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Career In Fabrication Technology


Fabrication Technology:

Fabrication is the process of making something from semi-finished or raw materials rather than from ready-made components. In other words, it is the process of making something from scratch rather than assembling something. The term also means a lie. For example, if I say “John’s story about the elephant was a fabrication,” I mean that it was a lie.

We use the term in scientific inquiry and academic research. The term, in this context, means the deliberate misrepresentation of research results by inventing facts, i.e., making up data.

In some jurisdictions, i.e., legal systems, the deliberate misrepresentation of research data is against the law.

“Manufacturing process in which an item is made from raw or semi-finished materials instead of being assembled from ready-made components or parts.”

Fabrication is the noun of the verb ‘to fabricate.’ To fabricate means to invent something with the aim of deceiving. It also means to construct or manufacture an industrial product.

Metal fabrication

Metal fabrication refers to the building of metal structures by assembling, bending, and cutting processes.

It is a value-added process that involves creating machines, parts, and structures from raw materials. A value-added process is one that adds value to a product and for which customers are willing to pay.

Fab shops bid on jobs, which are usually based on engineering drawings. If they win the contract, it means they build the product.

These fab shops offer additional value to customers because they save money. For example, they do not need to use lots of employees to find vendors of different services.

According to Wikipedia:

“Metal fabrication jobs usually start with shop drawings including precise measurements, then move to the fabrication stage and finally to the installation of the final project.

Etymology of fabrication

Etymology is the study of where words came from, i.e., their origins. The study also includes finding out how the meanings of words have changed.

The term with the meaning “manufacturing, construction” emerged in the English language in the fifteenth century. According to etymonline.com, the term came from the Middle French word Fabrication.

The Middle French word came from the Latin word Fabricationem (nominative fabricatio), meaning “a structure, construction, a making.”

It was not until 1790 that it also meant “lying, forgery, falsehood.”


What Do They Do?

Fabrication is the act of taking raw stock material and turning it into a part for use in an assembly process. There are many different types of fabrication processes. The most common are

  1. Cutting

  2. Folding

  3. Machining

  4. Punching

  5. Shearing

  6. Stamping

  7. Welding

  8. Additive Manufacturing

Welding in a Fabrication Cell


Let’s look at the types of fabrication processes in greater detail here:

  1. Cutting. There are many ways to cut nowadays. The old standby is the saw. Others now include plasma torches, water jets, and lasers. There is a wide range of complexity and price, with some machines costing in the millions.

  2. Folding. Some parts need to be bent. The most common method is a press brake. It has a set of dies that pinches the metal to form a crease. This operation can only be performed in very specific cases due to the range of movement of the part during the bending process and the possible shape of the dies. Designing for Lean manufacturing, though, can help prevent complex shapes that slow down production. Sometimes using two different types of fabrication processes or two different pieces fastened together work better than one complicated piece.

  3. Machining. This is the process of removing metal from a piece of material. It might be done on a lathe, where the material rotates against a cutting tool, or in some other cutting machine where a rotating tool is moved in a variety of ways against a stationary piece. Drills fall into this latter category. The range of motion of the cutting head is defined by the number of axes (i.e. a 3-axis machine).

  4. Punching. Punching is the act of a punch and a die forming a ‘scissor’ effect on a piece of metal to make a hole in it. Obviously, the punch and die must be the same shape and size of the desired hole. In some cases, the main piece of material is kept, as in when holes are added for fasteners. In other cases, the piece that is removed is the desired product-this is called ‘blanking’.

  5. Shearing. Shearing is the process of making a long cut on a piece of metal. It is, in effect, just like the action of one of those paper cutters with the long chop-handle. This is done on sheet metal.

  6. Stamping. Stamping is very similar to punching, except the material is not cut. The die is shaped to make a raised portion of material rather than penetrating.

  7. Welding. Welding is the act of joining two pieces of metal together. A variety of types of welding exist for use in different applications and for the range of metals used in manufacturing.

