Fabrication is an integral part of manufacturing, where raw materials are transformed into functioning products. The fabrication process itself is versatile, allowing for adaptability and customization to meet various production and industrial requirements.
Let us start by understanding what is fabrication. Fabrication is the process of transforming raw metal materials into finished or semi-finished products. Cutting, shaping, or molding metal are just some of the fabrication processes used in the industry. It can be carried out either on-site or in specialized workshops equipped with advanced machines and tools.
The manufacturing sector is expected to reach 1 trillion USD in revenue by 2025, which means the demand for skilled fabricators will increase exponentially. In this blog, we delve into the commonly used fabrication processes that have been a driving force in the manufacturing industry.
1. Cutting process
|Mechanical||Machining, sawing, metal shearing, punching, and drilling|
|Thermal||Oxygen cutting, spark erosion, laser cutting, and plasma|
|Hydraulic||Water and abrasive water jet cutting|
The cutting process is a fabrication technique where workpieces are cut into small pieces of the required shape and size. Cutting is a crucial step in the fabrication process because it allows for the precise cutting of material, removing waste material, preparing material for weld joints, and removing defects.
Common cutting techniques used in metal fabrication are sawing, milling, turning, and drilling. Fabrication workshops use cutting tools such as blades, drills, and bits to get the desired shape. In case you require on-site cutting you can opt for gas cutting.
Fabricators use different machines for cutting, such as computer numerically controlled machines (CNC), hand-held tools, power tools, or high-tech machinery. Advanced cutting techniques include lasers, plasma arc cutting, power scissors, and waterjets.
When selecting a cutting method, it is important to consider feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and specific requirements. The choice of equipment will depend on factors like the material of construction, thickness, job complexity, production volume, and precision required.
2. Forming processes
|Forming Processes||Description||Industry used|
|Rolling||Material is passed through two or more rolls.||Automobile, Construction, Energy, Machinery, Packing|
|Extrusion||A machine pushes the material through an orifice.||Plastic industry, Cermaic manufacturing, Construction, Metalworking|
|Die Forming||Press stamps the workpiece around or onto a die||Metalworks, plastic, ceramic, automotive, aerospace|
|Forging||Localized compressive forces shape the workpiece||Metalworks, automative, and aerospace|
Forming is a fabrication process that uses mechanical forces to deform objects. No material is added or removed during the forming process. It involves applying the proper stresses, such as compression, shear, and tension, to materials (mainly metals), causing them to deform physically, and obtaining the desired forms and sizes.
Some forming processes include:
Rolling is the process of passing a metal sheet through two or more rollers. The rollers move in the opposite direction to reduce the thickness of the workpiece through compression. Rolling is commonly used in the manufacturing industry to produce a variety of metal products, including sheets, plates, bars, and rods. It is a versatile process that can be used to produce a wide range of materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, and nickel. Rolling is a cost-effective process that can produce high-quality products with a consistent thickness and shape. It is also a relatively energy-efficient process, which makes it a sustainable manufacturing option.
Extrusion is the process of forcing a workpiece (either hot or cold) through a die. The extruded metal acquires the die shape as it moves through the cavity. Extrudate refers to the product that comes out of the die. The metal flows through the die opening sometimes with the help of a RAM. Fabricators use compressive and shear stresses to shape the metal, and elevated temperatures ensure it does not become brittle. Some commonly extruded materials include aluminum, steel, magnesium, and lead. Non-metals like plastics and ceramics are extruded extensively. Extrusion is used in the production of pipes, tubes, frames, and profiles.
2.3. Die Forming
Die-forming is the process of stamping the material with a press. The workpiece (usually metal sheets) is permanently reshaped around on onto a die through plastic deformation. It is subject to compressive forces to take the shape of the die. Fabricators use mechanical or hydraulic presses depending on the scale and complexity of the process.
Forging uses compressive forces to shape and deform metals at high temperatures (600-1250 oC) to make the metal stronger and more durable. Common metals used in forging include alloy steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, and carbon steel. The high temperatures in forging make the metal more malleable, and heavy hammers or presses create extreme pressure. This force causes the metal to take on the shape of the die or mold, resulting in a finished product with improved mechanical properties.
