The material chosen for a fabrication project affects if it will function as expected. Every metal has properties that determine how it can be processed. Selecting the right metal ensures that component parts can handle their environment and end use. Selection of the right material for a fabrication project is important. There are plenty of options available. Which metal to use will be determined by its material properties in relation to its application. Below are the types of metal fabrication materials.
Stainless Steel Benefits
Simply put, steel fabrication is the process involving the transformation of raw steel into a product or item that can be used in construction or assembly. When it comes to the stainless steel fabrication process, all stainless steels, particularly the austenitic grades, can be fabricated. The commonly used austenitic grades can be deep drawn, hot forged, cold forged, folded, roll formed, and spun. Stainless steel metal fabrication is suitable for a wide range of industrial fabrication projects, especially where products will be subjected to wet, damp, humid or corrosive conditions. Stainless steel will fight rust and is the logical choice for products exposed to corrosive environments.
Stainless steel is also known for:
- low maintenance
- high strength
- temperature resistance
- easy formability and fabrication
- low-maintenance (long lasting)
- attractive appearance
- environmentally friendly (recyclable)
The three main types of stainless steel are austenitic, ferritic, and martensitic. These three types of steels are identified by their microstructure or predominant crystal phase. When considering the best material for a fabrication project, stainless steel offers engineers and designers many options. The right equipment and tools fabrication easily form mold, weld, cut or stamp to design specifications and geometries. Bacteria, viruses, germs, and even stains cannot penetrate the material. Stainless steel fabrication is well suited for food manufacturing machinery, equipment cookware, cutlery, and medical devices.
Aluminum fabrication is the process of shaping aluminum into a finished product, such as a solar panel part or an outdoor enclosure. Fabrication of aluminum spans a wide field of processes, including welding, stamping, bending, extruding, and shearing, just to name a few. The most common way of joining aluminum is welding. Most alloys of aluminum are able to be easily welded once a couple of factors are taken into consideration. The corrosion resistance of aluminum is due to a tough oxide layer on the surface. Aluminum cannot take the same stress as steel as it’s malleable properties also make it prone to being dented or scratched more easily than stainless steel.
Like stainless steel, brass is known for its corrosion resistant and antimicrobial properties and is visually appealing. It is a popular choice for fixtures and decorative architectural application. It is used for hinges, doorknobs, lamps, musical instruments, roofing, and facade cladding. Brass is easily machined and requires a good deal of maintenance since it is prone to a blackish tarnish. The biggest challenge to upkeep most metals, including brass, is the removal and inhibition of tarnish. All substances, especially metals, oxidize when exposed to the air.
Carbon steels are strong hard steel that derives its physical properties from the presence of carbon and is used in hand tools and kitchen utensils. What is the difference between steel and carbon steel? Though they have the same basic composition of iron and carbon, steel types tend to have a variety of alloying elements. Carbon steel tends to have under 10.5% chromium content, but steel must be at least 10.5% chromium to be considered stainless. Carbon steels are ideal for building structures such as office buildings and bridges, in manufacturing vehicles and for making tools, blades, punches, dies, high strength wire, and springs. In general, carbon steels are stronger than stainless steel but have low corrosion resistant properties. When exposed to moisture they will corrode and rust quickly.
Copper fabrication is an effective method of utilizing copper, but it needs to be done by a professional sheet metal manufacturing company to help realize the material’s full potential. Presently, copper is used in building construction, power generation and transmission, electronic product manufacturing, and the production of industrial machinery and transportation vehicles. Because of its excellent heat conductivity, copper can be found lining the bottoms of stainless steel cookware. It is also known for its electrical conductivity and strong corrosion resistance. Copper must be cleaned regularly, or it will lose its luster and develop a green patina as it oxidizes. The material cost of copper is expensive and exceeds that of stainless steel.
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About Palmer Tool
Palmer Tool completes critical jobs on-time and on-budget. Since 1966, Palmer has taken on jobs that other shops and contractors either didn’t want, or just couldn’t do. We can fabricate parts in our shops, visit you at your plant, or meet you at on-location (ie. logging, mining, construction, etc.). From the toughest repairs to the most complex new assembly, we’ve seen and done it all. Over the past 50+ years, Palmer has maintained our reputation as a trusted expert welder and fabricator of non-ferrous alloys in demanding applications (high pressure + high temperature chemical plants). Our hard-facing applications, and robust designs, have successfully extended the service life of countless industrial “extreme service” components, saving our clients’ money! Palmer Tool and Contractors provide on-call emergency services 24/7, because we understand that in manufacturing “the clock never stops”.