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    Table of Contents

    There can be little debate on why steel is used in construction, aerospace, manufacturing and other industries. And hence, it’s important to understand the process of steel manufacturing and steel fabrication. Steel metal can be shaped into bars, channels, beams, angles, coils, sheets and many other forms, and that’s where steel fabrication work comes into play. The range of fabrication and erection of steel structures is wide and incredible and it’s fascinating to learn about and understand them.

    Let us learn more about steel fabrication meaning, processes involves, types and application in business.

    What is steel fabrication?

    Steel fabrication is a process whereby raw steel is transformed into different objects/products using specific techniques. Steel fabrication work is commonly used in construction and assembly. Steel can be bent, cut, moulded or joined to arrive at the final product.

    Example of steel metal fabrication:

    Application of stainless steel fabrication in making surgical devices and hypodermic needles, cutlery and kitchenware, handrails and countertops, refrigerators, microwave ovens, etc.

    Steel metal fabrication techniques require special skills, training, and experience and is carried out by experts. There can be little room for errors or wastage during the process. Some of the methods of steel fabrication are:

    • Machining: Parts of steel is shaved off using a specialised equipment like drills, lathes, and mills, to give it the desired form and shape.
    • Cutting: Different methods such as shearing, band saws, etc. using high pressure water and precision to cut a specific part of steel.
    • Welding: The fabrication method to make a single piece by joining different pieces of steel together or bending existing pieces.

    The steel fabrication process – How it is done

    Steel fabricating is a complex process and requires specialists to do it. Steel fabricators use the process to produce different types of steel products such as: ladders, universal beams and columns, pipe racks, platforms, skids, and more.

    In a previous article, we have already discussed the process of structural steel fabrication. Here we will take a look at the process of steel fabrication in general (and fabrication for stainless steel).

    1. Design and Planning

    Before starting with the actual steel fabrication process, it’s required to plan the design and specifications of the end product to reduce scope of errors and wastage. Software such as AutoCAD are popularly used to keep the drafting process seamless, technically accurate and quick. Skilled draftsmen can try different design concepts based on custom requirements without actually working with iron and steel.

    Planning also involves the draftsmen to prepare the bills of material based on raw materials required for fabrication. Based on requirements, the purchase and procurement team will place the order and buy steel online or offline. The preparation stage as such involves: finalising drawings based on dimensions and features, determining a schedule and timelines, identifying the precautions to be taken, collating the raw materials required for fabrication, having checks and quality tests, and more.

    A more reliable and convenient way to buy quality steel at the best prices is to connect with us at Tata nexarc. You can get steel from verified sellers, get easy credit options, save time and effort, and get doorstep. Products offered: coils, sheets, corrugated sheets, galvanised products, etc.

    2. Marking

    Marking is the next step involved in the fabrication and erection of steel structures. Using various tools, small measurement marks are made on steel to facilitate cutting and fabrication.

    It’s also important to add the necessary protective coating to the workpiece to avoid steel corrosion. This ensures that the final product is not affected.

    3. Cutting and Drilling

    The next key step in the steel fabrication process is cutting. As the name suggests, cutting involves removing the excess scrap and chips from the steel workpiece. The excess that is removed from the workpiece is usually sent for steel scrap recycling.

    The main activities/methods involved with cutting are: shear cutting, wedge-action, and abrasion.

    In certain cases, especially when working with steel sheets, cutting can be done precisely so that the extra pieces can further be used for fabricating other products.

    4. Bending

    In the bending process, pressure is usually applied between two points to bend or curve the metal. Using a roller bender or press breaking equipment, sheets, bars, or plates are deformed or bent. Air bending, coining and roll bending are the most commonly used bending processes (based on the volume of pressure applied).

    Steel channels, bars, and rounded sheets are the most common output of the bending process.

    At this point, the main cutting and bending of steel is done. Now, the steel metal fabrication process will require the assembling all the different pieces to form a whole.

    This involves different fabrication methods depending on the requirements. The popular methods used in fabrication process are: welding, bolting and screwing.

    5. Welding and bolting/screwing

    Welding, bolting, and screwing are all joining techniques used in the fabricating steel metal.

    In the welding process, parts of the metal are joined or fused together. First, heat is applied to melt and join the parts, and then it is cooled for the parts to fuse together. An electric arc is used to generate heat for the melting process. The weld pool (molten metal) created in the process requires protection to prevent contamination from atmospheric elements.

    The bolting process is at times used as an alternative to the welding process, especially when working with structural steel. In the bolting process, holes are drilled in the metal. Alternatively, punching can also be used in case of less metal thickness. Fasteners are then inserted into holes to join them. This is a temporary join as the bolts can be removed when required. Moreover, considering bolds can expand/contract in time, it’s essential to check they are properly fastened.

    6. Finishing and quality control

    Once the major fabrication tasks are completed, it’s necessary to perform quality checks. This stage involves adding some coating to keep the steel structure protected against corrosion and rust (e.g., stainless steel rust) and also for aesthetics.

    Surface cleaning is also carried out to improve the steel’s appearance and durability. This step removes all the oil, grease and marks that the steel might have during the entire fabrication process. This is usually followed up by surface treatments such as painting, anodising and galvanising to make the surface smooth and clean.

    Quality checks moreover are required to ensure the steel fabrication work is done as per initial specifications and requirements and accuracy. This may include visual inspections, mechanical checks, and NBT testing.