Various industries like automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, construction, and manufacturing use the forming process. The processes selected will depend on the raw material and the final product.
3. Joining processes
|Joining process||Description||Industries used|
|Welding||Process of joining two or more workpieces using either heat or pressure, or both,Sa to fuse together after cooling.||Automative, Aeronautics, Construction, Shipbuilding, Energy, Metalworking|
|Soldering||Process of joining metals using the low melting point of the filler metal.||Electronics, plumbing, jewelry making, HVAC|
|Brazing||Process of joining two or more metal objects using a filler metal.||Metal working, Automative , Aeroscpace, HVAC, Plumbing|
|Fastening||Using mechanical tools to connect two or more things.||Automotive, Aerospace, Construction, Furniture|
|Adhesive Bonding||Process of using adhesive agents (glue, epoxy, or other plastic adhesives) to join two surfaces.||Automotive, Aerospace, Construction, Electronics, Medical devices, Packaging|
The joining process is the manufacturing process of joining two or more metals permanently or temporarily linked together to form a single unit. Here are a few of the most popular joining procedures:
Welding is a fabrication process where two or more metals (sometimes thermoplastics) are fused with the application of heat, pressure, or both, forming a joint when the part cools. The welding joint is permanent and is called weldment.
Welding can broadly be divided into two categories - fusion welding and solid-state welding. Fusion welding heat is applied to melt the base metals, allowing them to join. Sometimes a filler metal is added to the molten pool to improve the strength of the bond. MIG (metal inert gas), TIG (tungsten inert gas), and oxy-fuel welding are types of fusion welding.
Solid-state welding creates a welding joint without melting the base metal. It uses pressure or a combination of heat and pressure. No filler metal is used. Welding workshops have welding machines, torches, wire feeders, protective gear, gases, and consumables. Welders are skilled professionals who have received training and certification to ensure the safety and quality of the weld. Welders need to upgrade their certifications periodically.
Soldering is a fabrication process that joins different metals together by melting solder. Solder is usually an alloy of tin and lead has a melting point of 2350 C and 350 0 C. The technician uses a soldering iron to melt the solder. A strong electrical and mechanical bond is created when the solder cools down. The bond allows the metal parts to achieve electric contact.
The electronics industry uses soldering for electrical connections. It is used in PCB fabrication. The plumbing and jewelry industries use soldering extensively.
Brazing is achieved by melting and pouring a filler metal into the joint, that has a lower melting point than the adjacent metal. Two or more metal objects are linked together. Capillary action helps to join the two metals together. The melting point of the filler metal is above 450 o C.
Fasteners are tools used to connect two or more things mechanically. Popular fasteners used are nut bolts, nails, hooks, clips, clutches, and zippers. They are used in the manufacturing, construction, and automotive sectors. The choice of fastener used will depend on factors such as the joint strength required and environmental factors.
3.5 Adhesive Bonding
Adhesive bonding is the process of using an adhesive agent to join two surfaces to create a smooth surface. The adhesive agent may be glue, epoxy, or any other plastic adhesive that adheres either by evaporation of a solvent or through curing via heat, pressure, or time.
|Drilling||Involves rotating the cutting tool (drill bit) to create circular holes in the material.||Construction, Metalworking, Woodworking, Electronics, Automotive|
|Turning||Uses a lathe machine to rotate the workpiece while the cutting tool moves linearly to remove material.||Metalworking, Woodworking, Automotive, Aerospace, Medical devices|
|Milling||Involves the use of a rotating multi-point cutting tool to remove material from the workpiece, creating the desired shape.||Metalworking, Woodworking, Automotive, Aerospace, Medical devices, Electronics, Construction|
Machining is the process of shaping metal by removing unwanted components from it. It is done manually or using CNC machines. Common machining processes used are:
Drilling uses a rotary cutting tool or drill bit to cut a hole in the material. The drill bit rotates rapidly on the workpiece, creating circular holes on the workpiece. You can drill using a handheld drill, standard machines, or CNC machines for automated and precise drilling operations. Operations that can be performed on a drilling machine include drilling, reaming, tapping, boring, counterboring, countersinking, and spot facing.
