The exact origin and time of when man began working with metal is unknown, but there is no question that this monumental discovery has constantly held an extremely important place in human society. Rudimentary metalworking emerged during the earliest civilizations with the discovery of seven primary metals: gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, tin and iron. These metals were used for decorative pieces such as jewelry and religious relics, as well as for more functional uses such as tools, currency and weapons. Using heat and tools, early metalworkers began crafting many of the objects that we could not imagine living without today. Over time, metal work became increasingly advanced and gained value in society. Do you want to learn more? Click Metal Fabrication-Wiley Metal Fabricating Inc.
Today metals and metal alloys (the combination of two or more metals) are fabricated for use in virtually every commercial industry. Metal fabrication has played pivotal roles in the advancements of technology, transportation, agriculture and construction. In general terms, metal fabrication refers to any activity involving the construction of machines and equipment from raw materials. Fabrication businesses, or “fab shops,” typically perform metal preparation, welding and assembly. The term “machine shop” refers to a business that specializes more specifically in the cutting, shaping and assembly of machine parts. Many businesses today fall under both of these categories and offer fabrication and machining services.
Examples of work done by fab shops and machine shops are the construction of structural frames, miscellaneous metals for building finishes such as stair railings, and ornamental pieces such as iron driveway gates. For large construction projects, metal fabricators generally go through a bidding process and are then awarded the job by contractors. For a metal fabrication project, there are six primary steps: engineering, cutting and burning, forming, machining, welding and assembly.
Metal fabricators will either outsource or have in-house manufacturing engineers and steel detailers for the arrangement of shop drawings and the programming of equipment. Numerical control (NC) and computer numerical control (CNC) machine tools are typically included in a fab shop’s equipment for the sizing of the raw materials. Once the metal is cut to size, it is then formed to the desired shape using various methods and equipment such as hydraulic brake presses. The machining process requires strict attention to the engineering drawings and involves the turning, drilling and milling of metal in order to produce the specific parts for the project. NC and CNC machine tools are also employed during this step. After all the pieces are machined, they are then welded together according to instructions. Particularly with sensitive material, the welding process is a highly specialized skill. The final step of metal fabrication, called assembly, includes finishing details such as painting and inspection.