Often times, the words welding and fabrication are used interchangeably because both are used to work with metals. While they include the bending, shaping and manipulation of metal, different tools and methods are necessary in each process. Some metal fabrication jobs require a welder while others do not. A welder might only play a part in the fabrication process which may require other skills, aside from welding, to complete. Let’s take a look at some of the main differences between welding and fabrication.
Welding and Fabrication: What are the Differences?
Fabrication. Fabrication refers to the entire process of manufacturing products that use metal and includes all the tasks necessary for the manufacture of an end product. It includes those who design the project and plan for its production. There may be ironworkers, blacksmiths, and machine setters all involved in the fabrication process.
Fabricators may use different tools and skills than welders. Those who manage and supervise the fabrication process are also known as fabricators.
Welding. Welding is a complex process that requires specialized skills and years of experience for the welder to be able to successfully create strong and neat welds. Welders choose from a number of processes to join together pieces of metal. There are different types of welding, depending on the type of metal involved and the industry for whom the welding is being done. The goal “is to permanently bond different metal pieces.” Welding is always a step in the fabrication process.
Main Techniques Used in Fabrication
Metal fabrication companies may use different fabrication techniques plus, the technique used may differ depending on the industry for which the fabrication is being performed. The main techniques used are cutting, bending, and assembling, in that order.
Cutting. One or more pieces of metal are cut to meet the specifications needed for the new metal product. Any metal can be cut, but special tools are required. A torch is often used to cut the metal. This requires live operators to personally perform these tasks.
Many companies use a computer numerical control (CNC) machine. The machine uses preprogrammed software that controls the machinery. There are many types of CNC machines, such as those that use lasers or water jets. The cuts are consistent, clean, and all appropriately sized for the specific project.
Bending. After the metal is cut, it then needs to be bent to the correct shape. This can be done by hand, hammering the metal. Many fabricating companies now use press brake machines that automatically shape the metal into the desired shape.
Assembling. As the name implies, the metal must be shaped into the final product. This often requires welding, but may also involve gluing, and applying screws or other fasteners.
What Types of Tools are Used in Welding and Fabrication?
Specialized tools are used in the fabrication process as well as in the welding process. There are a lot of overlaps, but some tools are specific to each process. For example, welders use tools for joining metals. Fabricators use tools for cutting, bending, and shaping metals. Both welders and fabricators need personal protective equipment (PPE).
Do Both Fabrication and Welding Require the Use of the Same Type of Safety Gear?
Fabricators and welders work with heavy materials that involve hot metals and sharp surfaces. For these tasks they need:
- Face shields and goggles for eye protection.
- Ear protection from the loud noise of the machines.
- Helmets to protect the head from sparks. Commonly, the welding or fabricating helmet is referred to as a “hood” since it provides eye and face protection as the face shield and goggles are attached to the helmet.
- Heavy leather gloves and aprons for protection against sparks and from being cut by metal.
- Safety footwear.
- Respirators, when it is deemed the process requires them for the health of the welder or fabricator.
Vern Lewis Welding Supply Can Help with Your Fabrication or Welding Project
Vern Lewis Welding Supply has eight locations throughout the state of Arizona to serve you. In addition to maintaining a complete supply of products needed for successful fabrication and welding, our professionals at Vern Lewis will help you choose the proper tools for your project.
We will answer any questions you may have about your project and are always here to help! For more information, contact us online or call 602-633-7481.