Metal fabrication is an umbrella term that covers many processes. Each one of them is a field of its own that requires years of practice and a certain degree of skill and experience.
Tyler Shveyda is the co-owner of Twisted Steel Fabrication in Midland, Texas. Tyler learned about the fabrication industry by working as a welder for 10 years prior to starting his own company. His clients are mainly oil field companies. He explains what’s involved in steel/metal fabrication.
It goes without saying that cutting is an important process in metal or steel fabrication, says Tyler Shveyda. Cutting involves using different tools to cut sheets of metal into half or into smaller parts. The metal could be raw pieces that have just been manufactured or they could be pre-shaped pieces that need to be cut.
Welding is the exact opposite of cutting. Instead of splitting sheets of metal, you try to join together different pieces that have different shapes and sizes. The common denominator among the different pieces is that they’re made of metal. That’s because heat is often used to weld the pieces.
If cutting seems like an easy solution, folding is anything but. According to Tyler Shveyda, folding requires the surface of the steel or metal to be shaped into a specific angle. This process requires high-tech equipment that is only available in certain facilities and is done by highly qualified technicians.
When you want to create a shape into a sheet of metal without actually making holes in it, you use stamping instead of punching. Examples include forming letters on a metal panel.
Machining is like cutting metal, except that a machine is used to trim or cut the piece of metal. This is usually achieved by rotating the sheet of metal against the machine to trim off the excess parts or achieve the desired shape.
Casting is an old process that goes back in history. In its simplest forms, metal or steel is melted then poured into a cast. It allows for the smith to create just about any shape they want with metal.
As Tyler Shveyda explains it, punching is all about a drill making holes in a sheet of metal. It is a simple process, but one that requires high precision and great skill.
With shearing, you will make long cuts in the metal. Usually, it’s a machine that does the cutting and this can be done either horizontally or vertically.