A Complete Introduction to Metal Fabrication

introduction to metal fabricationNeed an introduction to metal fabrication? Here at Cadet Steel in Denver, we know that metal fabrication is not on everyone’s mind all the time like it is for us. If you look around, there are so many aspects of our everyday life that are possible because of metal fabrication.

From tiny objects like paperclips to large machinery like airplanes, metal fabrication is used in so many items that people never give it a second thought. Finished products to all the tiny parts and components that go into those finished products, so much is constructed with the help and expertise of metal fabrication shops nationwide.

To start your introduction to metal fabrication, let’s look at commonly used terms and processes.

In metal fabrication, metals and alloys are drilled, bent, punched, cut, and worked into new forms. Fabricators use a number of different processes, such as heat treating, welding, adhesive joining, stamping, rolling, brazing, soldering, tumbling, polishing, buffing, and honing, to produce the desired end product. There are so many ways to manipulate raw materials that you can create just about anything with metal fabrication.


Metal fabrication is required in so many industries. Without metal fabrication, some industries wouldn’t even exist. Here are some of the industries which require metal fabrication:

  • Auto
  • Aerospace
  • Rail
  • Food and Beverage
  • Construction
  • Chemical and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Medicine and Health Care
  • Utilities
  • Waste Management

These are only a few of the numerous industries that rely on metal fabrication for their day-to-day operations.

What is Metal Fabrication?

The basic answer is to say that it’s a process that involves shaping and joining metals together. Of course, there is so much more that goes into getting from point A to point B. This is just the short answer to include in this introduction to metal fabrication.

As we said, there are so many methods available to achieve the desired product in metal fabrication. These processes have evolved to help achieve some of the complicated pieces needed for different industries over the years. Each process is often part of one of the two main categories: the removal process or the deformation process.

The Removal Process

Removing some of the material from a larger piece is one of the main ways metal fabrication is achieved. Different removal processes create different results. For your introduction to metal stamping, here are some examples of the removal process.

  • Cutting metal: Frequently, this is the first method a fabricator may use. Cutting metal can be done with aviation snips, which is one of the more manual ways to cut metal. Metal can also be cut with less effort and more efficiently with power-scissors.

If larger amounts of material need to be cut, a metal fabricator may use laser technology or mechanical saw blades to get the work done. Lasers can be particularly effective when cutting stainless steel, titanium, carbon steel, or metals like copper or aluminum.

  • Machining: Sometimes metal is removed using a cutting machine that has a rotating drill. The range of motion available to do this can vary. Fabricators also frequently use lathes to remove material from sheet metal.
  • Punching: When cut-outs of various shapes are needed, punching can come in handy. A punch-and-die tool works a lot like a large pair of scissors. This tool uses pressure to make the shape in the material and remove the scrap or slug. This method can create a variety of sizes and shapes, but most often the punched holes are geometric shapes, such as circles, rectangles, and squares.
  • Blanking: If the punched out piece needs to be used, blanking is often the method involved. Blanking often is used to create multiples of the same piece from a larger sheet of metal. Examples of pieces created by blanking include watch components, jewelry, and clock gears.
  • Stamping: This procedure is very similar to punching, but the material is not cut or removed. Instead, the metal becomes raised in a particular shape and the material remains whole.
  • Shearing: Generally, two tools are combined together to make one long cut on the sheet of metal. Often one tool is placed above and the other below to produce the slice.
  • Nibbling: This process is often used when elaborate shapes are needed. Creating a number of overlapping slits or notches in the material cuts contours and helps create more difficult shapes. A variety of sizes and shapes are used to nibble material and minimize some of the waste when round punches are used.
  • Milling: When fabricators need a shape but don’t need a deep hole, they may use milling to achieve this. This may be part of the shaping to ultimately create a 3-D piece.

Metal Deformation

These processes are the other major grouping used when providing an introduction to metal fabrication. Deformation is used to create 3-D shapes, for example. Deformation alters the material instead of removing it. Below are some of the ways fabricators deform pieces of material.

  • Bending: When components need to be bent, fabricators may turn to a brake press or press brake machine. This machine can operate manually or automatically and can be used to create creases needed in the material.
  • Roll Forming: This process uses a progressive series of bending to shape the sheet metal. Each bending station helps the metal achieve its final needed shape.
  • Spinning: This is also called spin forming. In this process, blank components are rotated while force is applied to one side of the blank. Products such as cookware, satellite dishes, hubcaps, rocket nose cones, and musical instruments are produced using the spinning process.
  • Deep Drawing: This process is often used when fabricators are working with more ductile metals like brass, copper or aluminum. Deep drawing stretches the material while a tool places pressure on the sheet. The material is formed into a cup-like shape. Cans, kitchen sinks, pots, cups, pans, fuel tanks, and car bodies are formed using deep drawing.

These are just a few of the many methods used in the business and a simplified introduction to metal fabrication. Metal forming is complex and quite varied which why it is so useful. How does metal fabrication work? If you want to know more or need metal fabrication for your next project, contact us at Cadet Steel in Denver. We can get you the quality components you need.

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