  8. Additive Manufacturing. This is a relatively new technology. In effect, a machine layers material to form a part. It functions similarly to a three-dimensional printer that produces components in plastic (or other similar materials) but can be done at much larger scale and with more varied materials than typical printers. They can even be big enough to produce entire houses. The geometry of the component produced can be limited due to the effect of gravity on the fluid materials before they become rigid.

There are many other types of fabrication processes that are less common than the ones in the list above There are also constantly new types of fabrication methods being developed (such as additive manufacturing listed above).


Fabrication processes are particularly well matched to Lean. The motion of operators, their interaction with machines, and the need to manage inventory are all right in Lean’s power alley.

Fabrication processes are particularly well suited to implementing jidoka (autonomation) and hanedashi devices (autoejectors). Both of those devices are prerequisites of the chaku-chaku line (load-load).


But there is one area where Lean can struggle. Some extremely large machines are well matched to the products they are making. But far too many big machines with too long of a changeover time drive up inventory and promote overproduction. It is best to ‘right-size’ machines and put them into work cells if possible. That helps create flow.

The biggest impediment to making flow in a fabrication shop is the preponderance of large, multi-function machines that take a long time to change between parts. This drives up the lot size, creating inventory. It also means that a machine may be used to produce many different components for several product lines. Deciding where to put it is a challenge. If you include it in flow of one line, even the biggest line, it would be a problem for all the other lines.

The task in this case is first and foremost to reduce the changeover time so that the machine does not run large lots. At that point, you can keep reducing the amount of inventory that the machine creates. The second task is to get away from buying large, expensive machines when smaller, dedicated ones will suffice. In many cases, a small machine can be automated with jidoka and hanedashi to make their efficiency rival that of large CNC machines.

One challenge with linking fabrication and assembly processes tends to be the painting process. In many cases, parts leave the fabrication shop to go out for painting or go right to an in-house paint center. In either case, the flow is disrupted, and the delays cause more inventory. Again, use the CI tools at your disposal to minimize this impact—reduce cure time, reduce the changeover, make smaller batches, go to smaller, dedicated paint booths. Do what you can to keep coming closer to flow.


Requirements;

There are various requirements for a Fabrication Technologist that they need to fulfil to pursue a career in being a Fabrication Technologist. The requirements are classified under three heads –


  1. EDUCATIONAL AND GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS:

Metal fabricators need to have a high school diploma or GED in order to pursue even entry-level positions. Metal fabricators may also have either a related one-year certificate or technical diploma from a community college or technical school. An associate's degree in metal fabrication or additional vocational training may be required for advanced or more highly skilled metal fabricating work. Metal fabricators study how to create and produce metal parts, how to operate machinery and necessary tools, safety procedures, and welding.


List of Fabrication Courses Blueprints

A blueprints course is one of the most basic classes in a fabrication program. Students learn how to read blueprints and technical drawings for structural fabrications and machines. This course explains the different welding symbols used in blueprints. Skills are developed in extracting a materials list, mapping out dimensions and projecting material needs or dimensions. Students also develop skills in computer-aided drafting and design techniques.


Layout and Development

This course is for fabrication students already familiar with reading blueprints. Students learn how to convert information on blueprints into actual works made of metal or other materials. Skills developed include making metal projects to scale (based off of models), forming jigs and constructing shapes. This class is given in part lecture, part lab format. Time is also spent studying quality control topics.


Welding and Fabrication Safety

Welders and fabricators work with metal, heat sources and cutting tools. As such, it is necessary to be aware of safety precautions and the correct way to dispose of materials. A welding and fabrication safety course takes students through OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements. Skills are developed in the safe handling of fabrication materials, equipment and tools. This course also covers protective gear such as eyewear and what to do in case of emergencies.

Punching and Shearing Systems

Punching and shearing machines produce weldment (metal parts) to be used in fabrication or development of structural parts. This course is intended to teach students how to use a power shear and punch. Skills are developed in the set-up and maintenance of fabrication machines, as well as the different methods used to cut metal. A punching and shearing systems course may involve field trips to industrial locations so that students can understand the variety of cutting machines used in the field.


