Fabricating metal involves the construction of various components and metal structures based on customer specifications. It is usually done on small scale basis and in metal shops. As opposed to the highly automated processes of manufacturing plants, metal fabrication proportionally has greater manual skilled labor involved. The process of fabricating metal involves manufactured and pre-formed raw materials such as sectional metals, metal plates and fittings.

There are three basic steps involved in fabricating metal objects from pre-formed materials. The aspects involved in fabricating metal are standard steps regardless of the specifications. The pre-formed raw materials must first need to be cut into the right sizes and shapes. Then some of them have to be bent to fit certain configurations. The different components are then joined together to form the structured specified by the customer.

The first step in metal fabrication is the cutting of the raw materials into various sizes and shapes based on the specifications. Both manual tools and power tools are used in the process. The process may involve shearing, sawing and chiseling. Various types of power tools may be used but using torches such as acetylene and plasma torches are also common. Other less conventional cutting tools such as laser and water jet cutters are also used.

Mechanical cutters, focused-heat cutters and high-pressure cutters are the three main categories of metal cutters. There are corresponding advantages and disadvantages of these various types of cutters. For instance, laser cutters are capable of highly precise cuts on metal plates. This type of cutter can be programmed to etch or cut any patterns on metal plates. The main disadvantage of laser cutters, however, is that their effectiveness is limited by the thickness of the metal plates that need to be cut.

After cutting the metal raw materials, they may need to be bent to form specific configurations such as curves and angular configurations. This can be done through manual hammering or with the used of hydraulic power tools such as press brakes. Heat may also be used to make the bending process much easier. Extrusion and hydroforming may also be considered as types of bending but they are less commonly used in metal fabrication.

The various pieces may then be joined together. Welding, riveting, bolting and applying adhesives may be done to assemble the various pieces. Several components may also be assembled through bending by forming crimped seams. Components that are joined using threaded fasteners are relatively easier to disassemble compared to other components that are joined using other means.

There may also be the need to process the fabricated metal product to provide protective layers against corrosion. Galvanizing process such as hot dip galvanizing in Perth may be implemented.

Other types of metal works may produce similar results but they are technically not classified as metal fabrication. Some examples of these include casting, forging and metal stamping.

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