Custom metal fabrication is an integral part of our economy. It helps support innovation, and nearly every industry relies on the process to meet or exceed manufacturing standards while creating or enhancing product designs. This article will explore the various metal fabrication stages, from initial design through finishing and assembly, and how modern fabrication equipment and collaboration with fabrication professionals can help you turn your vision into a finished product.
Stages of the Custom Metal Fabrication Process
Taking projects from concept to creation requires planning and collaboration. Fabrication shops must follow multiple steps to adhere to ISO standards, safety regulations, budgets, and client requests. The process also involves joining, finishing, and assembly in preparation for distribution.
There are six main stages when it comes to the custom metal fabrication process:
- Material Selection
- Cutting and Shaping
Of course, some projects may not involve all stages, and others may involve spending more time in one stage than the other. Let’s take a closer look at each stage.
Stage 1: Design
Engineers and product development teams submit blueprints and digital files for computer-aided design (CAD) programming and rapid prototyping. This step includes design troubleshooting and last-minute adjustments for complex geometries, material changes, and other concerns.
Stage 2: Material Selection
This stage is crucial because material properties can strongly affect product outcomes. Teams collaborate using CAD software and rapid prototyping (RP) data to streamline productivity and reduce waste. Then they choose the appropriate sheet metal to consistently manufacture high quality end-use products.
Stage 3: Cutting and Shaping
The third stage of custom metal fabrication involves precision metal cutting and shaping. Experts use tailored tools and heavy-duty machinery to create intricate designs using various metals and alloys. Teams can choose laser cutting, stamping, spinning, milling, and other CNC machining processes to get the job done.
Stage 4: Welding
Welding is a crucial step in the custom metal fabrication process, where welders use high heat to join sheet metal according to design specifications. However, the choice of appropriate metals is essential because some materials may be more challenging to weld than others. It's important to consult with your fabrication team to determine the best welding approach for your products and prepare them for the final stages accordingly.
Stage 5: Finishing
Custom metal finishing is essential because it readies metal products for assembly and distribution. This stage can involve powder coating, sandblasting, electroplating, passivation, and more. Teams must also ensure adherence to industry standards during this phase to eliminate scrap and reduce waste.
Stage 6: Assembly
Assembly is the final stage of custom metal fabrication. It consists of putting together the cut sheet metal parts and the welded, finished pieces to create a functional product. Different projects will have different assembly requirements, so talk to your team to ensure precision and practicality.
Custom Metal Fabrication Tools and Equipment
We’re moving from concept to creation on the journey of custom metal fabrication, but what machines are necessary for the process? The answer depends on the fabrication shop and what services they can offer. Generally, teams use CNC machines, laser cutters, and plasma cutters to complete orders. Advanced facilities can also utilize 3D printing and additive manufacturing machines for bespoke assignments.
The Artistic Side of Custom Metal Fabrication
Custom metal fabrication allows artists to creatively explore and innovate without unnecessary steps. Artistic cutting and shaping metal components require creativity and attention to detail. It’s an exciting process that can produce items such as:
- Metal sculptures
- Decorative furniture
- Ornamental gates
- Ornate railings
- Metal jewelry
- Architectural metalwork
- Automotive customization
The list doesn’t stop there! Work with an expert to explore your options for creating top quality fabricated metal items.
Why Collaboration Matters in Metal Fabrication
When designers, fabricators, and clients collaborate on fabrication services, they can get more done in less time and with less waste. Working together allows for optimal efficiency, productivity, and affordability. It also helps ensure the final product is up to your high standards in multiple areas:
- Durability – Concerted efforts catch more flaws during fabrication and assembly.
- Flexibility – Diverse teams can troubleshoot efficiently and help shops adapt easily to design tweaks.
- Aesthetics – Collaboration in the custom metal fabrication process can help you achieve the appearance you want in end-use products.
Finding a skilled and experienced fabricator is crucial to minimize the risk of error and promote innovation. Custom metal components require a complex metal fabrication process that involves multiple variables. Choosing an experienced, collaborative sheet metal fabricator to bring your projects from concept to creation will help you get the outcome you want as cost effectively as possible.
To learn more about the metal fabrication process, subscribe to the KRYTON Metals blog and talk to an expert today.