January 14, 2022 – Based on the experience of Topweld General Engineering working with different types of customers over the years, they have noticed that there is a common misconception surrounding welding and metal fabrication. Some customers seem to treat the words interchangeably, and believe that they are essentially one in the same; this is false. There is a clear distinction between the two, and failing to recognize it might cause some miscommunication between the client and their fabrication or welding contractor. These miscommunications translate to poor product quality when it is not corrected. It is understandable, however, why such cases happen. Afterall, the two trades share many overlapping procedures and common practitioners, but it does not mean that their distinction is negligible in the slightest.
For the convenience of their future customers, Topweld – an organization that provides metal fabrication services in Griffith, NSW – has compiled a short list of key differences that they may refer to before engaging in commissions.
Welding vs Metal Fabrication
WELDING is a process in which the surfaces of two or more metallic objects are melted in order to create a pool through which they can be fused together when it cools. Examples of this process include stainless steel welding, aluminum welding, and pipe and tube welding services, all of which involve the combination of separate parts without necessarily reshaping them. Although it is considered a process of metal fabrication, most standalone welding works cannot be considered metal fabrication on their own. Alongside fabrication, welding is often used for repair and modification as well. Thermoplastic is a material that can be welded similarly to metals, albeit with some differences.
Different Methods of Welding
The process of welding is further divided into different techniques that involve the use of specific tools which include, but are not limited to:
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW or Stick Welding) – uses a consumable electrode that is operated using an electrode holder. The stick acts as the filler metal and melts as an electrical arc travels through it, creating a welding pool in the surface of the metals to be welded together. The stick is covered with a substance called a flux, which disintegrates to create a protective gas that protects the molten pool during the welding process. It also helps in the formation of slag that further protects the pool as it cools;
- Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW or Metal Inert Gas Welding) – in place of a consumable electrode stick, GMAW uses a coil of wire which essentially does the same thing but at a much more streamlined method due to the convenience of a continuous feeding mechanism. The protective gas is expelled from the torch instead of having a flux coating. It is considerably easier and faster than most welding methods available;
- Flux Core Welding – also uses a continuous feeding mechanism to supply the electrode and filler metal required in welding, the main difference is that the wire is hollow, and contains a flux core that is consumed during the weld. Its simplicity makes it popular in fast stainless steel fabrication and aluminum fabrication;
- Tungsten Inert Gas Welding (TIG Welding) – Unlike the previous welding methods, TIG welding uses a tungsten electrode that does not melt. The protective gas and electrode are still handled using a torch, but filler metal is carefully applied using the welder’s free hand. It is among the most time-consuming and difficult methods, but its results are much cleaner in comparison. That is why it is used in most workshops like the ones Topweld operates in Griffith for aluminum fabrication.
METAL FABRICATION is the whole process of designing, cutting, assembling, and welding complete metalwork projects. It aims to produce an end product, in contrast to the means goal of welding. As such, it can be said that welding is a subset of procedures involved in fabrication. For example, steam pipe installation will usually involve welding pipes together in a system, but unless the process includes those pipes being made from sheet metal, then it may not be considered metal fabrication. In short, a metal fabricator is usually also a welder but not all welders are metal fabricators. There is also a difference in the amount and diversity of workers involved in either trades, as fabrication will not only require the handiwork of welders, but also oher specialists like designers and blacksmiths.
When to Hire a Welder?
With enough skill, knowledge, and proper equipment, almost anyone can be a welder. It is best suited for work that involves metallic objects being fused, sealed, reinforced, etc. without having to make complex changes in the form of the parts involved.
When to Hire a Metal Fabricator?
It might be misleading to refer to it as a singular noun, since the process of steel fabrication may involve more than one person. Designing an end product, measuring the project parameters, shaping principal materials into usable parts, and putting those parts together (which may or may not involve welding) are all necessary steps during the metal fabrication process whose responsibilities may be delegated to various individuals working in collaboration.
Metalwork is a multifaceted field that encompasses a wide range of occupations. By correctly distinguishing between them, clients can accurately determine the correct set of services they will need for a specific project. This foresight will ensure that the work is efficient and is being handled properly by a professional. Not to mention, it is a sign of respect towards the people in the industry. It is highly recommended that clients take this into consideration.
For aluminum and stainless steel fabrication services in Griffith, NSW, Australia, alongside other fabrication and welding work, Topweld General Engineering is a choice that clients will not regret. They accept work in their in-house workshops or with their mobile welding services.