Fabrication is basically any process that can cut, shape or form a material into an end product. There are different types of fabrication. Eventually, the methods used to produce equipment will be determined by several factors, including the purpose, the available budget and the desired appearance. There are two general categories of fabrication processes; plastic and metal. Before determining which way to go with your fabrication machinery, it is important to understand the following examples and basic fabrication processes;
- Cutting: this involves machinery or tools removing excess material from work pieces in order to meet shape and size requirements. Examples of cutting materials include cutting torches and band saws.
- Forming: this is the process through which processes are deformed. An example is the use of the hydraulic press to bend or press products at specified angles.
- Machining: this is the process of using automated or manually operated machinery to shape materials. Examples include lathing, milling, horning or drilling.
- Welding: this joins two or more pieces through the application of heat or pressure.
If you have to decide between plastic and metal fabrication, then the following pros and cons will help you with the decision.
For plastic, due to the low melting point and high malleability, it is easy to mold into complex shapes with relative ease. Unlike most metals, plastics can easily be colored, removing the need for complex post-treatment processes like painting. Plastic fabrication makes for faster production and quick turnover times. They are lighter in weight and offer quick turnover times. On the other hand, they have structural weaknesses and limited wear resistance.
For metal fabrication, the advantages are as follows. Metals will typically have a high melting point and are therefore less likely to degrade at high temperatures. They are stronger, harder and more durable than plastic, and can be fabricated through a wide range of processes. Metal also offers cost effective options, especially with regards to long term production.
The flip side is that metal fabrication is likely to require post fabrication processes like painting. Due to the strength, they are expensive and have design limitations.
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