We may barely notice it, but the world we live in is a bunch of assembled metals. Walking alone makes us stumble on things made of metal: railings, fences, cars, window rails, buildings, and many more. Even the mobile phone we carry consists of metal components.
And in construction, metal fabrication is a much-needed process building. Whether it is a residential, commercial, or industrial building, metal reinforcements and parts are responsible for erecting high-rising skyscrapers, supporting bridges, railways, and even one-story residential homes.
The construction industry depends on metal properties: strength, durability, versatility, ductility, electrical, and thermal conductivity. Through metal fabrication, we can utilize these properties to their maximum capacity and become useful in many construction procedures.
What is Metal Fabrication?
Metal fabrication involves different techniques applied to modify raw metal into a new metal product. The processes include welding, machining, casting, forging, extrusion, and folding. These methods depend on the metal product intended to produce.
For construction, manufactured metals can be reinforcement bars, steel pipes, metal sheets, bolts, nuts, anchors, and metal tubings.
For the specifics, metal samples are tested with various methods, such as using tensile sample preparation equipment to measure the breaking point. If fabricators are manufacturing sheet metal, it has to undergo a fatigue test, hardness test, or hole expansion test, aside from tensile testing.
Strengthening Metal Reinforcements and Construction Assemblies
Metal fabrication makes any constructional assemblies possible.
Constructional assemblies are essential to strengthening structural systems, such as roofing, framing, and truss systems. From high-rise buildings to hospitals to residential structures, there is an applicable metal fabrication process to strengthen architecture and framework.
Applications of metal fabrication in construction
Manufacturing Steel Beams
A lot of architecture depends on metal beams. The usual steel beams used are I-beam, T-beam, and H-beam. For a fabricator to create steel beams, he would have to understand the complexity of the blueprint and engineering illustrations. Fabricating steel beams depend on it, and they cut and drill them with accuracy and precision, so it serves their purpose as part of the structural framework.
Steel Ladder Fabrication
If you have seen steel ladders on construction sites, you probably think of ordinary steel welded together so workers can access different parts of a building or structure. Before fabricating these ladders, fabricators design them using computer-aided design software and consider a lot of things such as steel type, dimensions, guards, treads, or handrails. What’s great about metal fabrication is it enables the engineering of custom specifications, especially for the ladders of high-sky buildings.
Steel Trusses Fabrication
Steel trusses undergo a much more complicated fabrication process. It undergoes three fabrication methods. The first method is cutting the metal with high-tech cutting tools such as plasma cutters. Next, fabricators operate a press baker to press the metal to form the metal into a specific shape, size, or thickness. And then fabricators weld them together. As always, metal fabrication engineers these trusses according to design and functionality.
Manufacturing of Steel Reinforcements
Reinforcement fabrication is assembling steel bars into a cage or mat. Steel reinforcements strengthen masonry structures such as concrete.
The process involves cutting, decoiling, and bending rebars before erecting them to hold concrete. Many steel reinforcements support different architectural structures, and fabricating them could fit into various structural forms.
Metal Parts and Components Achieve Specific Properties
Metal fabrication can adjust mechanical properties to needed specifications. It depends on the use and outside forces that may affect its performance. These mechanical properties are:
- Fatigue Resistance
- Ductility and malleability
Metals should undergo rigorous testing so fabricators can achieve the needed amount of hardness, fatigue resistance, toughness, ductility, or strength. For example, you use a tensile sample preparation machine to conduct a destructive method to test a metal’s tensile or yield strength.
In-house tensile sample preparation is important for quality assurance, especially for structural applications.
For example, if a metal fabricator would have to create bolts for joining structural elements, a Grade 9 bolt can be your starting point since it can break up to 180,000 psi. Additionally, you also have to consider the material used for the fastener.
For structural steel, you are ideally looking for a yield strength of more than 35,000 psi if it’s load-bearing. For non-load-bearing metal, yield strength should start at 33,000 psi. Nevertheless, metal fabricators should also consider if the structural metal would permanently bend or move in its application. These measurements would be no hassle with a tensile test sample preparation equipment as it measures both.
Moreover, metal fabrication provides more room to engineer the specifications of the metal needed for your project and find a way to source the right material to produce.
Production of Different Types and Custom Fixings and Fasteners
We have been talking about fabricated metals for structural applications. Let us discuss the metal fabrication of fasteners.
Connectors or fasteners are also integral metal components in construction. Anchor bolts, rock bolts, hex bolts, nuts, washers, and screws are specially fabricated metal components in the construction industry.
The processes of manufacturing metal fasteners start with cold forging, forming the bolt head, threading, heat treatment, and surface treatment.
With complex head requirements, thread requirements, or load requirements, standard fixings will not be enough.
Good thing that metal fabricators can produce them according to weight capacity, materials needed, location, and environmental factors, such as temperature and exposure to water and wind. Fabricators only need the drawing of custom fasteners to know their specifics.
The earliest trace of metal fabrication is a pendant made of copper found in Iraq. Its fabrication dates back to 8700 BC.
Producing Metal Parts For Other Building Systems
Building not only involves structures. There are also systems in construction that use metal fabrication.
- Plumbing and drainage system
- Insulation and HVAC system
These systems use specific materials and metal fabrication methods. Fabricating pipes involves cutting, bending, beveling, and welding. These pipes compose drainage and plumbing systems, and they need different materials.
Likewise, sheet metals and claddings for thermal insulation systems require specific fabrication of metal.
These can be different systems, but they are part of building structures. These metals used for ductwork or insulation usually undergo cutting, forming, or bending. And the most significant process is testing the materials to ensure they can withstand specific temperatures or conditions.
We cannot picture a world without metal fabrication. It is a century-old practice, and the best part is we can continuously develop new technologies to enhance the processes.
Because of metal fabrication, we can access reliable materials for different functions, especially if used for places we usually walk on.
Samantha Rogers, Technical Writer
“Samantha is experienced in the automotive and plastics industries and the in-depth analysis of their mechanical properties. She is knowledgeable about managing, instructing, and maintaining high levels of standards in a quality control facility.”
*This article is the work of the guest author shown above. The guest author is solely responsible for the accuracy and the legality of their content. The content of the article and the views expressed therein are solely those of this author and do not reflect the views of Matmatch or of any present or past employers, academic institutions, professional societies, or organizations the author is currently or was previously affiliated with.
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