Metals start the process in one of two forms; structural and sheet metal. Sheet metal is available as rectangular sheets or rolls of different thickness and sizes. If sheet metal is thicker than 3/16” it is referred to as a plate. On the other hand, structural metal comes formed into different shapes from the start, the most common ones being HSS, channels, beams and angles. The metal you use is largely dependent on your end goal and the application of its desired use. more personalized projects will obviously require more custom shaping.
The process of custom metal fabrication occurs in three stages; metal cutting, forming and assembly.
Here several tools like notches, punches, lasers, plasmas, shears and saws are used. Straight line cuts are made using saws, with the cut of material needed determining the saw that is used. Beams are passed through conveyors so they can be cut into various sizes. When more articulate cuts are required shears are used and, like saws, the cut of metal required determines the size of shear. Lasers and plasmas are used to cut more complex shapes like circles and complex curves. They are usually controlled by computers and can cut any metal with precision. Notches and punches are used for creating openings on metals of any size or shape using high pressure.
Once the metals have been formed, they are assembled and joined. This process typically involves welding the pieces together with intense heat without compromising the integrity of the individual pieces. It is at this time that the final product comes together and all of the earlier metal shapings serve its intended purpose.