The Differences Between Welding and Metal Fabrication

The Differences Between Welding and Metal Fabrication

The Differences Between Welding and Metal Fabrication

While welding and metal fabrication are related, they’re not the same. Welding is a form of metal fabrication, but not all metal fabrication involves welding. Here are the differences between welding and metal fabrication.

What Defines Welding?

Welding is a process that joins separate parts to make a single whole. Welding typically uses heat to melt metals or consumable rods that fill in the space between two pieces of metal to fuse them together. Other forms of welding use electricity and gas to heat and fuse two metal pieces together.

Welding is an essential part of many metal fabrication processes. Welders take metal parts that have been cut, bent, stamped, or formed into parts that are meant to fit together and join them permanently to make a bigger piece.

Metal Fabrication

Metal fabrication is an umbrella term that defines the entire lifecycle of producing a metal product. Metal fabrication can involve everything from obtaining raw materials to cutting, bending, casting, stamping, forging, extruding, drawing, and bending. Welding may also be a step within that process. These processes are used to form things like pipes, tubes, beams, and parts for machinery, autos, planes, trains, and trucks.

Architects use fabricated metal to create the internal support structure of buildings, but they may also use it as decorative or sculptural elements on the exterior. Buildings by Frank Gehry and bridges by Santiago Calatrava are famous for innovative uses of fabricated metal to create curving, soaring, and movable structures.


Welding requires different skills and personal protective gear than other forms of metal fabrication. Welders usually use handheld equipment. Often, welders go to the workpiece, traveling to work on pipelines or oil rigs rather than working on metal in a shop.

Welders have specialized knowledge about removing combustible gases from pipes so that they can work on them safely. Their personal protective gear is designed to protect them from heat and the intense light their tools can create.

Metal fabrication workers now typically use computers to guide large machinery like hydraulic tandem press brakes or beam coping machines to bend, cut, roll, stamp, or drill large metal components. Some of the machinery they use requires a controlled environment and specialized ventilation. Metal fabrication workers need eye protection that shields them from laser light and clothing that protects them from potentially harmful substances.

Both welders and machinists are critical to the metal fabrication process. The differences between welding and metal fabrication boil down to when and where workers perform their tasks and the types of tools they use. These individuals participate in the process at different stages to create the metal components that manufacturers, engineers, architects, construction companies, and automakers need.

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