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Fab Times

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Fab Times: an industry blog created and maintained by Schuette Metals.

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One thing identifying us as cogent beings is how we’re able to accomplish the same task using different methods. Simple things like adding air to a bike tire. You manually pump or use an air compressor.

That same concept applies to metal fabrication.

Custom Metal Fabrication

Waterjet CuttingAny changes made to metal, such as cutting, folding, welding, etc. are all part of the metal fabrication process. Each type of fabrication process means meeting a specific purpose.

For instance, cutting, one of the most common metal fabrication processes, is used to divide large sections of metal sheets and plates. In most cases, the cut metal is fresh.

Some of the most common metal fabrication processes are:

  • Cutting
  • Folding
  • Machining
  • Punching
  • Welding

Other methods include:

  • Annealing
  • Bending
  • Cold Forming and Rolling
  • Drawing
  • Electro-Discharge
  • Extrusion
  • Forge Hammering
  • Laser Cutting
  • Rolling
  • Spinning
  • Water Jet Cutting
  • Wire Cut EDM

Here are some other custom metal fabrication techniques and their applications.

Metal Fabrication MethodsSheet Metal Shearing

Shearing is a metal fabrication method used to cut long sheets of metal horizontally. In some applications, the cutting tool vertically cuts against the length of the sheet. Another shearing method moves the metal towards an open cutting blade, like a guillotine paper cutter.

The most common use of shearing is to trim the edges of the metal sheet. The resulting products from metal shearing are used in the manufacture of refrigerators, oven side panels, other household appliances, and the automotive industry. 

Stamping—The Use of a Die

It is essential to start with clarifying that stamping isn’t the only metal fabrication process to use a die. In some applications, the purpose is making a hole, while in others to raise a part of the sheet metal without punching through it.

Stamping creates impressions for letters, images, logos, etc., on a metal panel or sheet. Coins provide an excellent example of the stamping process. 

The automotive industry stamps part and vehicle identification numbers of components. The electronic industry stamps patent and part numbers, as well.

Casting: Oldest Fabrication Form

Humans have been casting metal for hundreds of years. The process involves pouring molten metal into a mold, which then solidifies. Casting may be the oldest method, it’s also the most flexible. When fabricating complex shapes, casting becomes the easiest option.

Casting overcomes the issues associated with other methods of fabrication—making assembly parts needing folding, stamping, and shearing. 

Metals like copper, silver, iron, magnesium, and steel are metals often cast because of their use across a diverse range of industries.

Common Fabrication Examples

The most typical items produced are metallic cabinets, enclosures, ventilation shafts, hoods, exhaust systems, tanks and prototypes.

In Sum

Much of the metal fabrication techniques used today have been in use for many hundreds of years. 

Modern machines and the understanding of metallurgy have improved the fabrication process. However, metals still are amongst the most complex natural materials to work within many industries.

Advancements in technology and metallurgy improved the quality of metal fabrication. Despite these advancements, working with the metal remains one of the most complex natural materials to work with. 

That’s why metal fabrication still requires an understanding of the metal and the use of associated machines.


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