide variety of products. If you have an idea for a product that you would like to have fabricated, we can help you bring it to life.
Metal fabrication tasks
Common metal fabrication tasks include:
Studying blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine job requirements.
Selecting, cleaning and preparing metal stock.
Cutting marked-out metal sections and shaping using hand tools, flame cutting torches and metal cutting machines.
Shaping and bending metal sections and pipes using hand and machine tools, and by heating and hammering.
Aligning parts to be joined using hand tools and measuring instruments.
Joining metal sections using various welding techniques, bolting and riveting.
Examining welds for width of bead, penetration and precision.
Cleaning and smoothing welds by filing, chiselling and grinding.
What industries rely on metal fabrication?
Industries that rely on metal fabrication include:
Mining and resources sector
Military and Defence
Metal fabrication is an important process in many industries where raw materials need to be shaped into usable products. Metal fabrication entails moulding raw materials to their intended shape. Raw materials are heated and combined into steel before being formed into the desired form. The procedure necessitates a trained expert with the knowledge of converting raw components into marketable items, and there is often a high degree of tolerance. Steel fabrication is used in industry to make everything from car parts to industrial kitchens and other steel products.
We hope this guide on ‘what is metal fabrication’ and the overall metal fabrication process have been useful for you. At BLV Engineering we specialise in every step of the metal fabrication process and utilise a variety of raw materials like flat sheet metal, plate metal, molten metal and metal bars just to name a few. We have a team of highly skilled engineers with many years of experience in metal fabrication. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your next project.
Address: 3/12 Stoddart Road, Prospect NSW, 2148. We proudly service the entire Sydney metropolitan area including Baulkham Hills, Bella Vista, Blacktown, Erskine Park, Granville, Guildford, Hills District, Macquarie Park, Minchinbury, Northmead, Norwest, Parramatta, Penrith, Ryde, Smithfield, St Clair, St Marys, Westmead, Wetherill Park and surrounding areas.