Metal fabrication techniques can vary depending on the desired end product, budget restrictions, and industry standards. There are a wide variety of methods and approaches to consider. Manufacturers can use metal fabrication to create innovative products and complex shapes and then test, finish, or distribute based on their goals. This article will look at custom metal fabrication techniques that manufacturers should consider and discuss the primary sheet metal fabrication methods to help you make an informed decision. When you make educated metal fabrication choices, you’ll be better able to meet your customers’ needs without sacrificing quality or extending lead times.
Custom Metal Fabrication Techniques to Consider
Advanced metal fabrication uses multiple methodologies with varying lead times, manufacturing requirements, and outcomes. Here are a few to contemplate.
Metal manufacturing always starts with sheet metal cutting. First, operators must determine the thickness of the material to accommodate the project’s specifications. Most computerized numerical control (CNC) machining experts then cut the metal using one or more of the following techniques:
The shearing process is a lot like using giant scissors. Teams secure metal sheets between two massive blades to cut and form materials.
This is an advanced technique used for sheet metal fabrication and other forms of manufacturing. It uses high-powered water streams to generate intense pressure and cut through sheet metal at variable thicknesses.
In laser cutting, the operator uses a high-speed laser to cut metals into complex shapes. The tools are extremely hot and dangerous, requiring expert operation and monitoring for optimal outcomes.
Similar to lasers, this cutting tool uses a powerful torch to cut sheet metal into specific shapes or sizes. However, operators can only torch metals that oxidize, such as steel or other alloys.
Experts can use circular saws and bandsaws for high-speed steel fabrication. This technique is preferred for thick metal sheets and favored by teams that need cost-effective solutions to many machining problems.
Cutting metal does not make it ready for mass production. Operators might also have to perform other processes, such as bending to form complex shapes. Once the metal is cut, teams can use any of the following metal bending techniques to continue the process:
This is a hands-on metal fabrication method, making it slower and more appropriate for custom projects. Operators bend sheet metal over a ledge before shaping it with precise hammer blows.
Manufacturers can clamp sheet metal between two gates and lift the gate to bend the material. This is one of modern metal fabricators’ most affordable bending methods.
Manufacturing relies on metal welding to form and shape liquid metal. There are also several options within this category, including
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding is an arc welding process that uses a continuous, consumable wire electrode. When using this technique, teams must use shielding gas to protect the welding pool from contamination. In some cases, this could prolong the metal fabrication process.
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode and an inert gas shield. Fabricators use TIG welding for cutting complex shapes into thick metal sheets. Be aware, however, that the robust cutting tools used in TIG welding could increase your project’s price tag.
With laser welding techniques, experts combine solid-state materials by transforming them into liquid metal through high-speed, high-heat applications. This saves time and money on custom metal fabrication.
Metal Shrinking & Stretching
Some custom metal fabrication projects require surface smoothing to remove dents. This method can also help them create complex shapes quickly. Here are a few customizable metal shrinking and stretching options:
Experts use a high-powered torch to overstretch the material. Later, the metal cools and returns to its original size.
Operators can use a planishing hammer and tucking form to fold edges before hammering them securely in place.
Many advanced metal fabrication facilities utilize shrinking or stretching machines to help expedite orders. However, the available rigs depend on several factors, including design complexity, material used, and any required metal finishing methods.
Other Custom Metal Fabrication Techniques
The techniques below can also be used to create unique metal forms:
- Metal stamping—Metals are stamped at room temperature to create indents and customized forms.
- Die Casting—Liquid metal is forced into a mold under high pressure in this relatively quick, cost-effective method that’s suitable for complex shapes.
- Metal Spinning—Spun metal parts are formed on a lathe that spins at high speeds as operators remove material to fabricate specific designs before further machining.
The metal fabrication experts at KRYTON can help you select the ideal methods for your products, budget, and timeline. Browse our website to learn more about us, or subscribe to our blog for regular updates about metal fabrication techniques and tips.