Whether for tools, jewelry, or military applications, humans have been manipulating metal for thousands of years. The art of metal manipulation thrives on today. While it’s fun to enjoy using things we can make with metal, you may also find it interesting to learn what goes into the metal fabrication process. Read on to learn more!
What Tools and Techniques Are Used For Metal Fabrication?
To cut metal, you have many options. For example, you may use hand shears to allow for manual manipulation, or power or throatless shears, which are faster and more powerful. Perhaps you could use plasma cutters, a more powerful, precise option for a long, straight cut. For thicker metal, saws are a must have, though they are a slower option. Angle grinders are great if you’re needing to cut through multiple sheet metal layers. There are many other alternatives, too, such as waterjet, torch tables, nibblers, punch presses, CO2 lasers, fiber lasers, and slitting machines.
There are many options for bending metal－metal brakes and form bending are popular methods. Metal brakes ensure precise bends by using clamps and a flat bar to manipulate the metal to your desired angle. Form bending is the simplest method, and more manual, in that you place the metal over a shape or edge beneath the metal then employ either your hands, or a hammer and shaping dolly to bend it.
There are three methods for shrinking metal: tucking, heat shrinking, or using a shrinker. Tucking is the oldest method, wherein you force metal between a crevice with a hammer, or fold it with a tucking fork. Heat shrinking is simply that – heating up metal with a torch and allowing it to shrink as it cools. And a shrinker has textured jaws that compresses metal.
The most common method is with a dolly and a hammer. With it, the metal is placed behind the metal and hit in the front with a hammer. You can also use a mechanical stretcher, which holds the metal in two textured jaws and slowly pulls it.
You can also opt for the English Wheel. With this tool, the metal is set between an upper wheel and an anvil, then pinched, then rolled back and forth until it stretches to the desired size.
Metal fusion, also known as welding, is the most well known method. You can opt for TIG welding, MIG welding, or Oxy Acetylene welding. Oxy Acetylene uses mixes oxygen and acetylene for a controlled flame. TIG welding uses a smaller more precise arc, and MIG welding uses a motor to send filler wire out the tip of the gun.
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