Many people considering custom metalwork may not understand all the terminology that the experts use to describe processes and procedures. We think that happy customers are only possible with great communication, which means explaining some important points so you can have the right expectations for your project. The words welding and fabrication are often used interchangeably, and while you’ll often find metal fabricators in a welding shop and vice versa, they are not quite the same thing. Let’s dig in.
In a nutshell, welding describes the process of fusing two or more pieces of metal together. There are many techniques and materials that make welding possible, but the end result is always to permanently bond pieces of metal to one another.
Metal fabrication, on the other hand, describes the broader concept of metalworking to create a structure, component, or piece. Metalworking can include processes such as cutting, machining, forming, and, you guessed it, welding.
Different Tools & Different Skill Sets
Fabricators have an assortment of tools and machines to do their jobs. These include mechanical saws, plasma torches, and laser cutters to separate pieces, lathes to remove cut holes or remove portions, bending machines to shape and stretch, and more. The welding toolbox includes clamps, torches, electrodes, and every welding shop has a well-stocked section of safety equipment to protect eyes from damaging light and shields to prevent the inhalation of dangerous fumes.
When metal fabricators get to work, they tend to bring the metal to the tool, much like you’d see a woodworker bring a large board to a table saw or drill press. In most cases, welders do their work by hand on the pieces themselves, wherever they may be located, much like you’d see a carpenter bring a hammer to the structure they are building.
Can One Expert Do Both?
Finding a fabricator who is skilled at basic welding techniques can be more common than finding a highly-skilled welder who is also a fabricator. That’s because the fabrication process usually involves some welding to join pieces, and it’s useful to the fabricator to be able to execute that process without waiting for someone else. However, that fabricator is less likely to be skilled at a variety of welding techniques beyond those they use frequently or consider themselves a welding expert.
On the other hand, a welding shop employs a wide variety of applications and different tools, products, and methods are required for joining different types of metals. Some welds need to be smooth and aesthetically pleasing, others require a great deal of structural strength, and some push the welder to achieve both. A welder can work a lifetime perfecting their craft or focusing on different areas of expertise and proficiency. Welders often have a great deal of knowledge and skill in terms of metal fabrication, but their specialty will always be welding.
The Best of Both Worlds
At Grounded Industrial, our hardworking team of welders and metal fabricators is dedicated to providing exceptional results for our customers. Each member of our team takes pride in their area of expertise while remaining committed to learning new concepts and technological developments so we’re always on the leading edge. From heavy-duty industrial construction to delicate, decorative pieces for your home, you can trust the crew in our fabrication and welding shop to exceed your expectations with every project.