How Custom Part Fabrication Works

Imagine metal fabrication as the haute couture of the manufacturing world—each part tailor-made to fit its application like a glove. From design to material to precision, metal fabrication takes the vision of a designer and brings it to life through a series of processes. From CNC machining to casting and forging, this specialized craft transforms robust metal into functional artistry that stands up to the toughest quality control inspections. Whether your brand is looking for metal parts for a new project or to revamp existing equipment, it pays to understand how the process works so you can work with fabrication experts and ensure your projects have the best chance of success.

The first step in the process is strategic design. This is where the concept of a product literally begins taking shape, as sketches and mood boards are drawn and block or basic 3D models are created. At this stage, the brand and fabricator come into alignment on where the design is creatively, how it will be used, and how feasible it is to make the piece happen. Budgets, timelines, and transportation/installation concerns are also discussed.

This is followed by a bid or purchase order, production planning, and quality planning. Once the necessary details are set in place, component fabrication starts, beginning with cutting, which is often done using a laser cutter, plasma cutter, or punch press. This is a precise procedure that follows the CAD design to ensure accuracy. The thickness of the material may affect cutting tolerances, but even the thickest of materials can be cut precisely.

Depending on the desired application, other steps in the process may include forming, welding, and machining. This is where the nuances of metal fabrication become apparent, as each process has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, welding is strong in welded joints but can’t bend the way a punch press can, so you must decide what is most important for your particular project.

Once your fabricated components are ready, finishing options can be applied to add protection and give the final product a professional look. From powder coating to zinc plating, there is a wide array of finishes that can be used to elevate the design and functionality of your metal parts.

When choosing a custom metal fabricator, it is important to do your research and find out what their past clients have said about them. You can also ask for samples and visit the fabrication shop in person to get a better sense of their capabilities. Lastly, be sure to follow the best practices in the industry so that you can get the most out of your metal part manufacturing experience.