Structural fabrication refers to the cutting, bending, and assembling of steel to create different products. During structural steel fabrication, several pieces of steel are combined together to form different structures of predefined sizes and shapes intended for assembly into buildings, industrial equipment, tools, and various other final products.
Steel fabrication is a special skill that requires experience transforming raw components into products that meet and exceed various standards and codes. Here is what goes into the fabrication of structural steel:
CUTTING STRUCTURAL STEEL
First, structural steel is cut by fabricators through sharing, sawing, or chiselling with different tools that include plasma torches, water jets, and laser cutters. This is just the first stage of structural steel fabrication that is typically done in a manufacturing facility that is closed and has abundant safety precautions in place to protect workers.
BENDING STRUCTURAL STEEL
The second step to fabricating structural steel is to bend the alloy.
Fabricators either hammer the steel manually or use machines. The decision on whether to do one or the other usually depends on how much repetitive bending the project requires.
The more repetitive bending needed, the more likely the fabricator will rely on machinery.
ASSEMBLING STRUCTURAL STEEL
The final step of creating a structure involves combining the different parts of steel together.
This is also usually done by welding—the application of heat to the steel parts to slowly join them together—but the pieces can also be bound together with adhesives or rivet construction.
To shape the pieces of steel into a structure, fabricators use equipment and design software to supervise the project. Regardless of the industry, most steel sections are produced in the facility and only afterward assembled on-site.
WHY WELD STRUCTURAL STEEL?
While welding can be central to combining steel structures together, it also serves an important second function of making steel stronger.
If it were not for welding and fabrication, we would not be able to rely on steel in high-pressure applications, for example, columns or I-beams in commercial buildings. Welding gives contractors a much safer way to connect beams without losing strength at the welded joints.
FOUNDATIONS & BUILDING MODIFICATIONS
Even further, foundations and building modifications rely on successful welding for their success. Welding frequently replaces rivet construction because it is superior when it comes to the strength and durability it lends structures.
Improvements in welding techniques have gone further lately in allowing for higher complexity and more style in architectural designs—and the steel itself is stronger and more dependable than it ever was.
Not only is welded steel safer, but it is also cost-effective because it is easier and less time-intensive to mold projects together that are designed with welded steel. And, with arc welding processes, the weight of structural steel projects can be reduced by at least a third.