A Guide to Custom Fabrication

Metal fabrication is economically important, as it is used to create parts for everyday life such as household appliances, electrical systems, vehicles, and computers. Although fabricated products are extremely common, few people understand the fabrication process or its benefits. Keep reading to learn more about metal fabrication, its benefits, and some common applications for fabricated products and parts.

What Is Metal Fabrication?

Simply put, metal fabrication is defined as the process by which new shapes or structures are formed from raw metal materials. To create a final product, manufacturers often use techniques such as burning, welding, cutting, forming, machining, and assembly. This process is extremely versatile and can be performed using sheet metal up to 0.25 inches thick.

Although metal fabrication often involves mass-producing a given product, it can also entail creating large runs of customized fabricated metal products. Such custom metal fabrication projects typically necessitate the design and fabrication of customized metal parts to fulfill a specific need.

The Metal Fabrication Process

A successful metal fabrication process typically involves the following steps:

Designing

custom-fabrication

Designing the desired part or product is the first step in the fabrication process. While some customers may already have a completed design, others may need to refine and test a prototype before they can continue the fabrication process. Many manufacturers use technology such as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to develop useful 3D prototypes before working with metal.

During the design phase, it is also necessary to determine what metal will be used during the fabrication process. Some of the most commonly used metals include:

  • Stainless steel
  • Hastelloy
  • Inconel
  • Monel
  • Alloy 20
  • AL6XN

Each material has its own specific benefits and drawbacks and should be selected based on the specific needs of its particular application.

Fabrication of the Part/Product

pressure-vessel

Once the design phase is completed, the fabrication process can begin. During this phase, a metal fabricator cuts and shapes the parts defined during the design stage. The specific tools used during this stage may vary depending on the needs of each project, but they often include shears, lathes, mills, and nibblers. Additionally, many manufacturers will use Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) machines to cut pieces as precisely as possible based on their specifications.

Finish and Assembly

dimple-jacketed-reactor

The final step of the fabrication process is the assembly stage, in which all fabricated parts are assembled to form the final product. To ensure that the product does not contain excess material and is functioning properly, manufacturers will typically use finishing techniques such as grinding and deburring. If desired, the product can also undergo powder coating to increase its aesthetic appeal.

The Metal Fabrication Process

A successful metal fabrication process typically involves the following steps:

  • Designing
    custom-fabrication

    Designing the desired part or product is the first step in the fabrication process. While some customers may already have a completed design, others may need to refine and test a prototype before they can continue the fabrication process. Many manufacturers use technology such as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to develop useful 3D prototypes before working with metal.

    During the design phase, it is also necessary to determine what metal will be used during the fabrication process. Some of the most commonly used metals include:

    • Stainless steel
    • Hastelloy
    • Inconel
    • Monel
    • Alloy 20
    • AL6XN

    Each material has its own specific benefits and drawbacks and should be selected based on the specific needs of its particular application.

    custom-fabrication
  • Fabrication of the Part/Product
    pressure-vessel

    Once the design phase is completed, the fabrication process can begin. During this phase, a metal fabricator cuts and shapes the parts defined during the design stage. The specific tools used during this stage may vary depending on the needs of each project, but they often include shears, lathes, mills, and nibblers. Additionally, many manufacturers will use Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) machines to cut pieces as precisely as possible based on their specifications.

    pressure-vessel
  • Finish and Assembly
    dimple-jacketed-reactor

    The final step of the fabrication process is the assembly stage, in which all fabricated parts are assembled to form the final product. To ensure that the product does not contain excess material and is functioning properly, manufacturers will typically use finishing techniques such as grinding and deburring. If desired, the product can also undergo powder coating to increase its aesthetic appeal.

    dimple-jacketed-reactor

Benefits of Metal Fabrication

Some of the benefits of metal fabrication include:

benefits-icon

Superior Strength

Metal is an ideal material for hardware such as wires, cables, and screws due to its high tensile strength. Additionally, its great compressive strength and incomparable hardness make it a strong, durable choice for heavy-duty parts and products. Metal is also easy to manipulate, making it ideal for most manufacturing processes.

benefits-icon

Heat Resistance

Metal can withstand severe increases in temperature. As long as the manufacturer has accounted for any expansion that will occur with increased temperature, exposure to additional heat will not damage a metal product or part.

benefits-icon

Versatility

Because metal can withstand a wide variety of manufacturing processes, it can be fabricated to form a vast range of metal shapes and geometries. Some of the processes used to create these shapes and structures include welding, casting, forging, deep drawing, chipping, soldering, and many more.

benefits-icon

Cost-Effectiveness

Metal is a cost-effective option for high-volume fabrication runs. Because metal fabrication shops can replicate processes and create large volumes of product for lower costs per unit, metal is less expensive than many other material options.

benefits-icon

Stronger Than Plastic

Although plastic is ideal for many uses, metal is much more durable, stronger, and more resistant to wear. Additionally, metal can better handle changes in temperature when compared to plastic.

Custom Fabrication Services At American Alloy

At American Alloy Fabricators, we specialize in custom metal fabrication using various grades of stainless steel, Monel, Inconel, Hastelloy, and more to meet our customers’ specifications. In particular, we pride ourselves on developing custom prototypes and products using various Hastelloys, which allows us to produce the highest-quality products at a competitive cost. Our craftsmanship, engineering, and industry experience help inspire confidence in our customers, who often have specific or non-standard specifications.

Although we specialize in manufacturing vessels, tanks, and reactors, we are capable of handling even the toughest custom metal fabrication projects. We can even work with you to facilitate the research and development of a custom fabricated metal part to suit your particular needs.

Contact American Alloy Today

Due to its many benefits, metal fabrication is ideal for creating products and parts for a wide variety of demanding industries at a competitive cost. If you’re interested in learning more about metal fabrication and whether it might be the right tool for your needs, American Alloy Fabricators has the experience, industry knowledge, and capabilities needed to make your design a reality. For more information about our metal fabrication services, or to get started on your next project, contact us today.