Steel Fabrication

Steel fabrication plays a massive part in our everyday lives; without it, many of the items we take for granted would not be available to us. Everything from cars to kitchen sinks are products of steel being fabricated as are the bridges we cross every day and many of the pieces of modern art that decorate the UK’s city centres.

There are different methods that make up the process involved in steel fabrication and the fact that there are over 3,000 different types of steel make the processes interesting work.

What is involved with steel fabrication?

Steel and metal fabrication takes place in a fabrication shop; this is a place in which man works alongside machinery to produce structures and projects based on engineered drawings.

The steel used is created by either the use of raw materials which are heated up, melted down and mixed into steel or using an electric arc furnace (EAF) which involves melting recycled steel in a furnace. The former is the most popular method and contributes to around 60% of all fabrication projects.

The three main processes of involved in the fabrication of steel are:

  • Cutting and burning
  • Forming
  • Welding

Cutting and burning

The size of projects which need fabricated steel will differ dramatically and steel will need cutting to size, different methods are available to complete this process.

The most commonly used process for cutting steel is shearing; this is used particularly on mid and stainless steel. Shearing is used to cut straight lines on flat metal stock. Two blades are used in shearing: an upper blade and a lower blade. The metal needed to be cut is placed in between the blades which are forced to pass each other with a predetermined space between them.

Shearing can be used on sheets, bars, plates, strips and angle stock and the method works well for cutting lengths and producing different shapes of steel.

Laser cutting is a modern and popular method of cutting thin steel sheets such as stainless steel. This is done by a robotic laser machine which uses high energy to cut the steel.

Forming of steel

The forming part of steel fabrication is done most commonly by the use of brake presses. A brake press is able to bend steel sheets and plates. The cut piece of steel is placed into a press; from there a v-shaped die is used to bend the steel into the shape and angle.

Rolling machines are used in the formation of round steel sections. Wheel machines are also known as the English wheel and are commonly used in the production of cars.

Welding of steel

Arguably the most important part of steel fabrication is welding. Once the parts have been cut and formed it is up to the welder to ensure that the parts are assembled to the specifications of the engineered drawings. This will involve different details of welding. Steel is generally tack welded and then checked for accuracy although many times precautions are needed to prevent the weld from warping due to heat. Precautions may involve using fewer welds or staggered welding.




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