What is Custom Metal Fabrication?
by Todd McGonagle
Think of the term "metal fabrication" and the picture of a welder comes to mind for most people. While welding certainly is a part of metal fabrication, there's actually a lot more involved. In short, metal fabrication is the process of cutting and bending metal to form a part, product, or structure. What about custom metal fabrication? That's simply when a customer needs a piece or group of pieces specific to their individual needs instead of a piece with a standard size or look.
The Custom Metal Fabrication Process
When it comes to the process of metal fabrication, it's actually somewhat simple. You're either adding to metal, taking away metal, or bending metal into a certain shape. But just because the concept simple doesn't mean it is an easy task. Here's a look at the main aspects of the fabrication process...
Shearing: Shearing is simply cutting a sheet of metal. When the sheet is large enough to make multiple parts, the metal will be sheared to roughly the size needed.
Seaming: When one piece of metal has a "closed" feature or when two pieces of metal are joined together, it's known as seaming.
Bending: This is just what the name says. A press brake is usually used to bend metal, with a V shaped groove set to the desired angle.
Stamping: Stamping is used when a sheet of metal needs to be stretched and shaped into a three dimensional object. Virtually any object, like a gear, pot, or can is a result of stamping.
Corrugating: When you want to strengthen a piece of metal without adding to it, that's where corrugating comes in. This is commonly seen in cardboard boxes (it's when a box has the squiggly lines between two pieces of cardboard), and can dramatically increase strength over a standard sheet.
Milling: On the opposite end of corrugating is milling. When the weight of a piece of metal needs to be lessened, or when a piece needs to be more pliable, a small mill is used to take material from the surface. Milling can also be used to achieve a higher finish than a standard sheet.
Metal Fabrication Over the Years
In one form or another, metal fabrication has been around for many centuries. It has almost always been an important part of society. As early as 5,000 B.C., metal was being worked into jewelry and weaponry. Over time, metal working was in such high demand that it became a highly specialized art.
Centuries ago, metal fabrication just involved an individual taking metal and crafting an item to use or sell. But today's metal fabrication has dozens of different industries involved in taking metal from the earth and turning it in to something useful.
Over time, metal fabrication has only become more and more important. Today, virtually every industry imaginable uses some form of metal fabrication. From a tiny gauge on an airplane to a sensitive surgical instrument, metal fabrication is incredibly widespread. Without it, society would be drastically different than what we know today.
Who Uses Custom Metal Fabrication?
Where does custom metal fabrication come in? Plenty of places. When someone needs a metal product, but they need it made to specific parameters, custom metal fabrication is needed. If a business needs a metal handrail to go along a curved walkway on the lawn, metal fabrication is needed. If a business needs new signage, it's needed. If an automotive company needs a precisely shaped manifold, a motorcycle shop needs a specially designed metal logo for their bikes, or a park needs new benches – you guessed it, custom metal fabrication is needed.
It's obvious that metal fabrication is important. But even more important is custom metal fabrication. You're not getting a sea of mass produced parts that are all identical, but attention to detail in every single piece. When you have custom metal fabrication done, the result is something truly unique.