Metal fabrication is an umbrella term for a range of processes like folding, stamping, cutting, and welding that ultimately take a sheet of metal and form it to achieve a desired shape or component. In metal fabrication design, understanding the various fabrication processes as well as the compatible metals and their qualities will help you determine the right material for your application.
Types of Metal Fabrication
Metal fabrication and engineering cover a wide range of precise processes for manipulating metal, including:
- Casting. For this process, fabricators fill a mold with molten metal, which then takes the mold’s shape as it cools and hardens.
- Cutting. Relying on processes like laser cutting, shearing, and sawing, cutting separates a single metal piece into multiple ones.
- Drawing. The drawing process pulls metal through a die to form a particular shape, such as a tube or wire.
- Extrusion. A forming process that forces metal through a die to generate a workpiece of the desired shape, extrusion is common in producing rods, tubes, and other long components.
- Folding. This fabrication process utilizes a press brake or manual methods to bend metal, achieving a desired profile.
- Forging. Capable of strengthening metal material and producing complex profiles, forging involves applying heat to a metal workpiece so fabricators can work it with presses or hammers.
- Machining. A subtractive manufacturing process, machining uses methods like milling, turning, and drilling to cut material away from a workpiece to achieve its final shape.
- Punching. Punching utilizes a punch and die to cut shapes or holes in a metal sheet.
- Shearing. This process uses a shear to cut one metal workpiece into multiple pieces.
- Stamping. This sheet metal fabrication process involves shaping a workpiece into a specific profile using a die set and stamping press.
- Welding. Using one of various methods, such as MIG, TIG, or stick welding, this process connects multiple metal workpieces, using heat to fuse them into a single component.
Types of Metals for Metal Fabrication
Many metals are compatible with fabrication processes and the metal fabrication tools list. Some of the most common include:
- Steel. This carbon and iron alloy has widespread uses for its strength. Steel fabrication designs use carbon steel, a durable option for manufacturing and construction applications, and stainless steel, a stain- and corrosion-resistant material containing chromium for added toughness.
- Aluminum. Known for its corrosion resistance and strength-to-weight ratio, aluminum has optimal uses in automotive and aerospace applications.
- Iron. The primary metal in steel, iron is useful in manufacturing and construction applications and cast iron products for its durability and high strength.
- Copper. This soft metal is a malleable option ideal for plumbing parts and wires.
- Brass. An alloy composed of zinc and copper, brass is well-suited to crafting hardware and ornamental components.
- Bronze. An alloy composed of tin and copper, bronze is applicable in manufacturing components like bearings with a low coefficient of friction to improve wear resistance.
What Qualities Should You Look for in a Fabrication Material?
To select the ideal material for a project, consider the following:
- Application. Make sure the material can meet application-specific performance requirements.
- Strength. Choose a metal with the tensile strength to resist breaking despite the stress or load the end product must withstand in its application.
- Hardness. For applications requiring durable strength, select a material with sufficient hardness to resist lasting deformation.
- Resistance to corrosion. If your application involves exposure to harsh environmental conditions, use a metal with high corrosion resistance to prevent degradation.
- Ductility. For applications that need a part to deform or bend, choose a material with the ductility to resist breaking as it deforms under stress.
- Machinability. Ensure that your material is compatible with the required machining processes, such as drilling or shaping, and can achieve the desired tolerances.
- Weldability. When your project includes welding for joining parts into one larger component, opt for a material that’s compatible with welding processes.
- Configuration. Select a material capable of forming the specific geometry, shape, and size necessary for its end use.
- Prototype size. Like in regular production, consider if the material will meet the necessary shape, size, and formability requirements for a prototype.
- Production run length. Consider the size of your production run and whether or not a metal is available in the quantities you’ll need.
Metal Fabrication From Aranda Tooling
Aranda Tooling, Inc. offers in-house metal fabrication as well as stamping, laser cutting, welding, assembly, and more. Our company is backed by over 48 years of experience and advanced tooling to assist you from initial design to production and assembly. We carefully adhere to your product specifications, timeline, budget, and material needs, with all fabrication materials subject to PPAP verification for maximum quality control.
Aranda Tooling is ISO 9001:2015-registered, manufacturing over one million precision components weekly for worldwide industries ranging from automotive, construction, and medical to plumbing and hardware. To learn more about our metal fabrication capabilities, contact us today.
