Heavily processed metals have become the foundation of much of the world’s infrastructure. From high rising skyscrapers and footbridges to large ships and automobiles, metals are vitally essential products in every industry. However, there is one issue when it comes to the production of metal products. The processes involved can be somehow confusing. For instance, many people think that metal fabrication and welding refer to the same thing. Although welding is used in the metal fabrication process, it is in itself, not metal fabricating. We might want to believe that only those with limited knowledge think so, you’ll be surprised to hear even seasoned experts with several years of experience in the manufacturing industries using the two terms interchangeably. While metal fabrication and welding are useful processes that help convert metals into the desired product, they are not synonymous. Let’s delve deeper and unearth the differences.

What is Fabrication Welding?

In a nutshell, metal fabrication represents the entire process of transforming metals into a complete product but in our culture refers specifically to working sheets of metals into finished parts.  Welding, on the other hand, is one of the possible steps in the fabrication process. Fabrication welding is a process used in the steps of building a project out of metal, from layout and design to shaping, joining and finishing. Welding itself is a single operation in the fabrication process, and it involves the joining of two pieces of metals permanently together through thermally melting the materials together.  Fabrication welding helps convert metals such as aluminum, steel, and other ferrous and non-ferrous into solid required products of different sizes and shapes for use in other functions.

The Difference Between Metal Fabrication and Welding

The process

As mentioned earlier, metal fabrication and welding follow two different processes. Fabricating a component starts with the end goal in mind.  It follows a logical and linear progression from the beginning to the end. The metal fabrication process involves several operations (among them welding) that are geared towards the creation of a product that has been planned and accounted for. However, the number of activities that take place during metal fabrication depends on the magnitude of the project. Some of the typical operations that are performed during this process include design and layout, cutting, welding, bending, and shaping.

On the other hand, welding involves the joining of metal-based materials together using specialized equipment or tools. Although it is one of the operations involved in metal fabrication, it is a complex function that needs lots of training and practice to master. There are various welding processes in the fabrication welding industry. They include Shielded Metal Arc welding (SMAW), Oxy-acetylene welding (OA), Tungsten inert gas welding (TIG), and Gas metal arc welding (MIG).

Tools Used 

The complexity of metal fabrication and welding means that the tools and machines used in each process are equally specialized and sophisticated. And although they overlap at some point since welding a part of metal fabrication, they may have some subtle differences. 

For starters, welders utilize tools and pieces of equipment that facilitate the joining of two metal components. On the other hand, fabricators use tools and machines that help cut, bend, and shape metals.

 Additionally, while welders rely on heat to perform their respective tasks, this is not the same case for fabricators as they also do a lot of dry bending and cold rolling. Some of the tools used in metal fabrication and welding shops include abrasives, benders, consumable electrodes, arc welders, chipping hammers, welding clamps. You may also find some specialized fabrication machinery such as waterjets, laser systems, shears, press brakes, and plasma systems, among others. 

Choosing the Right Tool for Metal Fabrication

Since several metalworking processes may not be necessary for every metal fabrication job, the type of tool or machine you need in a workshop will depend on the unique needs of your project. If you specialize in the fabrication of sophisticated items such as those used in automobiles, building, and military applications, you will need bigger and more versed machines. These include those that can perform unique operations such as riveting, bolting, drilling, stamping, and turret punching.

You also need to consider things like your workforce’s skill set, financial capability, and type of fabrication job. For example, stainless steel fabrication welding requires the use of specialized machines that can dissipate heat and reduce vibration. Since the lack of proper tools can lead to design and quality issues, you must take your time when choosing the best fabrication welding equipment for your shop.

At Southern Fabricating Machinery Sales we staff experts in Fabricating Machinery and can assist you in making the right  choice for your application and budget. Call us at 813-444-4555 today or visit the Contact Us page to send your application to our turning experts.

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