The Metal Fabricating Process: Full A-Z Guide

The metal fabrication process encompasses manufacturing techniques like bending and cutting, using an array of advanced equipment to produce complex metal shapes, components, and assemblies. Sheet metal is highly compatible with the process, allowing custom sheet metal fabricators to create diverse products with optimal design versatility and reliable quality. The ideal fabrication partner will offer the manufacturing and secondary finishing services you need with the precision necessary to ensure tight-tolerance, high-performance products.

At H&S Manufacturing Company, we specialize in contract manufacturing services. For over half a century, we’ve helped customers in industries ranging from healthcare to military defense by providing custom, precision machining, laser cutting, box build, liquid dispensing, form-in-place gasket, and finishing services along with custom sheet metal fabrication. Learn more about the process, its benefits, and how our fabrication capabilities can help support your business.

Steps in the Metal Fabrication Process

Sheet metal custom fabrication encompasses several stages of production.

Design & Engineering

During the design and engineering phase, we work closely with you to gain an understanding of your specific needs and the requirements for your particular application. This stage might include creating prototypes and running feasibility studies to help determine the right materials and design to achieve your goals for part performance and appearance. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software allows us to take a 3D model of your part and translate that design concept into computerized instructions that our machinery will follow to accurately generate your product.

Material Preparation

At H&S Manufacturing, we start by procuring high-quality materials to provide a strong basis for your fabrication project. Our team will inspect the selected metals for defects or flaws. If found to be acceptable, we’ll utilize laser cutting equipment or shears to cut the sheets down into the desired size for your project. For custom sheet metal fabricating, our team commonly works with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Carbon steel
  • Cold rolled steel
  • Hot rolled steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Galvanized

Metal Forming

Using equipment like hydraulic presses, computer numerical control (CNC) press brakes, and more to achieve precise results, the forming process covers several different production methods, such as:

  • Bending. The bending process uses equipment like press brakes to generate V- or U-shaped folds in pieces of sheet metal.
  • Stamping. On a stamping press, a tool and die surface come together to create parts in the desired shape out of sheet metal.
  • Rolling. As the name suggests, this process uses one or multiple roller pairs to make the metal sheet’s thickness consistent or thinner, or enhance a specific property of the material.

We also offer fabrication processes such as punching, shearing, notching, laser cutting, and extruding. These various processes and their related machinery allow for precision measurements and tight tolerances, supporting high dimensional accuracy in fabricated parts.

Joining & Assembly

To create strong, lasting connections between two or more parts, our skilled fabricators will create end products or sub-assemblies using such joining techniques as:

  • Welding. Welders fuse parts together by applying heat and pressure. The heated metal on the parts’ surfaces bonds and then cools, forming a strong welded joint. Multiple welding processes, such as MIG, TIG, or arc welding, are compatible with the sheet metal fabrication process.
  • Riveting. Installing mechanical fasteners is another effective way to secure two or more pieces of sheet metal together. Like welding, riveting forms a strong and permanent joint between two parts.

At H&S Manufacturing, our team specializes in mechanical assembly.

Surface Finishing

The final step of the sheet metal custom fabrication process involves treating a part’s surface, smoothing out rough edges and burrs and removing surface flaws through processes like deburring. Finishing treatments and secondary services help provide surfaces with added resistance to corrosion and an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Surface treatments can include the following:

  • Painting. In this wet application process, we’ll spray one or more layers of water- or solvent-based paint onto a metal surface. Once dry, the paint provides better protection against risks such as abrasion and corrosion along with a cosmetic finish.
  • Powder coating. Unlike painting, powder coating is a dry application process. By applying a dry, heat-cured powder using an electrostatic coating technique, we can produce parts with both enhanced performance and a pleasing surface finish.
  • Plating. Through either an electroplating process utilizing electric current or an autocatalytic chemical procedure known as electroless plating, we can apply a thin metal layer over a metal part’s surface. Doing so can improve not only a metal’s look but also its hardness, corrosion resistance, magnetic properties, solderability, and more.

We also offer secondary processes such as heat treating, spot welding, silk screening, and hardware installation for turnkey service.

Benefits of Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication

Custom sheet metal fabricating offers the following benefits:

  • Reliable, lasting strength. When we combine the precision of sheet metal fabrication processes with high-quality raw materials, this enables us to produce durable components with a long life cycle.
  • Design flexibility for optimal customization. As custom sheet metal fabricators, we can generate parts in designs ranging from simple to complex, allowing for intricate details with precision accuracy. By offering this versatility of design, we can meet your unique product specifications along with any application-based demands.
  • Enhanced production speeds. Sheet metal fabrication is highly compatible with automation, allowing us to use advanced equipment for faster operation and increased throughput. Incorporating automation into our process allows us to streamline your project for faster turn times.
  • Cost-effectiveness. Depending on the design of a component, the sheet metal fabrication process can make complex assemblies or additional parts unnecessary, saving on production costs. Also, its efficiency and accuracy decrease the amount of material waste that the process generates.

Quality Assurance & Testing in Custom Sheet Metal Fabricating

Quality assurance is a proactive, ongoing process of evaluating the quality not just of the manufactured product but also of the fabrication processes themselves and setting the standards for achieving that quality. With thorough inspection and documentation during the production process, we can ensure product quality and compliance with customer specifications and industry standards.

Testing is part of a quality assurance plan, and we look for things like dimensional accuracy, reliable performance, and functionality. At H&S Manufacturing, we hold ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications as part of our dedication to quality assurance. Our team uses a Micro-Vu Optical Comparator, a Micro-Vu video measuring system, four Brown and Sharpe Micro-Hites, and two Zeiss CMM measuring machines to carry out coordinate measuring inspections.

Metal Fabrication Services by H&S Manufacturing Company

At H&S Manufacturing, we understand the importance of precision in manufacturing quality products. Our expert team has vast experience providing custom sheet metal fabrication services. Established in 1968, we emphasize part reliability, performance, and aesthetics as well as innovation, value, and cost-effectiveness as part of our metal fabrication process. We also offer testing services as we pride ourselves in creating products of the highest quality to both exceed our customers’ expectations and adhere to all industry quality standards.

Our facility in Rowlett, Texas, is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery that allows us to produce a wide variety of quality parts with ±0.005-inch bend tolerances. Our equipment takes raw materials in coil or sheet form and allows for materials that are 0.015 to 0.187 inches in thickness. We have the capacity to handle anything from single prototypes to high-volume production.

To get started on your next sheet metal fabrication project and partner with our team, request a quote today.