Metal Fabrication

Metal Fabrication refers to the building of metal structures by cutting, bending, or assembling metal components. As with many manufacturing processes, human labor and automation are both utilized.

  • Cutting for metal fabrication is achieved via manual or powered sawing, shearing, or chiseling; torching with handheld oxy-fueled or plasma torches; or via CNC cutters, using lasers, torches, or water jets.
  • Bending for metal fabrication is achieved via manual or powered hammering, or via press brakes and similar machinery.
  • Metal fabrication assembly (joining of the pieces) is achieved via welding, adhesive binding, riveting, threaded fasteners, or crimped seams (which require further bending).

The end product of metal fabrication may also be called a fabrication. Thus metal fabrication is a broad term covering a number of different disciplines, many or all of which are usually provided by machine shops.

Metal Fabricatiors

  • Anderson Industries provides precision metal fabrication and trailer manufacturing services.
  • Pendarvis Manufacturing is a full service machine shop providing metal fabrication in Los Angeles area of California, including CNC machining and welding services. Pendarvis welders are certified for aluminum, structural steel, and stainless steel, and Pendarvis holds a Los Angeles fabricators license. Metal fabrication for everything from high volume and high speed machining to prototyping and custom metal fabrication.
  • Tempco Manufacturing has been providing their metal stamping and metal fabrication services to a wide variety of industries for over 70 years.
  • Anderson Dahlen Inc. is a full-service manufacturer and fabricator of stainless steel products, custom stainless steel equipment, and specialty stainless steel systems for the food & beverage, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Carson Valley Inc. specializes in custom stainless steel fabrication, with a focus on detail and craftsmanship. Their fabrications are ideal for architectural, industrial, mechanical and commercial applications.
  • Condux International is a leading fabricator of tools and equipment for the electrical contracting, electrical utility, telecommunication and CATV industries.
  • Innovative Metal Designs (IMD Fabrications) is a world-class job shop specializing in high-speed machining, CNC milling & turning, fabrication and assembly of component parts
  • Jonathan Engineered Solutions is an industry-leading fabricator and manufacturer of precision metal slides, brackets, trays, assemblies, and more. They also manufacture precision machined components such as ruggedized assemblies, kits and custom engineered products.
  • Dalsin Industries offers custom sheet metal fabrication services. Based in Bloomington, Minnesota, Dalsin uses laser cutting, robotic welding, automated sheet metal bending, and other processes to manufacture parts and components for a number of industries.
  • Johnson Brothers Roll Forming creates roll formed metal products for any applications. They provide the entire roll forming process in-house, from conception to fabrication to completion. Johnson Brothers is based in the Chicagoland area.

The Metal Fabrication Process: An Overview

Metal fabrication is a value-added service that is used to create machines and structures from various raw materials. Metal fabrication is utilized by OEMs, contractors, and other manufacturers. The metal fabrication process is used to create any number of components, including loose parts, structural frames, and much more.

Shops that specialize in metal fabrication are often referred to as “fab shops.” Fab shops and machine shops often have overlapping capabilities, but the terms are not interchangeable. Fabrication shops concentrate on metal preparation and assembly, whereas machine shops, while they may also cut metal, concentrate more on machining metal parts with machine tools. Many shops provide both fabrication and machining services.

A number of raw materials can be used in metal fabrication, depending on the desired end product. Standard raw materials used include plate or sheet metal, formed metal (tube stock, square stock, I-beams, C channel, etc.), welding wire, hardware, castings, fittings, and others.

The first step in metal fabrication is design engineering. If design drawings are not provided by their customers, fab shops may employ or contract out steel detailers to prepare designs prior to fabrication. Manufacturing engineers program any CNC machining equipment that will be used in the fabrication process.

The raw materials are then cut to size, both to accommodate the needs of the design and to make the material easier to handle during fabrication. Materials for metal fabrication are usually cut via die cutting, though specialized band saws and chop saws are also frequently used. Cutting torches, plasma cutters, laser cutters, and water jet cutters are also common. Most of these cutting methods use CNC automation to cut out parts from the raw material. More complex CNC cutters may also include other capabilities to improve the metal fabrication process.

There are a number of forming and bending methods used in metal fabrication, the application depending on the design for the end product. Hydraulic brake presses may be used to bend cut metal to the desired angle; wing brakes and hand-powered brakes may be used for this as well. Tube bending machines are used to form tube steel into bends and curves without kinking. A variety of rolling machines can be used to form flat plate steel into a round or cylindrical section. Other, more specialized machines can be employed as well, to perform more complex forming and bending processes.

Many different machining processes may be used as part of metal fabrication, though, as mentioned above, fab shops generally have somewhat limited machining capabilities. The most common machining equipment used by fab shops includes drills, mills, lathes, and other portable metal working tools.

Welding is a key element of metal fabrication. After all cutting, forming, and machining processes are completed, the fabricated parts and components will be assembled and welded together per design specifications. Any of a number of special welding techniques and technologies may be used to create the weldments necessary to the design.

After all other processes are completed, fabricated products are usually painted and inspected for quality. Many fab shops offer additional specialized services, such as brazing, forging, heat treatment, or powder coating. Any of these additional services that apply to the job at hand are performed, and the finished products are then shipped to the customer.

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