    7. Installation and Transportation

    The final stage of steel metal fabrication work involves installation and transportation of the finished steel product. When working with steel fabrication companies, it’s recommended to check if the company undertakes transportation or it needs to be self organised.

    The finished steel product is usually moved using conveyors and cranes (or crane girders). For temporary lifting of products, chains or lifting brackets are the preferred option. In general, this is a complex process and there are safety guidelines in place that steel fabricators must adhere to during the process.

    Transportation is a critical task. In India, steel transportation is usually undertaken via rail transport due to the nature of goods. Also, in many cases, since steel plants are located in specific regions, road transportation adds to overall costs. Also, steel products require special packaging to ensure there’s minimum damage incurred during transportation.

    Stainless steel fabrication process

    Stainless steel is a versatile metal and different forms of fabrication processes can be used to give new shape to stainless steel objects. Listed below are the common fabrication processes for stainless steel:

    • Work hardening
    • Machining
    • Welding
    • Soft soldering
    • Silver soldering

    Also read: Steel vs stainless steel – How they are different

    Steel fabrication HSN code

    In a previous article we have discussed the IS code for steel that outlines the main guidelines that need to be followed during design, fabrication and construction work done using steel. In the same respect, when it comes to steel fabricating, there are HSN codes that are important.

    HNS or Harmonised System of Nomenclature is uniform number that is used to name, classify and identify over 5000 products across the world. This brings uniformity, enables to calculate GST and facilitates international trade. More than 200 countries worldwide use the HSN code as international method of naming, classifying and identifying products to calculate GST.

    Let us take a look at the list of HSN code for steel fabrication work.

    HSN Code

    Description

    GST

    HSN Code 7306 Iron or steel tubes, pipes and hollow objects 18%
    HSN Code 7308 Iron or steel structures and parts of structures 18%
    HSN Code 7325 Iron or steel objects, or cast 18%
    HSN Code 8419 Machinery/plant and laboratory equipment for the treatment of materials 5%

    Steel fabricating work: Industry applications and uses

    Steel is a durable, strong and flexible metal and it has its application across industries. It is also versatile and affordable and long-lasting when compared to other metals.

    Let’s take a look at some of the popular industries where steel is used and how.

    1. Construction sector

    Steel fabrication services are most commonly availed in the construction sector. The role of steel in construction has been phenomenal and the sector by and large is one of the highest users of steel metal in general (e.g., steel frames in construction, steel plates in construction, etc.). It is used in the construction of tall commercial and residential building, bridges and dams, roadways, etc. It’s strong, durable, lightweight and affordable making it a preferred material. It can also withstand strong temperatures and climatic impacts. Moreover, the government is focusing more steel policies to drive its usage across industries.

    2. Energy sector

    The energy sector is no stranger to steel fabrication work. Several steel fabrication companies work on projects for enterprises in gas, solar power, wind and nuclear energy sector.

    • Steel is used to build the solar panel structures and the tanks and pumps required to store and distribute solar energy.
    • Steel is used to build wind turbines as it adds to its non-corrosive characteristics can enable it to last long.
    • Stainless steel fabrication work is required for building valves, pipes, valves etc. that are non-corrosive for geothermal energy.
    • Steel is used for building transmission towers for electric supply, as fabrication allows steel to be shaped as required.
    • Steel plates and drilling equipment are used for creating oil wells.

    3. Shipbuilding industry

    Steel fabrication work can also be found in the shipbuilding sector. Steel is a strong, durable and lightweight metal and steel fabrication products are widely used in manufacturing large machine parts in ships. Fabrication for ships requires specialised skills and businesses are usually particular when hiring steel fabricators or steel fabricating companies for building the integral ship building components. Ships have specific requirements, and even a basic part like the hull might call for an unique design, features and dimensions.

    4. Automotive sector

    The use of steel in automotive sector and transportation makes this another sector that requires distinct steel fabricating work. Whether it is for repairing vehicles or building the body of a car or truck, metal fabrication work has immense potential and application in the sector.

    When it comes to transportation, especially public transportation, heavy-duty metal fabrication is commonplace. Weather it is for aerospace or railways, there’s steel fabricating services required for building coaches, ladders and gates. It must also be noted that this is high-precision and accuracy work that requires agility and excellence.

    Steel fabricators: The way ahead

    The growth of the Indian steel sector has given rise to the number of steel fabricators in the country. The rise in the volume of construction work has accelerated industrial and structural steel fabrication work.

    Listed below are some of the popular companies in steel fabricating work for you to refer to:

    • Global Steel Company
    • Gammon India Limited
    • Caliber Tech Solutions
    • Siddhivinayak Laser Fabrication
    • Apex Buildsys Ltd.
    • National Power Engineering Company
    • Prk Fabricators
    • Bhoomi Fabricating Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
    • Steelfab Industries
    • Lancer Laser Tech Ltd.
    • Tiger Steel Engineering India

    Sohini Banerjee

    Sohini is a seasoned content writer with 12 years’ experience in developing marketing and business content across multiple formats. At Tata nexarc, she leverages her skills in crafting curated content on the Indian MSME sector, steel procurement, and logistics. In her personal time, she enjoys reading fiction and being up-to-date on trends in digital marketing and the Indian business ecosystem.