Have you ever thought about how many steps go into the process of making a sheet of metal? If you haven’t, you might be surprised at the complexity of the process. This article outlines the different types of metal fabrication processes involved in the creation of metal items.
Cutting is one of the most common metal fabrication processes and involves separating one large piece of metal into two or more smaller pieces. Sawing is the oldest method of metal cutting, but other techniques, including laser cutting or waterjet cutting, are also quite common and precise.
Casting is another very old metalworking process. A metalworker will pour molten, liquid metal into a mold, causing the metal to harden into a specific shape. You’ve probably heard of a cast-iron skillet—this is just one of the items one can make with the casting process.
In the folding process, metalworkers manipulate metal into a specific shape through folding, the application of pressure at an angle. Folding is a fairly complex process that one can only perform with specific, high-tech equipment.
The welding process joins two different pieces of metal using very high heat at the point where the two connect. The methods to generate this heat will vary. If you’re looking for welding services, you’ll also want to note which companies are ASME certified and consider choosing one of those, as these companies will often have higher standards than uncertified ones.
Machining is a fabrication process in which a machine removes pieces of the metal. Machining can either be manual or computer controlled; the latter is called CNC machining. Milling and turning processes both fall into the machining category.
The punching process uses a specific set of tools, like a die and drill, to punch out sections in the metal. These punched-out sections can either be small holes or larger cutout shapes made in a process called blanking.
Shearing is similar to cutting but on a larger scale. The process uses an upper and a lower blade to apply pressure to the metal and make a long cut.
The last of the different types of metal fabrication processes we’ll cover is stamping. Stamping is similar to punching, except that the goal is not to punch all the way through the metal. Instead, stamping raises or depresses the metal at specific points to form shapes, images, or letters on the surface of the metal.