Metal welding has played a pivotal role in an array of industries including construction, manufacturing, mining, shipping and even in households. When working with metal, even professionals use the terms welding and fabrication interchangeably, which can be confusing if you are trying to hire the right company for a specific job.
In reality, while there is an overlap between welding and fabrication, they actually describe two different processes. If you are looking for welding fabrication in Sydney, we will explain the differences and show what skills welders and fabricators need to help you make a good choice.
How does fabrication differ from welding?
For many people, welding and fabrication seem similar and involve using metal to create a range of useful products. However, there are some important differences between the two terms, and the skills and processes needed for each vary.
Fabrication covers the complete process of bending and shaping metal and assembling the pieces before joining. Accordingly, metal fabrication requires additional metalwork skills and tools to create the right forms for the final assembled product.
Welding is a more specific and standalone process, such as repairing or joining pipelines. It does not always need fabrication skills. In the context of fabrication, welding fuses the pieces together with a strong bond, especially where other ways of joining metal, such as rivets or bolts, are not practical or suitable.
Naturally, there is often an overlap and many welders can fabricate, while many fabricators can weld as part of the process of fabrication.
What Is welding fabrication?
In simple terms, welding fabrication is the process of creating projects from existing pieces by cutting and fashioning metal ready for assembly and welding them together. Any professional engaged in fabrication should follow AS/NZS ISO 3834 quality guidelines to ensure a safe and efficient job.
A skilled fabricator uses a number of metalworking techniques to manipulate metal into the right shape and size for the welding stage of the process, including:
- Die cutting
- Roll forming
As an example, for repairing car bodywork, a fabricator will cut, roll, and hammer a piece of sheet metal into exactly the right shape before welding to the base metal. To make a gate, a fabricator might heat a length of metal and bend it around a jig to achieve exactly the right angle. Even using an angle grinder to cut structural steel girders to the right length requires fabrication skills.
Tools typically used in fabrication are more sophisticated and allow for joining. Some of them include welding clamps, abrasives, adjustable wrenches, angle grinders, shears, breaks and benders and welding machines.
At Sydney Welders, we have a range of welding skills and tools to help us complete both simple or complex projects.
Which projects typically require fabrication?
Fabrication is useful for a wide selection of projects in the home and workplace, some of which include:
- Architectural metal
- Steel benches
- Privacy screens
- Aluminium front doors
- Engine components
- Vehicle parts
- Structural beams
- Columns and awnings
What types of welding work best?
With the metal components prepared, fabricators typically use MIG or TIG welding to complete a join. Other processes, such as oxy-acetylene, laser welding, and brazing are also useful, but not as common.
TIG welding is a gentler process than the other techniques, using lower heat that is less likely to deform and damage metals. It often uses a filler metal, making it more laborious, slower, and requiring more skill, but the process leaves neat, extremely precise welds. Because of the lower temperature, TIG is useful for welding stainless steel and aluminium, and it leaves particularly strong welds.
MIG welding is easier and quicker than TIG welding and requires less skill. It produces higher temperatures, but is more likely to damage the base metal and is not as precise or as neat unless performed by an experienced professional. Because MIG welding uses a continuous feed electrode, it is good for longer, uninterrupted welds.
How does Fabrication work for stainless steel and aluminium?
While working with mild steel is common for welding, stainless steel and aluminium are increasingly used today. These metals are ideal for multiple products, from elegant railings and kitchen equipment to boats and infrastructure.
Aluminium and stainless steel possess unique properties that make them useful and often easier to fabricate than many other metals, but they can also present problems during welding. Welders need a different set of skills to prevent the metal from deforming and avoid burning through it with the welding torch.
For both of these metals, you need a skilled welder and fabricator who can prepare the metal properly and join the pieces without causing damage.
Stainless steel fabrication
Stainless steel is relatively strong, but it is also quite malleable, allowing bending, machining, and folding. However, it can transfer heat quickly, leading to burn-through or deformation. Stainless steel is often chosen because of its resistance to corrosion and appearance, so a welder has to avoid damaging the surface or leaving fragments of carbon steel that attract rusting.
Aluminium is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and very easy to work with, making it perfect for decorative features, vehicles, food preparation areas, and structural work. However, the fabrication process can damage the metal, which can be brittle under certain stresses, and it is easy to burn through during welding.
Sydney Welders has become one of the premier experienced and professional welding specialists in Sydney. We use only time-served welders with full certifications who know exactly how to complete projects on different types of metals – on time and without any problems.
Whether you need someone to fabricate gates or railings at home, or pressure boilers and kitchen equipment at work, we tackle fabrication projects on any scale and can adapt to any task.
Just as importantly, our mobile welders have all the tools they need and all the skills to travel to you, making sure that everything works perfectly onsite. Whether you want steel, stainless steel, or aluminium fabrication in Sydney, we can help.