Metal Fabrication: A Step-By-Step Guide

Sheet metal fabrication is a crucial prototyping and production method that delivers a broad spectrum of metal products used for various applications. In this fabrication process, flat steel or metal sheets are transformed into metal structures and products by cutting, punching, folding, and assembling. Through this technique, any metal can be bent, shaped, or stretched by using cutting tools or by heating.

Subsequently, sheet metal fabrication offers a number of advantages, which is why fabricated products are used in various industries. Depending on the materials and specifications, sheet metal fabrication delivers the following benefits:

  • Strength And Durability: Sheet metal components can withstand more extreme pressure and heat than plastics and other materials. Steel, aluminum, and other sheet fabrication materials are unsusceptible to stress, corrosion, and wear and tear.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Sheet metal fabrication is a more economical choice than plastic production, as molds and casts are not needed to produce high-volume runs of sheet metals.
  • Malleability: Using the right equipment, sheet metals can be bent into various shapes while retaining their strength and structural integrity.
  • Sustainability: Sheet metals are reusable and recyclable, making them one of the most sustainable materials. When no longer needed, sheet metals can be repurposed by transforming them into different components.
  • Replaceability: One of sheet metal’s biggest edges, among other materials, is its replaceability. If a particular component is defective, manufacturers can easily remove the said part and replace it without affecting the whole workpiece.

These metal products can be used as components for electronics, aerospace, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), and several other industries, including:

  • Farming
  • Railways
  • Medical industry
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plumbing
  • Automobile
  • Military
  • Telecommunications
  • Construction

This article will walk you through the step-by-step process of steel metal fabrication, the materials used, and the techniques employed.

Materials For Sheet Metal Fabrication

Sheet etal fabrication entails the multiple processes of altering the shape of metal sheets to generate the desired components and products. Manufacturers use this fabrication method to modify a variety of materials, such as:

  • Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Magnesium
  • Bronze
  • Copper

These materials for sheet metal fabrication typically come in gauges with 0.006″ to 0.25″ (0.015 to 0.635 cm) thickness. Materials with thicker gauges are best used for fabricating heavy-duty parts with strenuous applications, while thinner ones are more pliable and used for applications that require components with more complex shapes.

Sheet Metal Fabrication Techniques

Before diving into the step-by-step process of sheet metal fabrication, it is crucial to learn and understand the diverse techniques fabricators employ. This section will also include some of the metal fabrication tools used in the following techniques.

  • Cutting Metal: This technique involves the cutting and trimming of sheet metals using tools and machinery like water jets, torches, lasers, and saws.
  • Bending Metal: Sheet metals are curved into a particular angle to create unique bends and edges in this technique. Metal brakes or form benders are commonly used for bending metals.
  • Welding: Welding is one of the most common metal fabrication techniques that manufacturers employ. This process uses heat to fuse or join two or more materials to produce a metal component.
  • Shrinking: Using heat and tools like a shrinking machine and tucking forks, sheet metals are shrunk to give shape to fabricated products.
  • Stretching: In the stretching technique, fabrication equipment like English wheels, hammers, anvils, and professional stretcher machines are used to create elegant or intricate metal creations.
  • Finishing: The finishing technique removes imperfections like abrasive edges and burrs by buffing and coating using preventative materials.

The Step-By-Step Process

Depending on the materials used, sheet metals that underwent fabrication vary in the features they possess. For example, some are known for their robust strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance, while other metal products are lightweight and malleable. Here are the basic guidelines for the metal fabrication process.

Step 1: Design and Drawing

The fabricating process starts by finalizing the design of the desired product. In this step, clients usually submit their final blueprints to manufacturers before the actual fabrication process. This blueprint should also include the specifications required to manufacture the metal product.

Step 2: Blank-Cutting

During the second step, flat sheet metal blanks are cut out from their large coils in preparation for the subsequent steps. The sizes of the blanks vary depending on the specifications of the final product design.

Step 3: Punching

Also a cutting technique, punching produces holes of different shapes and designs to the sheet metal blanks. This step is typically completed using a punching machine. However, some fabricators use laser-cutting technology to achieve holes with optimum precision.

Step 4: Bending

With a Press Break machine, the sheet metals are bent at different places and angles in consideration of the design specification. In this step, the bends are created in sequence to ensure that the current bending will not affect the execution of the following bends.

Step 5: Assembly

After fabricating all the necessary components in the previous steps, assembling the workpieces comes after. Finally, a welding machine is often used to combine the pieces to create the final product. Other times, O2 and spot welding are alternatives used to assemble these metal parts.

Step 6: Finishing

In this process, the assembled product undergoes a series of finishing techniques to achieve the desired physical appearance of the metal piece. Finishing includes cleaning, coating, painting, and galvanizing. In addition, heat treatments may sometimes be applied to products that are meant to withstand unique working environments.

Step 7: Quality Control

This step focuses on verifying if all design specifications are met during the metal product fabrication. Here, manufacturers test the product to guarantee optimum quality. The product will be tossed back for corrections if a functional error is observed. Usually, metals with defects undergo welding or a special straightening process to remove blemishes and fix their defects. Once the metals pass the specification requirements, they will be qualified to move to the final step.

Step 8: Packing And Shipping

Once the quality has been checked, fabricators will send the finished products to the final step for packing and shipping.

Why Choose Farris Group For Your Sheet Metal Fabrication Needs

Over the past 40 years, Farris Group has grown into becoming one of the leading fabrication and finishing facilities in the United States. With over 230 employees and 200,000 square feet of combined working space for all three locations, our company provides superior customer service, innovative manufacturing, and incomparable product quality.

We offer the following capabilities for our custom fabrication services:

Metal Fabrication Services For Big And Small Projects

Fabrication at Farris Group is limitless. Because of the availability of tools, equipment, and ability, we guarantee to complete any custom metal fabrication project. Moreover, our extensive engineering, programming, machining, and welding knowledge allows us to create metal parts of diverse shapes and sizes.

The Finest Equipment For Metal Fabrication

Because we believe that our machinery mirrors our capabilities, Farris Group has invested in the latest equipment and technology for fabricating metals. As a result, we can achieve metal fabrication with outstanding precision and efficiency through various laser-cutting equipment. Additionally, we have 15 press breaks that enable us to bend and form metal of varying thickness and size. We can also cut and shape metals for multiple uses, thanks to our top-notch mills and lathes.

Our Fabrication Drivers: Quality And Consistency

Farris Group is ISO 9001:2015 certified. Because of this, we are driven to maintain consistent and excellent services by providing metal products that are meticulously fabricated to perfection.

When you partner with us, we guarantee to work with you from start to finish. Our experienced engineers and specialists are equipped with outstanding skills to guide you on the most efficient methods to manufacture your products.

Apart from our fabrication services, Farris Group offers a wide range of machining, mechanical prototyping, laser cutting, kitting and assembly, metal forming, welding, powder coating and painting, and pop displays manufacturing.

Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you!