How Much Weight Can 1 4 Inch Steel Plate Hold Metal Fabrication Processes and Equipment for Production of High Performance Products

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Metal Fabrication Processes and Equipment for Production of High Performance Products

Metal fabrication refers to the process of combined operations used to make something out of metal. The equipment used to perform the operations are: metal shears, laser cutters, water jets, turret punches, machining centers, press brakes, rollers and welding machines. The most commonly used types of metals are carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Most metal fabricators purchase metal in the form of sheet, bar, and tube to begin the manufacturing process.

Sheet metal is used as a starting point for a very large selection of metal products and can be purchased in a number of different gauges or thicknesses. When the thickness of the plate is 3/16″ or greater, it is referred to as “plate”. Plates are manufactured into thousands of different types of items such as industrial machinery, augers, conveyors, electronic enclosures, brackets, machine components, appliances, food processing equipment, to name just a few.

The first process of sheet metal fabrication is often to either cut, laser cut, or punch shapes into it. The equipment used to perform these steps is a pair of metal scissors, a laser, and a turret. Sometimes all three of these operations can be used while the metal is still in a flat form. Once the basic flat shape is achieved, the metal goes to the press brake machines to make the bends. This process is called shaping. Dies of a variety of shapes are used in the press brake to make a bend or series of bends to form the metal as indicated on the prints. At this point, some projects may be finished and can then be sent to its final use, but often it goes to the welding tables next.

Welding is a true art in itself. It is the job of the welder to take a stack of cut and shaped shapes, read the prints, and then weld the pieces of metal together into the final product. There are a multitude of welding techniques that can be used and it is important for the welder to use the appropriate procedure to get a good penetration weld that will not fail. Welders need to know how to handle the expansion and contraction of metal as it is heated during the welding process and then cooled. Many metal fabrications, especially machine parts, have tight tolerances that must be met. Fixtures are widely used by welders to help them quickly put the pieces together and hold them in place while welding them together.

Metal pipe and barstock is another common item purchased from metal fabricators. Railings and machine frames are two very common places where metal pipe and rod are used. Pipes are made in square, round or rectangular shapes with a normal wall thickness of approx. 1/8″, referred to by the industry as 10 or 11 gauge or schedule 40 pipe. The reason metal pipe is commonly used is because it provides a lot of strength with less metal than solid bar. Large pipe with a diameter of 2-4 inches is used to manufacture guardrails that are installed along highway bridges where a very strong guardrail is needed if a vehicle crashes into it.Using tube as opposed to solid bar means less weight and lower cost, both of which are desirable to the end user of metal fabrication. However, there are still many cases where solid bar is preferred. One case would be the shaft of a screw conveyor. There is extreme pressure applied by a motor to turn the screw and solid metal is necessary for the successful operation of the screw conveyor. Many handrails are also made of bar material or made of a combination of bar and tube. Bar is used on applications where the railing does not need to be super strong and thinner bars are desired. A half to 1 t omme rod is widely used for railings in both residential and commercial purposes. Metal railings, when made from galvanized, painted or stainless steel fabrication, can be expected to last a lifetime with little or no maintenance.

Strength, low to no maintenance. Long lasting. That’s the beauty of metal. This is why so many products are made with metal. Metal fabricators have the machinery and knowledge of how to take base metals that are smelted and made by steel mills and turn them into very useful products that can last a lifetime.

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