What Are The Differences Between Metal Fabrication and Machining?

Metal Fabrication and Machining

Understanding the processes of machining and fabrication is critical when selecting the manufacturing company for your next project. Fabrication and machining are very different and not all companies have the capabilities to complete both tasks. Metal machining is the process of shaping the metal while fabrication manipulates metal by adding or removing materials. Each of these manufacturing methods requires different tools and skill sets to complete properly.


What is Precision Metal Fabrication?

Precision metal fabrication emphasizes critical accuracy in manufacturing to achieve the tightest tolerances.

PFI What is Metal Fabrication

In utilizing precision metal fabrication, the accuracy that is maintained allows for greater repeatability for mass production and eliminates the necessity of secondary production costs. Precision metal fabrication also eliminates excessive waste.

Several common techniques are used in precision metal fabrication, ranging from:

  • Cutting
  • Welding
  • Bending
  • finishing metals

In certain applications, metals can also be stretched and shrunk. The process of precision metal fabrication that PFI’s expert machinists follow is outlined through several key steps, that follow the material from start to finish, from design to packaging.

Products that are manufactured through precision metal fabrication can be found in a multitude of industries. Common usages for these components are in the aerospace, medical, automotive, robotics, defense, and more.

What is Metal Machining?

Metal machining is the process of taking blocks of raw material and removing the excess material until the desired product’s size and shape is achieved. Several types of metal machining methods can be deployed in the manufacturing process, depending on the product design and specifications in size, shape, and finish. The integration of technology into metal machining has led the industry toward producing components of extreme accuracy.

PFI What Is Metal MachiningCNC metal machining is computer-controlled and has become a common means of obtaining great precision and ease of mass production. The low tolerances and intricacies called for in metal machining can be achieved through a number of methods. CNC metal machining can complete the following tasks:

  • Milling
  • Turning
  • Boring or reaming
  • Grinding or honing
  • Shaping
  • Engraving

Aside from CNC metal machining, other processes to remove material in manufacturing include traditional mechanical machining, chemical machining, and thermal machining. The plastic machining of metal is also used for a variety of applications. Some examples of products created by metal machining are:

  • Production tooling and fixtures
  • Machinery components
  • Bearings and bearing housings
  • Fixtures, tables, and assemblies


Fabrication and Machining in the Metal Manufacturing Process

Fabrication and machining are both methods of constructing or producing products or components. However, there is significant differentiation between the two, and these methods are often separate in industry. Recent supply chain demands and interruptions have led to a collaboration of the two processes to create a broader system of metal manufacturing. As some materials and components became increasingly difficult to obtain, proactive manufacturers have begun to adopt metal fabrication within their operations. As PFI expert machinists create products from raw materials and fabrication assembles pre-manufactured parts to create its final products, many companies are discovering improved efficiency by intertwining these methods.

In many metal fabrication facilities, machinists are now being utilized to create custom tools and components on-site and have created more effective production. In some cases, manufacturers are opening production to both systems to enable more efficient customization for their clients. The demand for customization and precision in multicomponent assemblies can be remedied by collaborative metal production.


Metal Fabrication with Cryogenic Materials

Fabricating with cryogenic materials can pose several challenges and require special considerations when manufacturing products that can withstand extremely low temperatures. It is essential to maintain the highest industry standards for the production of cryogenic components. Cryogenic technology is rapidly being developed and utilized in a wide spectrum of industries, including aerospace machining, and military fabrications. Components that are manufactured for cryogenic applications are valves, pumps, compressors, nozzles, shafts, and panels. Due to the critical applications and volatility associated with cryogenics, components manufactured from these cryogenic materials must be non-corrosive and have superior thermal stability. Typically these materials can be composed of a multitude of specialized metals such as Alloy 625 (Inconel), stainless steel alloys, and titanium.

Choose PFI for Your Fabrication and Machining Projects

When it comes time for your next metal fabrication project, partner with the team of experts at PFI Advanced Equipment Manufacturing. Since 1946, PFI has become an industry leader in custom metal fabrication and machining. Our highly skilled machinists combined with our latest cutting-edge technology can design and create your custom components at the highest industry standards. Contact us to learn how PFI Advanced Equipment Manufacturing can fabricate your next project.

(610) 856-7550

Brian Schubel

Brian Schubel is an accomplished Shop Manager and Machinist who began his career in 1985 with Albert Seisler Machine Corp. In January 2006, PFI acquired the Seisler business, and Brian became a PFI employee. In his 38+ years tenure in the shop he has be known as “the Mayor,” Brian has always been the go-to guy for all issues related to machining, fabrication and assembly. Other employees have relied on Brian’s knowledge and experience to guide them in their daily activities.