Metal fabrication is the process of cutting, bending, and assembling pieces of metal into structures or components that are used by other manufacturers. Those structures can be anything from beams to gates or grates to railings. Every metal fabrication business needs equipment to complete these tasks. The equipment falls into two categories – metal cutting equipment and metal forming equipment, and both groups have some essential pieces for any company in that line of work.
1. Wire Electrical Discharge Machine
The wire electrical discharge machine is a piece of heavy machinery used in the metal fabrication process. It uses an electrical charge to cut through metal by directing sparks like a welder does, using heat and electricity. The wire also acts as a guide for the machining tool, allowing it to pass through open sections and mark where cuts
This piece of equipment is essential for any metal fabrication business. It makes jobs like cutting sheet metal and tubing simple and quick. Traditionally, electrical discharge machines were accurate at the cost of speed. New generations of EDM machines, however, are designed to provide accuracy while being time-saving and efficient. They are typically low maintenance and easy to use.
This machine is commonly used in metal fabrication shops because it provides high-quality cuts in a timely manner. Some models even incorporate other equipment such as welding and machining tools to cut, shape, and assemble pieces of metal into the finished product, like wire threading.
2. Laser Cutting Machine
Laser cutters also have the ability to mark, measure, and score metals before cutting them, which is helpful for metal fabrication jobs that require multiple steps. Some models even feature systems that allow automatic or semi-automatic cutting, which is convenient for high-volume jobs.
Laser cutting machines use a powerful beam of light to create an accurate cut in metal. The reasons you need it alongside the wire EDM machine are simple. For tasks that need integrating components cut at various angles or crossing pieces, it’s a must-have tool. When it comes to packaging, the laser cutter helps make sure items aren’t crushed in transit. The laser cutting machine is widely used with other equipment in metal fabrication shops because of its versatility in terms of both function and precision.
A skilled operator can complete a range of projects that involve precise measurements, angles, curves, or notches with this one machine. It’s also simple to use, which means that unskilled workers can perform tasks that would otherwise need multiple machines or hands.
Shears are another piece of equipment that every metal fabrication company must utilize. Most commonly used to cut sheet metal, they can also cut steel or aluminum rods and tubes, as well as iron or brass bar stock.
Shears come in a variety of sizes and styles, so it’s important to choose the right one for your needs. Although stainless steel is a common material for shears, it’s also possible to find models made from aluminum or even titanium alloys, depending on the needs of the shop. When selecting a model to purchase, you should consider whether it can be used with other tools in your metal fabrication business. You may also want to consider the weight of the shear, as well as the rate at which it can cut through metal, depending on how busy your shop is.
The most common type has a long handle that is connected to a pivot point. A large cutting wheel at the end of the handle is pulled down by two springs, and it slices through metal. Shears can also be automated with hydraulic cylinders or even computer-controlled servo motors, depending on how technologically advanced your business is. They are versatile for projects that require straight lines or curves, as well as those that need an irregular shape to match some other object. This could be helpful for tasks like assembling a piping system or placing racks to store objects.
4. Punch Press
A heavy-duty press is used to cut designs and shapes into metal, which makes it a fairly common piece of equipment for a metal fabrication business. They can punch holes as small as a few millimeters in diameter all the way up to four inches or larger, depending on the size of your shop’s workload.
A punch press is commonly used in metal fabrication shops because it provides heavy-duty cutting capabilities in a factory-style setup, which means that several workers can complete a project simultaneously. It’s one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can buy for a metal fabrication business. A punch press is a great investment if you need to cut large sheets of metal into small components or create identical parts from sheet metal.
The material you’re cutting is forced into the die by a ram that is activated when you pull down on the press. The punch itself is lowered onto the metal sheet, and it punches out whatever design or shape you’re after based on your instructions.
5. Welding Machine
Any kind of metal fabrication project is going to require a welding machine for strength and durability. Whether you need to weld two pieces of metal together or use it with another piece of equipment to cut through tough metals, it’s a necessity in any commercial setting.
A traditional welder creates a bond between two pieces of metal by melting the material at the point where they meet. The melted material mixes with the base metal to create a stronger, but not permanent, bond that can be removed if necessary. This type of welding is commonly known as an “arc welder” because it contains carbon electrodes to ignite the welding arc which transfers energy enough for melting through two welded pieces of metal. The most common models are gas-powered because they’re designed for industrial use.
Carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen, and helium are the most common gases that work with this equipment, but shop owners can choose to go with an alternative fuel source depending on their needs. The best way to find a welding machine that’s right for your business is by considering how much work you have to do in a day. A less expensive manual welder would be sufficient for a small shop with only a few employees.
There are many different pieces of equipment that metal fabrication business owners need to buy and maintain, and every shop is going to have a slightly different setup depending on how much work they do in a day. However, all shops should have the equipment we discussed here. You should also consider how much you’re willing to spend on the equipment that’s right for your shop. Cheaper models can get you through if you’re in a pinch, but they typically break down over time, which increases the number of repairs you need to make. For a small shop, getting standard equipment might be the most cost-effective way to go in the long run.