Construction projects that involve steel fabrications use a number of differing techniques for forming and piecing sections of metalwork together. Some are used for decorative purposes while others are designed to create greater rigidity and strength. The common steel fabrication methods in use today are outlined below in greater detail.
Sawing is now considered to be an outdated way of cutting steel to size. Although many steel fabricators still use saws, processes that involve the use of plasma torches and water jets are now commonplace. In addition, some fabrication firms will use lasers when high-level precision is required with cutting. Laser cutting is a computer controlled approach which, when repeated for multiple sections of steel, ensures great uniformity. Some of the top quality cutting machines now in use can cost millions of dollars.
A good number of fabrication projects require sections of steel to be bent. Sometimes referred to as folding, bending steel is usually done with a press brake. This device uses a set of dies that push against the steel to create a crease in the structure of the metal itself. The procedure of bending steel can only be put to use in specific projects because not all press brakes can accommodate larger steel sections. However, this remains a good approach for reshaping things like tubular steel.
This technique is used to join two or more sections of steel together. Oxyacetylene torches are a favoured means of welding steel, causing the metal to heat up and fuse together.
Taking away steel from a section of metal by machining it is often performed on a lathe, a machining tool. Lathes are able to cut away metal from a spinning section in an even way. It is, therefore, good for fabricating decorative turns and for reducing the diameter of round sections of steel. However, other machining tools are sometimes used which don't require the steel to spin. An example of this sort of machining process would be drilling which is used to create holes in steel sections, for instance, to create a recess for a rivet.
Unlike drilling, punching is a fabrication process that utilises a die to form an impact on a section of steel. In most cases, a steel punching machine operates on much the same principle as a stationery hole punch, fashioning different shaped holes according to which die is selected for the job in hand.