When it comes to metal fabrication and welding, you might hear the two terms used interchangeably. But is welding the same as metal fabrication? Despite this common misconception, they aren’t the same thing. It’s an easy mistake to make as they’re both two of the most crucial processes in metalwork services. Welding is a process that forms just a small part of the entire fabrication cycle. However, fabrication might not always involve welding.
In this blog, we’ll answer questions about what the two industry terms mean, and talk about the difference between metal fabrication and welding.
Fabrication is the whole cycle in which a component or structure goes through to create a project out of metal. This cycle includes everything from layout and design to formation and finishing. Welding refers to the process of joining together two materials, most commonly metals. Although welding is often part of the fabrication cycle, you can produce a fabrication project without the need for welding altogether.
Welding fuses metals, thermoplastics, or glass together using heat or pressure. There are four main welding techniques, the most common ones being: MIG (Metal Inert Gas), TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas), MMA welding(Manual Metal Arc), electrofusion welding, and stick welding.
Fabrication is an overarching process, much like the terms ‘electrical’ or ‘plumbing’, and so it involves many different techniques. Fabrication might include skills such as hydroforming, stretching, spinning, shrinking, roll forming, and (of course), welding.
In welding, the common tools include pliers, torches, consumable electrodes, clamps and power sources. Alongside this, there is very specific safety equipment that should always be used, which we will talk about later on.
Fabricators often begin by cutting sheets of metals down to size, which requires a variety of cutting machines such as laser cutters, plasma torches, and mechanical saws. A lathe may then be used to cut holes for bolts, and then use bending machines such as stretches and shears to add angles to the metal.
In the metalwork industry, you’ll often find a lot of crossover between the skills of welders and metal fabricators. It’s likely that a lot of fabricators can weld at a basic level, and vice versa. This doesn’t apply for a complex weld, in which case a specialist welding engineer will be required.
The main difference between metal fabricators and welders, alongside the different tools, techniques and processes outlined above, is the machinery and level of manual work required in welding. Welding sometimes requires stationary tools but is all largely done by hand. Fabrication, however, uses more electrical tools, alongside hand tools, to complete a project.
Metal fabrication and welding both require working with hot metal and heavy machinery, meaning a high level of safety precautions are required. Each tradesperson should use safety equipment on every metalwork process. These include, but are by no means limited to, steel-toe boots, gloves, auto-darkening helmet, and a respirator. The workshop is also bound to highly crucial safety precautions that must be in place at all times, such as fume extraction, adequate lighting, and first aid stations for first-aid trained personnel.
At Hythe Fabrication Services our team holds 20 years of experience. Our skilled steel and metal fabricators provide solutions for any shape of metal, and we take the time to work with you to understand your specific requirements so we can build you a bespoke solution.
We provide support with the design, manufacture and/or installation process. A dedicated account manager will ensure your project runs smoothly and is delivered both on time and within budget.
We specialise in galvanising, powder-coated aluminium and finishing touches across the UK.
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Hythe Fabrication Services has a team of highly qualified and experienced fabricators, available for all your fabrication needs.