An Inventor's Guide To 5 Types Of Metal Fabrication

The internet has made it easier than ever for inventors to find manufacturers for their invented products. In order to select a manufacturer for products that are made from metal, inventors must be aware of the different metal fabrication techniques that are used today and what advantages each has. Here's a guide to several metal fabrication techniques and what each is used for.

Forging is Used for Strength

Forging today is often done by automated machines, but the principles involved in the process are the same as those used by blacksmiths in metal forges. In forging, metal pieces are shaped by heating metal and then hitting it with a hammer. Once warm, the metal becomes somewhat pliable, and repeated hammer blows can shape it into almost any shape.

Because metal shaped during forging is hot, the internal components of the metal are altered during the manufacturing process. The result is a final product that has uniform flow characteristics and grain size, which creates superior directional, structural, and impact strength.

For this reason, forging is often used to create products that need to be extremely strong. Tools, vehicle parts, and machine parts might be forged if they will be grating or banging against other parts and, therefore, must be strong.

CNC Machining is Used for Low-Volume Orders

CNC machining stands for computer numerical control machining. This metal fabrication technique uses a computer program to cut parts out from metal pieces or sheets. As Mike Lynch explains, many different types of machines, including waterjets, robots, grinders, lathes, welders, and others may be used to do the cutting. As long as a computer is used to program the machine through a CNC controller, the technique is considered CNC machining.

Because a CNC machine is computer controlled, it can be used for smaller runs. This type of metal fabrication is often used to create prototypes because one-off items can be made. It's also frequently used by inventors who want to build a business from their invention.

Stamping is Used for Smaller Parts Orders

Stamping uses a large stamp to punch pieces out of sheets of metal. A custom stamp is made and then dropped onto sheets of metal. The stamps' stencils cut out the pieces from sheets of metal, hence the term "stamping."

Stamping is an efficient way to make parts, but several restrictions limit its usefulness to certain applications. Stamps are limited in how large they can be, so this technique is usually limited to smaller parts. Additionally, the metal being stamped must be thin enough that a large stamp will punch out pieces in one strike. Therefore, stamping is usually only used for pieces that are made from a single sheet of metal.

Brackets are a prototypical stamped part: They're small and flat.

Rolling is Used to Adjust Thickness

Rolling is a technique that's used to adjust the thickness of metal sheets used in parts. This technique is similar to rolling out cookie dough with a rolling pin, except it's done with much harder materials and on an industrial scale.

Rolling may be applied to any product that needs varying thickness. Once common example is knives, where one side of the product is extremely thin and the other is thicker.

Multi-Step Metal Fabrication

Each of these types of metal fabrication has their own specific use. Many inventions, however, call for parts that have multiple features. For example, an invention might have one part that has a varied thickness, another part that must be strong and brackets to hold it together.

When parts with multiple features are needed, these types of metal fabrication are often combined into a multi-step production that's tailored to the specific part or invention being made. Contact a company like Suburban Welding & Steel LLC to learn more about fabrication processes.