When a workshop offers light metal fabrication services, the work generally focuses on the mechanical operations that cut, shape, and assemble different types of metal. Steel or copper, aluminium or bronze, as long it is workable, the raw alloy is likely being processed by some fabrication facility in accordance with a clients’ wishes. The dictionary definition for fabrication talks about building and assembling metal structures, so let’s start there, shall we?
Fabrication Building Blocks
This is an assembly discipline, but there’s also alloy processing involved. Logically, the raw metal has been provided, perhaps as sheets or tubes. That metallic resource has been heat treated and processed but has yet to be built into the desired product. Light metal fabrication work provides this service. The sheets are formed by cutting them or rolling their thin plates. Extruded parts are also cut, bent, and otherwise processed. The goal is to add (or subtract) sections of the base metal until a desired geometrical profile is formed.
Assembling the Processed Workpieces
The building of a processed structure is almost complete. All the finished pieces are in place. They’re cut to size and bent according to the design specs. Holes have been punched or drilled, and the surface finish has been applied. This is the moment that all the parts come together. Perhaps some of those drilled openings are threaded, so a bolt and nut are all that’s required to fasten two pieces together. But what about the sections of the assembling product that require permanent fastenings? There are lockable nuts for this job and rivets as well, but we’re referring to a discipline that’s even more enduring. This is a domain where welding technology takes over. The metal-centric joining process exists solely to heat the immutable substance, to make the hard alloy melt so that it can be joined (welded) near seamlessly to another metal part.
Recruiting the Tools
This is no ordinary workshop. It’s not a back garage bench with a few manually operated power tools. Instead, this is a large section of floorspace that hosts huge tabletop-sized tools. Hydraulic bench presses work ceaselessly on that floor, as do metre-high tube and sheet benders. In effect, any metal shape is possible when these tools are properly employed.
A storehouse is loaded up with shelves full of extruded metal rods and tubes. The next half of the building has shelves that creak under the weight of stainless steel or aluminium sheets. The resources are here, or perhaps they’re on their way from a manufacturing centre, as requisitioned by a project leader. Paired with a product worksheet, the light metal fabrication services go to work. They cut and shape the parts, assemble those discrete elements, and weld them in place.