Guide to Metal Fabrication: Types of Metal Fabrication Process and Material Selection | CNCLATHING

2020.5.22

Metal fabrication is not assembling some components into the end product, its the process of manufacturing metal parts through various methods. What should you know about metal manufacturing? Starts with the types of metal fabrication processes and material selection, choose right technology and metal to get your desired parts. 

Metal Fabrication Guide - What is Metal Fabrication?

Metal fabrication is the creation of metal parts or structures from a variety of metal materials through different manufacturing processes. The metal materials come in sheet, bar, plate or other forms can be made into specific shapes and dimensions. Metal fabrication needs thorough plan and strategy to ensure the success of actual work. Technique and material selection is important before the process. 

Types of Metal Fabrication Process

The process for manufacturing or fabricating metal products including cutting, welding, machining, forming, casting, forging, punching, drawing, drilling, turning, milling, extrusion, etc. Choose a right fabrication method based on the geometry, properties, and materials of the metal, as well as what is is used for. 

Cutting: a basic fabrication process, which can be completed through laser cutting, chopping, sawing, shearing and chiseling. In CNC machining, the workpiece also need to be cut with cutting tools. It can make the sheet metal into pieces of the required size and shape.

Turning: a machining process of which the rotary metal fixed on the chuck is cut with a tool on lathes or turning center.  

Drilling: the process of a circular drill it cut or produce holes into the metal.

Milling: a common machining process of using a rotary cutter to remove material through feeding the cutter into a work piece. 

Casting: pouring the molten metal into a mold or die and allow it cools and harden into the desired shape. It is suitable for mass production. There are die casting, vacuum casting, sand casting and more types.

Forging: using the pressure from a hammer or die when it striking to the metal to shape it. Cold forging, warm forging or hot forging are determined by the temperature. 

Drawing: using the tensile force to pull metal into and through a die, a thinner shape is generally formed after the stretching. When the depth of the structure is equal to or greater than its radius, the process is considered as deep drawing. Drawing is a common way to produce wires.

Extrusion: the process of creating objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile, the metal is pushed through a die of the desired cross-section. It can create very complex cross-sections and excellent surface finish. 

Metal Fabrication Materials Selection

To metal fabrication manufacturers, the understanding of metal types, looks, characteristics, machinability and properties are essential. Let’s define the metal material into different categories and explore the characteristics and usages of different materials, to know what process is required for the certain material or what material you should choose for your project. CNClathing.com works with a wide range of metal grades for our CNC machining services

 

Hardness

Soft Metals: Aluminum, Magnesium, Brass, and Copper

Hard Metals: Steel, Stainless Steel, Chrome, and Titanium

 

Machinability 

Easy to machine: carbon steel (1212, 1213, 12L14), aluminum (cold drawn, cast), magnesium (cold drawn, cast)

Difficult to machine: tool steel, gray cast iron, stainless steel (except 416), alloy steel

Common materials in metal manufacturing

1.  Aluminum

 

Pure aluminum is a soft metal that is highly malleable, not suitable for mechanical applications. Add other elements can make aluminum stronger, aluminum alloy products can be used for aerospace, automotive, and more industries. Commonly used aluminum alloys for CNC machining are including 6061, 6063, 7075, 2024, etc. Check out the properties and more information about aluminum at CNClathing.com.

2.  Magnesium

Magnesium is the lightest of all structural metals, with strength close to aluminum, often used for production of camera and cell phone bodies, power tool frames, laptop computer chassis, transmission cases, seat frames, and intake manifolds and more. Magnesium is easy to machine, readily molded and die-cast, but it’s not resistant to corrosion.

 

3.  Brass

Brass is an alloy composed of copper and zinc, it has strong wear resistance, low melting point, good malleability, and high corrosion resistance, weather resistance. CNCLATHING provide custom CNC machining brass parts like knobs, bearings, gears, valves, sleeves, bushings, lock parts, nuts, etc. 

 

4.  Carbon steel

Carbon steel is a combination of iron and carbon, also known as mild steel, frequently used structurally in buildings and bridges, axles, gears, shafts, rails, pipelines and couplings, cars, and fridges. High carbon steel gets a higher tensile strength, which makes it a preferred material in fabrication of cutting tools, blades, springs, dies, punches, and more. 

 

5.  Stainless steel

Stainless steel is an alloy of iron with a minimum of 10.5% chromium, remarkable as its high corrosion resistance and rust-proof. The ease of cleaning makes stainless the first choice for strict hygiene conditions, such as hospitals, kitchens, abattoirs and other food processing plants. Common stainless steel grades are 304 and 316. 300-series stainless steel is very tough and can’t be hardened. Stainless steel 300-series are not easy to machine, but they are often used for medical instruments, vacuum and pressure vessels. 

 

6.  Titanium

Titanium a transition metal, which is lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant,with tensile strength almost twice that of any mild steel but weighs just half as much, an ideal choice for aerospace industry, its biocompatibility make titanium a reliable material for bone screws, pins and plates