Steel fabrication work: what type of jobs can you do?
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At Customised Sheet Metal, we often get asked how the process of steel fabrication works and how our team are able to create such a variety of products. Unfortunately, it’s not a straightforward answer. Steel fabrication encompasses a variety of roles, all of which play a vital part in creating sheet metal products.
So, what exactly are the roles available in steel fabrication, and what do they involve? Well, we’ve outlined a few of the main roles involved in the sheet metal fabrication process to give you a deeper insight – keep reading to find out more.
In this blog, you’ll find everything you need to know about the different jobs you can do within steel fabrication.
Types of steel fabrication roles:
A metal fabricator is required to cut, bend, form, and assemble metal into a desired shape. Using a variety of tools, a fabricator will read engineering drawings and plans to bring designs to life.
As we’ve already mentioned, metal fabrication is extremely varied, meaning that a fabricator could be required to produce a variety of products. Ranging from architectural pieces designed to be aesthetically pleasing, to metal components for industrial or warehousing use – a metal fabricator can create an assortment of items.
Note: Sometimes, the role of ‘metal fabricator’ is used to describe a variety of roles within steel fabrication. For example, a fabricator might also describe a machinist or welder, but these roles require a particular skillset – keep reading to find out more about them.
The machinist (as you can probably work out from the name) solely operates the machinery that cuts and shapes the metal, such as a milling machine or lathe. Their role involves programming the machine with the product that needs to be created based on drawings from an engineer. This includes the use of computer numerical-controlled (CNC) machines.
CNC machining is part of computer-aided design and manufacturing processes, and is often used to create components with complex and intricate geometry. An efficient machinist must understand how the CNC machine is programmed, and how they can efficiently maximize the volume of work that is produced.
At CSM, we use a Haas VM-6 mould maker machining centre is a 5-axis machine. The machine has three linear axes (X, Y and Z) and two rotational axes (A and B) that work together to achieve complex surface machining.
Welding is probably one of the most well-known processes in sheet metal fabrication. Being a successful welder requires dexterity, precision, attention to detail and a high level of knowledge on a variety of metals. Ultimately, they are responsible for joining two pieces of metal together with the use of heat, electricity or another metal component. Part of the process also involves preparing metal for welding and carrying out a post-weld clean of the finished product and work area.
There are different types of welding jobs available as there are many different types of welding. The most popular methods in steel fabrication include:
MIG (metal inert gas) welding – this involves two different types of welding; bare wire or FCAW (Flux Core Arc Welding). Bare wire is used to join two thin pieces of metal, and flux core does not require a gas supply and therefore can be used outdoors. MIG welding is one of the easier types of welding.
TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding – also known as gas tungsten arc welding – joins metals by heating them with a TIG torch. It involves one hand feeding the rod whilst the other holds a TIG torch. TIG welding is extremely versatile and can be used to weld most conventional metals including steel, nickel alloys, aluminium, copper alloys, cobalt and titanium, but is also one of the more difficult welding processes.
Stick welding – sometimes known as arc welding – is probably the most old-fashioned way to weld metal, but it’s still used today. It’s harder to master than MIG welding and requires a stick electrode welding rod – it does not need gas and gives better mechanical properties.
A CAD (computer-aided design) engineer is responsible for turning initial thoughts, sketches and concepts into drawings the rest of the team can use to create the desired product. At CSM, our draftsmen use the latest software to adapt preliminary designs and plans into technical drawings ready for production. Using CAD applications, we produce a 3D mechanical simulation of the work to see how the final construction will come together.
An estimator is similar to a project manager; they are required to identify what is required to complete each product, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Usually, this person has a lot of experience in the sheet metal fabrication industry.
So, there you have it – an overview of the most prevalent roles in the steel fabrication industry. Hopefully this has given you more of an insight into how the roles work together and what is required at each stage of the fabrication process.
For more information on the process, don’t forget to check out our blogs;
If you have a sheet metal project in mind, get in touch with our team today. Our team will work with you to understand your requirements and provide you with a product that is long lasting and fit for purpose.