Fabrication is the process of turning raw stock material into a part that can be used in assembly process. There are several kinds of fabrication processes including cutting, machining, folding, punching, stamping, shearing, and welding.
There are very many ways of cutting today. The oldest method is the saw. Nowadays, others include lasers, plasma torches and water jets. There’s a wide variety of complexity and pricing, with some machines being priced in the millions.
Some parts require bending. The most common way of folding raw stock material is by using a brake press. It has several dies that pinch the metal to make a crease. This process can only be carried out in very specific cases because of the motion of the part and the potential shape of the dies.
This is the act of removing metal from a material. It might be conducted on a lathe, where the piece of material rotates against a tool for cutting, or in another cutting machine where the tool is moved in different ways against a stationary object. The range of movement of the cutting head is determined by the number of axes.
Punching involves the use of a punch and a die to make a hole in metal. The punch and die need to have the same shape and size as the desired hole. Sometimes, the main material piece is kept, like in when holes are incorporated for fasteners. In other situations, the piece that’s removed is the needed product – this is known as blanking.
This is the act of creating a long cut on a sheet of metal. It is similar to the action of a paper cutter with a long chop-handle.
Stamping is similar to punching, but in this case the material piece is not cut. The die used is shaped to form a raised portion of material instead of penetrating.
This is the process of joining together two metal pieces. Different kinds of welding exist for use in a variety of applications and for a variety of metals used in the manufacturing process.
In the fabrication process, a variety of fabrication materials are used. Since the fabrication process is relatively complex the materials being used should possess certain desired characteristics. The following are some desired features of these fabrication materials:
- Casting raw material
The fabrication process of casting has been in existence for over 5,000 years and it involves inserting liquid metal into a mould. The material is then left to cool so that it can harden in the desired shape. In applications that require complex geometrics it’s a suitable method. Metals commonly used in casting include copper, gold, iron, magnesium, and steel.
- Flat metal raw materials
Flat metal is kind of metal that’s been pressed or rolled into thin/flat pieces. The thickness of a metal piece varies greatly and is normally measured in gauges. Foil or leaf metal is the thinnest flat metal type.
- Formed and expanded metal
“Expanded metal” is a term derived from the process used in creating it. To form holes in diamond shape, which are surrounded by interlinked metal strands, stock metal sheeting is sheared in a press. The shearing process expands the metal into the required size.
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