Fabrication Tools

A fabrication tools course introduces students to the various tools used in welding and fabrication careers. Students complete hands-on training using electric and air-powered tools. Skills are developed in assembling, die cutting, grinding and sanding metal parts. Students work with metal chipping, shearing, punching, drilling and polishing tools as well. This course is taught through project assignments. Students learn through practical skill-building.

2. SKILLS:


Metal fabricators need strong reading and math skills. They also need knowledge of metallurgy, welding, and the ability to read and interpret blueprints. Good communication skills are a must, since most metal fabricators work on teams and need to work well with others on their team.

3. KNOWLEDGE:


Fabrication focuses on the assembly of raw materials (typically metal) to build cars, buildings or other industrial structures. Because fabrication is useful in many fields, the topic may be taught in programs such as automotive technology, metal fabrication welding, and fashion (for jewelry fabrication). Programs typically range from eighteen to twenty-four months, depending on the specialty and education level.

Here are some common concepts you'll find in these courses:

  • Interpreting blueprints

  • Computer-aided drafting

  • Quality control

  • Protective gear

  • Tools

  • Fabrication techniques

  • Machine maintenance


Salary;

The national average salary for a Fabrication Engineer is ₹20,981 in India. Filter by location to see Fabrication Engineer salaries in your area. Salary estimates are based on 5 salaries submitted anonymously to Glassdoor by Fabrication Engineer employees.


Job Outlook;

Fabrication is the act of taking raw stock material and turning it into a part for use in an assembly process. There are many different types of fabrication processes. The most common are

  1. Cutting

  2. Folding

  3. Machining

  4. Punching

  5. Shearing

  6. Stamping

  7. Welding

  8. Additive Manufacturing

Welding in a Fabrication Cell

Let’s look at the types of fabrication processes in greater detail here:

  1. Cutting. There are many ways to cut nowadays. The old standby is the saw. Others now include plasma torches, water jets, and lasers. There is a wide range of complexity and price, with some machines costing in the millions.

  2. Folding. Some parts need to be bent. The most common method is a press brake. It has a set of dies that pinches the metal to form a crease. This operation can only be performed in very specific cases due to the range of movement of the part during the bending process and the possible shape of the dies. Designing for Lean manufacturing, though, can help prevent complex shapes that slow down production. Sometimes using two different types of fabrication processes or two different pieces fastened together work better than one complicated piece.

  3. Machining. This is the process of removing metal from a piece of material. It might be done on a lathe, where the material rotates against a cutting tool, or in some other cutting machine where a rotating tool is moved in a variety of ways against a stationary piece. Drills fall into this latter category. The range of motion of the cutting head is defined by the number of axes (i.e. a 3-axis machine).

  4. Punching. Punching is the act of a punch and a die forming a ‘scissor’ effect on a piece of metal to make a hole in it. Obviously, the punch and die must be the same shape and size of the desired hole. In some cases, the main piece of material is kept, as in when holes are added for fasteners. In other cases, the piece that is removed is the desired product-this is called ‘blanking’.

  5. Shearing. Shearing is the process of making a long cut on a piece of metal. It is, in effect, just like the action of one of those paper cutters with the long chop-handle. This is done on sheet metal.

  6. Stamping. Stamping is very similar to punching, except the material is not cut. The die is shaped to make a raised portion of material rather than penetrating.

  7. Welding. Welding is the act of joining two pieces of metal together. A variety of types of welding exist for use in different applications and for the range of metals used in manufacturing.

  8. Additive Manufacturing. This is a relatively new technology. In effect, a machine layers material to form a part. It functions similarly to a three-dimensional printer that produces components in plastic (or other similar materials) but can be done at much larger scale and with more varied materials than typical printers. They can even be big enough to produce entire houses. The geometry of the component produced can be limited due to the effect of gravity on the fluid materials before they become rigid.

There are many other types of fabrication processes that are less common than the ones in the list above. There are also constantly new types of fabrication methods being developed (such as additive manufacturing listed above).

