Sheet metal fabrication is an exciting and interesting industry that has far-reaching effects within our daily lives. You may not realize how much infrastructure is made possible thanks to the efforts of sheet metal workers, but that doesn’t mean the HVAC, structural and mechanical components they create are any less essential.
If you’re interested in getting into sheet metal fabrication or using their skills for hobby or personal projects, this is the article for you. We discuss the various responsibilities of a sheet metal fabricator and provide context for each of these related duties. See what the experts at Rosedale Sheet Metal get up to down below!
What Sheet Metal Fabricators Do
Building Products from Sheet Metal
Perhaps the most obvious result of sheet metal fabrication, workers are expected to create products from sheet metal. An example of this is HVAC ducting, including the joints, corners and other pieces needed to create a complete system for moving air through a commercial or industrial building. While structural components, like trusswork, are more the domain of steel workers, smaller pieces and specialty works may also be done with sheet metal.
Additionally, custom artwork, repair and modifications are often in the domain of the sheet metal fabricator. These projects are much more specific to the particular incidence, but they may involve using any combination of the skills and duties described in the following text.
Shaping, Cutting and working Sheet Metal
Working with sheet metal can be dangerous when not conducted by professionals. Sharp edges, heavy materials and tools all require a steady and informed hand to prevent injuries and issues. To that end, many sheet metal workers will work to shape, cut and work the various metals needed to complete a project. From tin snips to punches to levels and more, these tools and the techniques they require must be learned through training and experience.
Operating Computerized & Electronic Equipment
Many large sheet metal facilities also employ computerized equipment to handle large volumes, repeatable objects and difficult tasks. These machines are built for a variety of purposes, from shaping to cutting to flattening the metal, and so much more. This equipment makes it easier to complete more work without sacrificing quality, and should be operated by trained personnel.
Welding is the process of fusing two or more metals together. Many different welding methods exist, but only certain ones will work with sheet metal. The thinness and softness of common sheet metal materials, like aluminum and zinc, make them unsuitable for welding processes that involve very high temperatures or overly strong bonds.
Polishing, Prepping & Finishing Sheet Metal Pieces
Working with sheet metal can be a dirty process, as lubrication, heat and patina by-products are often involved. When welding, cutting or manipulating metal, other issues can arise, such as weld spatter or dross. As a result, many sheet metal fabricators will spend time cleaning, prepping and putting the finishing touches on their projects. This can involve grinding, painting, polishing, cleaning and similar activities, depending on the scope of the project.
Reading and Interpreting Work-related Plans and Documents
A final consideration of what sheet metal workers do is what will happen in the initial stages of most projects. That is to say that reading and interpreting work-related documents must be done to ensure the project is completed successfully and correctly. These documents range from simple drawings on paper to in-depth architectural drawings and drafts completed by other relevant professionals and client representatives.