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Welding and fabrication: a complete guide
Welding and fabrication are very common and at the same time important processes involved in mechanical engineering. The process enables metal structures to be manufactured in varied shapes and sizes for different applications.
Metal fabrication is an industrial term that refers to the building of structures through different processes, including cutting, shaping, and assembling components made out of steel. During the fabrication process, several raw materials are used, such as steel, aluminium, ferrous and non- ferrous. Fabricators procure them in raw form then cut, bend, and form them to the required sizes in preparation for welding. Cutting and bending is done with the help of variety of tools. The most common way to cut steel is by Shearing. It is a metalworking process which cuts steel without the formation of chips or use of burning and melting. Sheared materials are commonly in the form of sheet metals and plates. Cutting torches are used for cutting large sections of steel with little efforts. These days, CNC cutting torches which are usually fuel gas powered or plasma or laser cutting are used for cutting steel.
The next major step involved in steel fabrication is drilling. A drill line is commonly used to drill holes and mill slots into beams, channels and sections. CNC drill lines are equipped with feed conveyors and position sensors to move the element into position for drilling and for determining the precise location where the hole or slot is to be cut.
It is in fact the most important part of fabrication as the prepared parts are welded together using different techniques and procedures. The common welding processes that are used include, SMAW or Shielded Metal Arc Welding, GMAW or Gas Metal Arc Welding, GTAW or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, FCAW or Flux cored arc welding.
Welding joins materials by causing fusion. Fusion is different from low temperature metal joining techniques like brazing and soldering which do not melt the base metal. As well as melting the base material, a filler material is added to the joint to form a pool of molten material which cools down to form a joint that can be strong as the base material. Pressure may be used along with heat to produce a weld. Different energy sources can be used for welding like gas flame, electric arc, laser, electric beam, friction, and ultrasound.
Metal fabrication and welding is applied in many industries, namely construction, engineering, marine, civil engineering, onshore or offshore. Basically, it is applicable to any scenario where metal material is required to be manipulated and joined to specific designs. Once steel is cut, drilled, and welded and has cooled, it is shot blasted, primed and painted as per the individual requirements of the buyer.
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