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Is There a Difference Between Welding and Metal Fabrication and Which is Best for the Environment?

In short, the answer is yes, and maybe.

Is there a difference in the process?

Though welding is one possible component of fabrication, fabrication entails several more processes, including welding. Fabrication is the process of making an item or project out of metal. This can include welding on a given project, but it might not. It often includes several other processes as well. Fabrication includes the whole process, from planning, laying out the designs, forming and finishing the project – including final paint and decoration in many cases.

Welding itself is the process or joining two pieces of ‘weld-able’ material together. The materials can be glass, metal or thermoplastics.

In a practical sense, most welders can fabricate, and most fabricators can weld. It is more a question of specialisation than of basic ability. Learn more about what metal fabrication is here.

What Key Tools do Fabricators Use?

Common tools used in the fabrication trade include abrasives, welding clamps, hand files, chipping hammers, soapstone, electrode holders, tungsten inert gas (TIG) consumables, adjustable wrenches, benders, consumable electrodes, cylinders with custom carts, vices and vice grips – and more!

Both fabricators and welders use similar cleaning supplies and tools, including organic solvent (like acetone or a mild alkaline solution, or a citrus-based degreaser without butoxyethanol), wire brushes, etc. Safety is, as always, very important. Not only is a welder or fabricator using high heat, electricity, and other potentially harmful effects, but the cleaners and solvents themselves can cause breathing and liver problems if proper protection is not used.

How are they manufactured differently?

Welding and sheet metal fabrication are often closely partnered on a project – often the same person does both, especially for smaller jobs and shops. Both trades use bending and assembling regularly, though fabrication can use a broader range of techniques as well. Welding can use oxy acetylene, TIG (the most common form in fab shops), and gas metal arc (GMAW) welding, whereas sheet metal fabrication can also use roll forming, hydroforming, stretching, shrinking, stamping, die cutting, spinning and finishing.

Resources and Further Reading


Jamie Turner

Environment and Garden Activist at Linlithgow Climate Challenge
I focus on improving the local environment.
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