Fabrication processes are particularly well matched to Lean. The motion of operators, their interaction with machines, and the need to manage inventory are all right in Lean’s power alley.

Fabrication processes are particularly well suited to implementing jidoka (autonomation) and hanedashi devices (autoejectors). Both of those devices are prerequisites of the chaku-chaku line (load-load).

But there is one area where Lean can struggle. Some extremely large machines are well matched to the products they are making. But far too many big machines with too long of a changeover time drive up inventory and promote overproduction. It is best to ‘right-size’ machines and put them into work cells if possible. That helps create flow.


The biggest impediment to making flow in a fabrication shop is the preponderance of large, multi-function machines that take a long time to change between parts. This drives up the lot size, creating inventory. It also means that a machine may be used to produce many different components for several product lines. Deciding where to put it is a challenge. If you include it in flow of one line, even the biggest line, it would be a problem for all the other lines.

The task in this case is first and foremost to reduce the changeover time so that the machine does not run large lots. At that point, you can keep reducing the amount of inventory that the machine creates. The second task is to get away from buying large, expensive machines when smaller, dedicated ones will suffice. In many cases, a small machine can be automated with jidoka and hanedashi to make their efficiency rival that of large CNC machines.

One challenge with linking fabrication and assembly processes tends to be the painting process. In many cases, parts leave the fabrication shop to go out for painting or go right to an in-house paint center. In either case, the flow is disrupted, and the delays cause more inventory. Again, use the CI tools at your disposal to minimize this impact—reduce cure time, reduce the changeover, make smaller batches, go to smaller, dedicated paint booths. Do what you can to keep coming closer to flow.


Continuous Improvement in Fabrication

Fabrication processes are generally target-rich environments for continuous improvement. There are great chances for visual management and 5S to make processes run more smoothly. There are immense opportunities to reduce setup time to help lower lot sizes. Kanban helps with knowing what to make—especially on the extremely large machines. Right-sizing machines can help make flow better—smaller machines fit in smaller spaces that can be set up as dedicated lines for higher volume products.

Fabrication processes tend to have another great opportunity in continuous improvement—the working environment. ‘Fab’ processes tend to be hot and grimy. Small metal shavings are everywhere, as are coolants and lubricants. Parts are often heavy. Smoke and debris are in the air. Safety concerns abound. To top it off, machines are unforgiving. They are designed to work with metal—hands and other body parts don’t even slow them down. They are extremely loud. Unless you have experienced it, is it hard to imagine the volume of the rapid punching of a piece of quarter inch sheet metal. In short, fabrication processes often contain the lion’s share of the dirty, dumb, and dangerous work in a company.

Continuous improvement in general, and Lean specifically, provide you with a great avenue to focus making your fabrication processes less disrespectful to your team.


Take a close look at your fabrication processes and identify all the issues that pose safety risks or that are generally frustrating to your team. Rank order the problems. (Note: The safety issues should be at the top of the list.)

Begin applying your Lean toolkit to removing these issues. It might sound a bit like a haphazard approach, but the goal is one that aligns with the big picture. You are attempting to build support for the problem-solving processes that continuous improvement demands. Once team members see that there is some benefit to them, they will be more willing to take on the bigger projects that improve flow.

Those types of changes—running smaller lots and arranging by product line rather than function—generate much more resistance. Having a solid track record of success makes people more accepting of change.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these other options in metal work for your career:

Welder, Cutter, Solderer and Brazer

Learning their skills in high school, postsecondary programs or while on the job, these workers basically join or weld metal parts of various types using specialized equipment. From 2016-2026, the BLS predicts an average employment growth of 6% for these occupations that paid an annual median salary of $40,240 in 2017.


Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Maintenance Worker and Millwright

Mechanics and maintenance workers repair and maintain machines used in industry, while millwrights install, move and repair machines at construction sites and in factories. Training for these jobs varies from a high school diploma to 4-year apprenticeships or associate's degree programs, depending on the area of specialization. An average growth of jobs of 7% was forecast by the BLS for these jobs in general from 2016-2026.


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