Turning uses a lathe to rotate the workpiece while the cutting tool moves linearly to remove metal along the diameter to create a cylindrical shape. You can place the cutting tool at different angles to produce different shapes. The operator can select the surface speed on CNC lathes with constant surface speed control, and the machine will automatically adjust the rpm when the cutting tool travels through the various diameters along the outside profile of the workpiece.
Milling uses a rotating multi-point cutting tool to remove material from the workpiece to get the required shape. The workpiece is fed slowly into the machine, or the tool moves across the stationary workpiece. Manufacturers generally use milling as a finishing or secondary process; we can use it from beginning to end. Face milling, plain milling, angle milling, climb milling, and form milling are a few of the several forms of milling.
Metal casting involves heating a metal to its melting point and then pouring it into a specially designed mold. Once the metal cools and solidifies, it can be refined to remove any minor flaws and enhance its surface quality.
The primary advantage of casting is its ability to produce complex shapes in a single operation. This makes it suitable for manufacturing various products in industries such as automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and computer equipment, among others.
However, casting has a drawback because the heating and cooling processes can introduce internal stresses to the metal's crystal structure. Therefore, manufacturers must carefully execute casting procedures to prevent the formation of cracks and damage to the metal.
|Type of Casting||Advantages|
|Sand Casting||Relatively inexpensive and can fabricate large components|
|Investment Casting||High degree of precision and can create thin-walled parts|
|Plastic Castings||Excellent finish and can create complex parts with thin walls.|
6. Advantages of fabrication as a service
Several fabrication companies offer fabrication services to create products and parts. They offer services like structural fabrication, custom fabrication, module fabrication, or assembly operations and work with metals like mild steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. Some of the advantages of fabrication services are:
- Customization: Fabrication services can produce customized products that meet specific requirements. Product designers get more design and functional freedom.
- Quality control: Fabrication services frequently employ strict quality control to guarantee the finished product conforms to industry standards and specifications.
- Reduce lead time: Fabrication services have more control over the production process and can frequently deliver custom items more quickly than buying pre-made products.
- Cost-saving: Fabrication can prove to be more cost-effective than buying pre-made products. This is especially true for large-scale projects, where bulk ordering can save money.
Fabrication as a service has become a popular trend with several businesses offering on-demand fabrication services. FAAS has several benefits over traditional services. One of the biggest advantages of opting for FAAS is that you have access to a variety of fabrication tools and knowledge without having to make substantial upfront investments in tools, Businesses can rely on their core competencies while outsourcing their fabrication demands.
7. How do I select the right fabricator service?
You must select the right fabrication company to fulfill your project requirements effectively. Venwiz can help you find the ideal fabricator. Venwiz’s discovery module is ideal for shortlisting fabricators based on experience, the skill r, industries served, location, and turnover. The Venwiz platform is a one-stop shop for vendor management. Some factors to consider are:
- Experience: Fabrication works have an established reputation for providing good, reliable service.
- Industries served: You must be aware of the industries that the fabrication company typically serves and whether they have expertise in your particular sector. This will ensure they understand your requirements and will be able to deliver.
- Quality standards: Ensure the company adheres to industry standards and has quality assurance plans in place. You can check their certifications and accreditations to ensure they comply with quality standards. Some of the common certifications are ASME (American Standard of Mechanical Engineers), American Welding Society and ISO 9001.
- Capabilities: Ensure the fabricator has the equipment and expertise required to complete the job. Ask them if they have handled similar projects in the past.
- Cost: Since cost is always a factor, look for a fabricator that offers competitive rates without compromising quality.
- References and reviews: It is important to evaluate their references and read what previous customers have to say about the services offered.
- Location: Consider the company’s location with respect to the project site. It may be practical to select fabrication near me.
The fabrication processes discussed in this blog are an integral part of the production process. By effectively understanding and utilizing the fabrication process, manufacturers can unlock new possibilities, streamline their processes, and deliver high-quality products. Visit Venwiz and register to look for qualified vendors for your job. - www.venwiz.com