Welding and sheet metal fabrication may seem like interchangeable terms, but the two are completely different.Welding is part of metal fabrication. People often mistake welding for metal fabrication due to their close association. Considering the nature of the two concepts, welding is a process while metal fabrication is a set of processes, the two are different in many ways. However, this article will take a closer look at the differences between welding and fabrication.

What Is Metal Fabrication?

Metalworking is the process of forming products from sheet metal. Metalworking is a step-by-step process of designing, cutting, bending, shaping and joining metals. The demands of metalworking go far beyond simply joining two metals together. Here are some of the processes involved in metalworking.

  • Punching: Punching is a forming process where shearing forces are applied to a die to punch a hole in the sheet.
  • Hydroforming: Hydroforming is a forming process that uses hydraulic pressure to press a die against a sheet. The die presses the sheet into the desired shape at room temperature. Hydroforming is generally used for ductile materials.
  • Roll forming: Roll forming is the process of bending a long sheet of metal to the desired cross section by passing it through strategically placed rollers.
  • Spinning: This process forms axially symmetrical parts by spinning a disc or tube on a high-speed chuck.
  • Stamping: Punching is a hot forming process where the die is pressed against the sheet metal to achieve the desired shape. The sheet metal is not cut but pressed into the desired shape.
  • Finishing: Finishing is the final but most important process in metal working. It involves applying an additional coating to the product to protect it from rust, improve the surface finish and make it stain resistant.
  • Die-Cutting: Die-cutting is a process of cutting a low strength material or a sheet metal by applying shear force on it with the help of a pressing die.

What Is Welding?

Welding is the process of joining two metals by temperature. It is also known as metal forming. It is a technique that uses filler material and heat to create a bond between two pieces of metal. Welding is one of the metalworking techniques. The applications of welding vary from metalworking workshops to automobile repair.

Various welding techniques are used according to industrial requirements. The different types of welding are detailed as follows:

  • Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding: MIG is also known as Gas Metal Arc Welding. In this technique, a MIG electrode is brought into contact with the metal workpiece to create an arc. The heat generated by the arc melts and joins the two pieces of metal.
  • Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding: A non-consumable TIG electrode is used to weld two pieces of metal together.
  • Plasma Arc Welding: Plasma arc welding is similar to TIG, but differs in that the electrode is placed in the welding gun and the plasma arc can be separated from the gas envelope.

Major differences between welding and metalworking

  • Use of different techniques: Sheet metal fabrication uses various techniques, including welding. Welding is a separate process used in fabrication. Welding itself has different techniques, but all fall under the same umbrella of joining sheet metal. On the other hand, sheet metal fabrication techniques also have different purposes. For example, cutting is for sizing, while bending is for shaping and so on.
  • Use of different tools: In sheet metal fabrication, fabricators usually follow a standard process that requires a specific set of tools. It starts with cutting the sheet to size. Fabricators use tools like lathes, grinders, drills, welders, rollers, etc., to shape and join sheets into products. Welding is a specific technique that utilizes various tools depending on the type of weld used. The most commonly used tools include welding tongs, welding rods, power supplies, auto-darkening helmets, etc.
  • Use of different skills: The two processes require different skills from the metal worker. Sheet metal fabrication is a bench top process. This means that the operator fixes the metalworking tools to the table and manipulates them according to the process being carried out on the workpiece. For example, if sheet metal is to be rolled, the function of the roll remains the same but the length, width and thickness must be adjusted according to the capabilities of the roll. However, welding is one of the manufacturing processes and welders only need a set of skills related to welding. They must be experienced in the selection of filler materials and types of welding techniques. Many mission critical applications, such as ASME pressure vessel fabrication, require certified welders because they understand the do’s and don’ts of welding this equipment.


However, the discussion on welding and metal fabrication ends here, emphasizing the importance of expert execution. Experienced fabricators must use metal fabrication techniques to achieve the desired results. This is why you should purchase these sheet metal fabrication services and related products from a reputable company such as PROTO MFG They provide the best quality metal fabrication tools and welding equipment to a wide range of customers.

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