Manufacturers, engineers, and mechanics across the world regularly work with metal. They either produce it, repair it, or use it in the building of the machines and structures that we see all around us. Metal is notoriously difficult to work with, given its chemical and physical properties. That’s why people often require training and knowledge before working with this material – in order to keep it robust and strong while bending it to our human will. In this complete guide, we’ll examine each step of the metal-working process to give you an understanding of how best to work with this important material.
Metals need to be produced and prepared before they’re used in manufacturing and engineering. When we dig metal out of the ground, we’re not extracting a pure piece of iron or steel. Actually, we’re plucking out hundreds of tons of ore, which is rock containing metallic elements. This ore needs to be processed to become usable in industry.
So, before you can even work with metal, you’ll need a mining firm or a company that refines and processes metals extracted by them, to make the pure metal that you’re after. Some are easier to create than others, which determines the price of the metal that you buy.
Cutting Down to Size
Next up, metal workers will need to cut their metal down to size. This involves a process of metal cutting that can be conducted in a variety of ways. For instance, smaller sheets of metal can be cut using mechanical tools or by saws that are equipped with blades that happily cut through hard metals. With larger slabs of metal, it’s important for manufacturers to have access to different, larger, and more powerful metal cutting techniques.
Chief among them is waterjet cutting machinery, which, as the name suggests, uses a pressurized jet of water to scythe through metal. There’s also laser cutting and plasma cutting, which achieve the same effect. These methods are all used to create shapes out of metal or to cut the right size of metal for the metal worker to eventually get to work.
After the cut has been made and the appropriate piece of metal is sourced, it’ll be time for the metal worker to begin their task. Whether that’s shaping the metal with heat or using a hammer to bend the metal with kinetic energy, the objective is to produce a final product that’s perfectly shaped to suit the product’s purpose.
Of course, many metalworkers consider themselves artists – and for good reason. This is a time-consuming and intricate task that can take many years of training to perfect. As such, it’s an art that few in the world can perform. There are other, more mechanized ways that metal is worked, too, including using robotic machinery and automation techniques. However, the wonderful artistry of metalworkers remains something that delights people from all over the world.
These three stages ensure that metal is found, refined, cut, and shaped into products for all of us to use or admire around the world.