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Answering Some Commonly Asked Questions About Metal Fabrication

by Kyle Marshall

Most production facilities and repair shops will need metal fabrication performed at one time or another, either for their raw materials or for repair work on various parts. Rather than hire a welder or invest in expensive equipment to do this on your own, you could simply send out metal pieces to be fabricated for you. Note some questions you might have about the process of metal fabrication so you know what's involved and have an easier time hiring the right company for your needs.

What is the difference between TIG and MIG welding?

Metal Inert Gas, or MIG, welding involves using a wire that is continuously fed through the welding process. This is not as precise as TIG, or tungsten arc welding, which uses an electron that is adhered to the metal being welded. MIG welding may be used for repairing car parts and other items that need strength but which aren't necessarily going to be seen. It is also the better option when you're welding two pieces of metal with very different melting points; the wire will adhere to both metals and keep the softer one from being damaged by the heat. TIG welding is often more expensive but yields a more attractive weld for items that will be seen by the end user, such as outer housing for appliances.

Why are metals given a zinc or chromium bath?

Very often, after metals are fabricated, they're dipped in zinc or chromium. This is to protect any open areas around the fabrication, such as near rivets or screws, from oxidation and potential rust. Fabrication may also compromise the surface of metal so that it's softer and more likely to get scratched, such as when used for counters in a commercial kitchen. Zinc and chromium give strength to the metal and protect it from nicks and scratches, along with potential oxidation, rust, bacteria build-up and the like.

Is laser cutting safe for all metals?

There are a lot of misconceptions about laser cutting, one being that the lasers are hot and will melt or bend softer metals like aluminium. A hot laser is usually only seen in the movies where it's used as a fictional weapon; in reality, a laser is just a concentrated beam of light. It works with no or very little heat and is safe to use even on fabric and other such materials. It also can easily shear a piece of metal without bending it or leaving rough and jagged edges or burrs. For any type of cutting, laser may be the most precise and even the safest form of metal fabrication available.