The terms “welding” and “metal fabrication” are often used interchangeably. However, it’s worth noting that these two terms describe very different processes. Fabrication describes the overall process of manufacturing metal, while welding encompasses only one part of the entire process. Another way to look at it is that when you’re welding, you are always fabricating an end product, but you can fabricate something without welding. To fully understand the differences between welding and fabrication, you need to know what each process entails. So let’s take a closer look at metal fabrication and welding.
An Overview of Metal Fabrication & Welding
Both welding and fabrication involve cutting, shaping, and joining metal to make products. However, that’s where their similarities come to an end. Each process uses different tools and requires specialized knowledge.
As mentioned earlier, welding is a single part of the fabrication operation. During the welding process, pieces of metal are fused together using heat or pressure (and sometimes both). An array of industries rely on welding work to create their products. Some of these industries include metalworking and automobile manufacturing.
While welding describes one aspect of fabrication, metal fabrication encompasses several different processes while constructing structures and machines. For example, typical processes involved in fabricating infrastructures include cutting, welding, machining, and assembly. A single company may perform these operations itself, or it may outsource some of the tasks.
What’s Involved in the Metal Fabrication Process?
To truly understand the differences between welding and fabrication, we need to examine each process separately. As previously mentioned, metal fabrication is the process of forming metal products through the means of cutting, bending, and joining metals. Here’s a glimpse into how this is done:
- Cutting involves exactly what the name describes — cutting the metal sheets into pieces. Metal cutting is commonly done using saw cutting techniques
- Plasma cutting is a form of cutting that uses superheated, ionized gas from a plasma torch to heat, melt, and cut metal pieces.
- Bending is the complex process of manipulating a piece of metal into a specific shape. It requires the use of high-tech equipment.
- Rolling is a metal-forming process in which metal is shaped by being passed through rollers rotating in opposite directions. Rolling is mainly used to decrease the thickness of the metal.
- Punching involves using a punch press to make pre-designed patterns into the metal for either functional or decorative purposes.
- Drilling is the process of cutting a hole in a piece of metal using a rotary cutting tool. The drill bit is pressed against the material while being rotated quickly until a circular hole is formed.
- Cambering involves adding a curve to a metal beam so that it can support more weight. In most applications, a cambering machine is used to hold a piece of metal in place, while hydraulics is used to put pressure in the middle of the metal.
What’s Involved in the Welding Process?
If the fabrication process requires two pieces of metal to be joined together, the fabricator will use welding techniques or outsource the task to a company specializing in welding services. Welders fuse metal pieces using heat and pressure.
Welding typically falls into two categories: fusion welding and solid-state welding. Fusion welding involves heating metal pieces and adding a filler to join them together, while solid-state welding is the process of joining metal parts together with heat but without additives. At PennFab, we use three types of welding, flux core, sub-arc, and gas metal arc welding, to give our clients confidence in the final product.
Trust PennFab With Your Next Fabrication & Welding Job
Understanding the differences between welding and fabrication can help you know exactly what you need to bring your final product to fruition. When it comes to metal manufacturing, no one is better than PennFab. We’ve been the leading fabrication and welding company in Pennsylvania since 1983. Our trained and experienced technicians can take your concept and turn it into a finished product. Learn more about our Pennsylvania metal fabrication company, and let us shape and finish your next project.