The 3 Most Popular Metal Fabrication Processes In Use Today
If you've ever wondered how the pieces are created that make up the car that you drive or the cookware that you use in your kitchen, just take a look at the process of metal fabrication. Metal is an important part of your everyday life, from the lock on your front door to the sink faucet in your bathroom. By definition, metal fabrication takes raw metals and transforms them by cutting and bending those materials into various structures needed for other assembly projects. Here are three of the top metal fabrication techniques and the tools that are used to get the job done.
This is one of the most basic methods of metal fabrication. With this process, larger sheets of metal are cut into smaller pieces. After these segments have been trimmed down to the necessary shape and size, they are then utilized in other assembly products. To accomplish the cuts, fabricators typically use lasers, torches, or waterjet cutters. Waterjet technology has been rising in popularity in the metal fabrication field, as the extreme pressure from a waterjet is able to efficiently slice through metal at upwards of 90,000 PSI.
While bending (also known as folding or press braking) is a more complicated process than the others, it can help to create angular shapes in the metal. Usually, the metal is placed over a V-shaped die, and force is exerted upon the metal with a manual or powered hammer, a press brake, or other similar machinery until the desired bend is achieved. Since there are different sub-processes (including air bending and bottoming) that fall under the bending technique, it is paramount that you choose the right approach to avoid improperly shaped parts. Air bending is good if you need some flexibility in the degree of the angle, but it can also result in reduced accuracy. Bottoming, on the other hand, will give more precision in the final piece; however, if your V-die opening calculations are incorrect, the metal will become misshapen.
This method has been implemented for thousands of years and is still in use today. In fact, the oldest known piece of casting is a copper frog from 3200 BC. Casting is performed by pouring liquid metal into a mold and then left to solidify. Once hardened completely, the resulting piece is carefully removed from the mold. This process is ideal when parts are needed that cannot be easily created through any other fabrication method due to either a complex shape or a lack of access to heavy machinery. Engine blocks and machinery components are often made through casting, and steel, copper, iron, and silver are the most frequently used metals in this process.
Without metal fabrication, it would be very difficult to build many of the items that we use today. Since every application of metal fabrication requires a different set of tools, skills, and desired outcomes, a metalworker must always evaluate the specific project first to determine the best process to use.
To learn more about metal fabrication, reach out to a local metal manufacturer.