Steel fabrication has been around as long as man has had a need to make things from steel. In the old days a piece of steel was worked by hand into whatever shape was required; using hammers, heat, and arm strength. Today there are various machines that have been invented to make this process easier.
Fabrication is a term that refers to the working of the steel into a utilitarian shape. Melting and pouring of molten steel into a mould is called forging and is not considered fabrication. Steel fabrication is used to create many things you may use every day such as the frames to buildings, gas tanks, and steel support beams.
To begin a desired amount of steel is cut from a sheet of sheet metal or a piece of structural steel. Then the steel is bent and fastened into what is being made using many processes both by hand and machines. Steel fabrication is considered somewhere between a skill and art, as some of the pieces that can be created while serving a function, can be amazing to look at.
The cutting process of steel fabrication uses many different tools, equipment like plasma torches, CNC cutters, lasers, or water jets can be used depending on the type of cuts needed. If you ever watch those car or motorcycle restoration television shows then you have seen steel fabrication. These pieces of metal will then be made into the required part.
Next the steel is heated, bent and hammered into shape. Everything from a hand held hammer to a power hammer to a brake press are used in the phase of steel fabrication. This can be the most difficult part of the fabrication process as having a bend off by one or two millimetres can cause big problems later in the process. This is where skill, experience, and patience pay off.
Finally there is the fastening phase of steel fabrication. Depending on what is required the pieces may be put together with rivets or adhesive. However more commonly, fastening will be done by welding the metal together, welding is definitely a skill and depending on what is created it can be the artistic quality of fabrication.
If you ever have the opportunity to look closely at the petrol tank of a motorcycle, this is a piece that was created using steel fabrication. Try to find the seams, try to find the weld marks; you will not be able to, as these pieces were made by a professional welder. The simple sheet metal was turned into a perfectly shaped motorcycle gas tank.
Although originally steel fabrication was hard work, done by hand using hammer and heat, today it is somewhat easier. With the use of different mechanical tools, steel fabrication has been brought into the twenty first century.