What are the 4 Step Process in Metal Fabrication?
Metal fabrication is the process of creating structures from unprocessed materials by processes like cutting, bending, and assembling. Hand tools, Bolts, nuts, cutlery, metal windows, doors, cans, car parts are some examples of products that are made with metal fabrication. Apart from this, metal fabrication can also produce large runs of personalized fabricated metal goods which usually include the design and fabrication of customized metal parts to fit a customer needs like car parts, customized valves etc are some examples of this type of project. It is mainly believed a value-added process as it comprises of putting collectively actual products or structures from raw metal material. It is the process of producing sheet metal and further flat metals to make it adapt to specific shapes. Metal fabrication in Brisbane is very critical part of the manufacturing process. Most metal fabrication works with sheet metal, which can be up to .25 inches thick. Fabricators transform this sheet metal into products. We at ACCU GROUP cut, stamp, fold metal to create the completed part. Metal fabricators usually work in both fabrication shops and machine shops that mainly focus on everything from metal formulation to fabrication. The metal fabricators are highly skilled professionals, trained to cut and control metal with a surgeon’s accuracy to the required shape. Metal fabrication process requires a lot of strategy and planning before starting with the actual work. The process involved is much more than just taking drill moments to sheet metal — there is engineering, bidding, back-and-forth communication with the client, adjustments, material sourcing and material ordering. Metal fabrication usually plays a massive role in generating parts that are required in mass. The mass production of products like pipes, pans, screws, cans, cutlery, pipes and pans all fall into this category. These products tend to have constant requirements and a larger tolerance for error. This means that the parts can be different in small ways from the earliest design but still function as expected.
The Metal fabrication processes may vary in each shop, but normally, every sheet metal fabrication project follows four conventional steps. These include cutting, bending, assembling, and finishing. Every sheet metal fabrication process begins with the cutting of an empty shape from the sheet. This is pursued by twisting to give the flat raw material a third dimension. The next step is that the processed parts will be assembled in different ways. The last step is to give the product a protective and appealing finishing as desired. Sheet metal’s resourcefulness makes it the perfect solution for many distinct projects.
Now, let us take a more detailed look at each of these important steps.
- Cutting: The first step in the sheet metal fabrication process is cut down the metal to a specific shape and size where sheets of metal are split up into different sections. In many applications, the metal being cut is newly made, and has yet to be moulded into anything.
Whereas in some other applications, pre-shaped metals like bars and evaluated panels are used for cutting. There are two ways of cutting a metal sheet:
- Shearing is one of the ways for cutting a larger sheet into smaller and more manageable size. The shearing machine has a long blade just like a giant pair of scissors that makes a straight cut into the sheet.
- Punching is the other way of producing a complex shape in sheet metals. Punching is a process that put holes in a sheet, by gnawing on a turret punch, we can punch out a complex form.
- Laser cutting is also one of the ways for cutting out more intricate and more complex shape with the help of laser.
The precision of both lasers and punching ways typically produce conclusions that do not require a second pass. On the other hand, Shearing, may need some more work to prepare the metal for the second step.
- Bending: Followed by cutting, the next step is steel metal bending which is usually done by a press brake on cut sheet metal. The person who is operating the machine positions the sheet and adjust it above the vee-shaped channel that brings down the bending tool which pushes the sheet into the vee and the sides move up as the bend is formed. The one of the main challenges in bending is managing spring back which is the way when the metal tries to return to its original shape which is usually flat. This can be alleviated by over-bending, but only a competent press brake operator can achieve a bend that takes shape this way. Also, the grain of the metal can affect the way they bend, and cracking can occur if the metal heats up while in the press brake.
- Assembly: As the name explains, after cutting and bending various pieces into shape during this step all the pieces are formed together by different methods according to the requirement like by riveting, welding, screwing. Putting the pieces together starts with fit-up. Each piece of the assembly is held in position and with clamps or fixturing as appropriate. Then tack welds are made to hold everything together. Only then are the long welds made that join the pieces together. Not every customer or job needs welding. Depending on the final application, riveting, screwing, or bonding might be more appropriate. The advantage is that if a part gets damaged it is easier to replace.
- Finishing: Once the bits have been joined, various methods are used to clean up the project so, Final step in metal fabrication process is finishing while this step is not always required for all the sheet metal fabrications, only some of the product require to some amount of finishing. The purpose of these tasks is typically cosmetic or to provide a form of corrosion protection. This is done to protect the result from rust and give it the desired appearance.
Sheet metal fabrication requires great skill from the workers of the fabricating machines, as well as maintenance of high requirements by supervisors.
Many companies outsource the metal fabrication from different outsourcing companies like ACCU GROUP all over the Brisbane, Australia, and the rest of the world. We at ACCU GROUP use several techniques to shape sheet metal into a part or good. The work between the different companies may vary widely, from building material to medical work to computers, but the beginning phases can look similar across the different industries.