Metal fabrication is the process of making metal materials into various end products. The process can include bending, cutting, and assembling raw metal stock to form parts for electric appliances, chassis, automotive components, and more.
These wide-ranging applications mean that metal fabrication is a broad-reaching, steadily growing industry. Learn more about specific metal fabrication processes, the scope of the metal fabrication industry, and trends in this field.
How Is Metal Fabrication Performed?
Metal fabrication involves processing sheet metals into specific shapes and sizes to form an end product. Common metal fabrication processes include the following techniques:
- Cutting: Cutting is usually the first step in the sheet metal fabrication process and involves cutting sheet metals into smaller pieces using equipment such as lasers, saws, water jets, and plasma for precise cuts.
- Machining: Machining is a manufacturing process that removes materials from a stock workpiece to create an end product. Most fabrication companies prefer computer numerical control (CNC) over manual machining technologies since CNC machining offers faster processing and more precise output.
- Welding: Welding is the process of joining two or more metal pieces using pressure and heat.
- Punching: This process uses a die and a punch to create holes in specific locations of a metal workpiece.
- Drilling: Like punching, drilling also creates precise holes in metal workpieces, but it does so using a drill bit.
- Forging: Forging is a common metal fabrication process that involves forcefully compressing metal into a specific shape.
- Stamping: Stamping uses one or more punch presses to fabricate metal into various shapes and sizes.
- Drawing: Drawing is the process of using force to pull metal into a tapered die.
- Forming: Forming is any process that reshapes a metal workpiece using mechanical deformation rather than cutting away or adding material to the metal.
- Turning: In metal turning, a lathe rotates and moves a workpiece against a stationary cutting tool, which removes material.
Metal Fabrication Industry – Market Analysis and Size
A recent study of the metal fabrication industry suggests it is expected to rise from $20 billion in 2021 to nearly $29.5 billion by 2029. This increase is due to increased demand for metal products in various industries and new technologies—like additive manufacturing—that require mass metal fabricated products. Key industries driving the growth of metal fabrication include:
- Consumer goods
Industry Outlook and Opportunities
The metal fabrication industry has a positive outlook and promising growth potential. Below are some of the key opportunities and trends to watch out for in the industry.
Need for Greater Efficiency
Because critical industries around the world are increasingly demanding high volumes of metal fabricated parts, there will be a need for greater efficiency. Using advanced equipment and software will help fabricators reduce labor costs and optimize production efficiency.
Due to the need for higher efficiency, automated fabrication processes are expected to drive the growth of this industry. Robotics and other automated technologies like IoT devices will help companies minimize human error and free up employees for more specialized tasks.
Demand for Metal Machining
As the industry demands higher volumes and levels of precision from fabricated parts, there is an increased demand for companies like Aranda Tooling who specialize in multiple fabrication processes.
Need for Digital Pre-Programmed Production Techniques
Computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) programs are among the most crucial systems on any metal fabrication tools list. There is an increasing need for these systems as they facilitate the efficient design and manufacturing of precise metal products and components.
The Future of Metal Fabrication
Analysis of the growth of metal fabrication indicates there will also be significant growth in these industries:
- Aerospace: The aerospace industry will continue to propel the growth of the metal fabrication industry, as more metal aircraft and spacecraft components are needed for future projects.
- Construction: As commercial and residential construction projects continue to grow around the world, metal fabrication will be crucial to producing the necessary metal structures and other components.
- Energy: Energy industries require fabricated metal components to aid in energy distribution and production.
- Defense: The defense industry will drive the growth of the metal fabrication industry through increased demand for metal products in defense applications.
- Automotive: Automotive manufacturing will continue being a key driver of metal fabrication, as automobiles require a variety of fabricated metal parts.
Metal Fabrication and Engineering From Aranda Tooling
The metal fabrication industry will continue to grow and impact other industries in the coming years. At Aranda Tooling, Inc., we provide high-quality metal fabrication and engineering to a variety of critical industries around the world. Our team of approximately 300 skilled professionals produces more than a million parts per week. As an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer, Aranda Tooling ensures every customer receives the highest quality products and customer service.
Contact us today to get started on your metal fabrication project.