Guide to Structural Steel Fabrication

September 10, 2021 | Categorised in:

flame cutting a piece of steel


It can be argued that structural steel fabrication is one of the most important and critical processes on the planet right now. With the amount of steel used in buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure combined with the billions of people that rely on it, structural steel allows our society to operate and grow.

What is structural steel fabrication?

So what is the fabrication of structural steel exactly? Historically, metal fabrication was very common with elements like copper before being replaced by alloys (mixes of metals) like bronze. These would be ways of forming the metals, primarily into money (coins), weapons, or art and statues. Nowadays, the fabrication process is unsurprisingly much more complex. While it is still forming metal (in this case, structural steel) into the dimensions and shape that you need, we now have robotics and production lines to help us churn out more material. This could be tee splitting a steel beam, steel coil slitting, flame cutting plates, and much more.

Who uses structural steel?

So who uses the structural steel once it’s been fabricated? As we mentioned earlier, buildings, vehicles, and infrastructure all use steel extensively for their projects and production. More specifically, the Agriculture, Construction, Automotive, and Oil & Gas industries use structural steel for everything from car frame safety to oil storage tanks to building frames. Beyond that, almost every facet of our lives involves steel somewhere; power generation, transportation, heavy equipment, infrastructure, and more all use steel for a strong, safe, and reliable foundation and network.

Process steps

Now that we understand what structural steel fabrication is and how crucial it is to a variety of industries around us, how does it work? While it will depend on the situation, desired steel shape and size, company, and much more, we’ve outlined the basic steps that are generally accepted as the framework of the process below.

Cutting

The first major part of the fabrication process, this is done to start getting the steel closer to its final shape and size. By cutting off large amounts of excess material with tools such as laser cutters, plasma torches, water jets, etc. it reduces the amount of work needed later in the process to refine the metal’s form. Because of the potential danger of working around these tools, the manufacturing facilities also need considerable amounts of safety measures and precautions.

Bending

After cutting, the steel is bent and shaped closer to what the desired final product is. This could be a very quick process or it could take much longer if repeated bends are required. While some manufacturers prefer the traditional and manual way with a hammer, this isn’t practical with steel shapes that demand several bends or where time is a serious constraint. Instead, using a machine such as a cornice brake or rollers is much more efficient and likely.

Assembling/welding

The final major step in the process is assembling the various components together for the final product. This is almost always done on-site and can be done by welding, using adhesive, or riveting depending on the project. The end result is hopefully the final product that the customer expected and the fabrication process is complete.

Structural steel fabrication cost estimation

The price of steel fabrication depends heavily on the project and the best way to get a better idea of cost is to talk to your supplier. The complexity of the steel’s design can have a huge impact on the number of pieces, different shapes, type of equipment needed, and much more that can swing prices significantly. All steel is not the same either — there are many different types of steel that can change price depending on things like carbon content and corrosion resistance (stainless steel). Even factors like your distance from the fabricator’s plant and time to completion can impact the price of your steel.

Get all the structural steel you need

No matter what kind of structural steel you need, our massive inventory is always ready to ship to get your plans started quickly. If you’re in the market for high-quality steel and need it quickly, Service Steel Warehouse can supply it. Get in touch and request a quote today.