Welding and Fabrication – Processes for Machines and Structures
Welding and fabrication are synonymous to the metal industry. These mechanical processes require precision and an eye for detail including a steady hand for a quality weld. Welding is considered to one of the most reliable methods of joining materials together while fabrication is the process of understanding the blueprint, layout, cutting and the preparation of the materials for assembly. Both welding and fabrication operations are critical in the metal works and construction industries where there is a requirement for welded steel structures. Production work on boilers, metal products, storage tanks, ships and other structural components require these applications.
Tools used in the process of metal fabrication
- Cutting is done by numerical control cutter (CNC) using sawing, shearing or chiseling through laser, mill bits, torching or water jets. Torching requires handheld tools like oxy-fuel torches or plasma torches. When torching is used in cutting, it requires little efforts even when there is a need to cut large sections. The common way of cutting metal is referred to as shearing using special band saws with sharpened blades and a feed mechanism to come up with an even cutting.
- Bending is a process where manual or powered hammering is done through press brakes and other similar tools. Modern fabricating makes use of the CNC controlled press brakes with off-line software programming to make the job of bending easier and more efficient.
- Assembling which is the joining of pieces is done through welding, binding with adhesives, riveting, threaded fasteners or through more bending. This manufacturing process most often requires human labor although the system can be automated. The usual materials used in fabrication are structural steel and sheet metal with the cut pieces joined through welding wire, flux or fasteners.
- Fabrication tends to overlap with other machine shop processes though it generally concentrates on the process of metal preparation and assembly before welding
- There are many different jobs where welding and fabrication is involved like the boilermakers who specialize in the installation and maintenance of boilers for both domestic and commercial purposes.
- Iron works or steel erectors also engage in fabrication for structural work. As most often the case, fabrication is done in the shops and the product is delivered to the construction site by means of trucks, rails or barge.
- Machine shops are largely involved in welding and fabrication although the majority of their jobs encompass machining of parts or machine tools. These welding and fabrication shops conjointly work for contractors and they typically deal with the smaller parts as required for structural frames for buildings. Typically, a fabrication shop will bid on a project with the engineering drawings as their basis. If they win the bidding process, they get the contract that tends to involve millions of dollars and at the same time provide employment to those with the skills and experience in welding and fabrication. Many projects involve these processes and there is never a dearth for employment due to the rapid growth in industries requiring metal and steel.
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