Metal fabrication refers to the processes of heating, pounding, compressing, cutting, bending, twisting, welding, polishing, machining and assembling various metals – such as alloy steels and brass – as well as raw material forms – such as sheet and bar stock – into small, large and heavy components or objects. The created objects can include everything from musical instruments to car parts, fuel tanks, military equipment, custom gates, household fixtures and so much more. Whether it is tie clips or aerospace components that are being created, professional fabricators have multiple methodologies to choose from to create the parts and products we, all, use everyday.
The really interesting question regarding metal fabrication could be: “Where and when did this process originate?” Here, we will offer a brief synopsis of the history of metal fabrication. The length of time metal fabrication has been utilized by humanity, in every corner of the globe, just might surprise you!
Metal Fabrication – Almost as Old as Humanity
It wasn’t mere hundreds of years ago, but rather, many thousands of years ago that metal fabrication emerged onto the human stage. Take, for example, copper-mining and copper-working that was evident as far back as 8,700 BC in the Middle East where jewelry pieces have been unearthed that reveal very early metal-manipulation procedures. In America, copper was heated and hammered as far back as 5,000 BC.
Limited historical revelation exists regarding the first society of people to employ metal fabrication, but it is very safe to say, thanks to unearthed evidence, that metal fabrication has, indeed, been going strong for at least 7,000 years – up to, and including, the present. Metal tools and weapons uncovered in southern Serbia, in Europe, from eons ago, clearly indicate items that were fabricated by a select few who, somehow, understood the processes involved to manipulate metal to change it into different forms. The ancient Egyptians, early Mid-Eastern societies, Oriental peoples and those of the early Roman Empire utilized metal fabrication procedures, creating their own form and style of finished products for combat purposes and everyday use.
The first metals discovered by early civilizations were iron, tin and gold; and it was the astonishingly-advanced Egyptian civilization of thousands of years ago, in particular, that utilized gold for decorative, adornment and idol-worship pieces. In addition to gold, advanced ancient societies mined and worked tin and iron to fabricate everything from weapons, jewelry, breast plates, helmets, chariots, tools, rudimentary machinery and iron gates.
Metal Fabrication Makes the World Go ‘Round
Yes, even before history became officially recorded in a consistent manner, long before man understood that the earth was flat, and before the wheel was even invented (presumed to be 3500 BC, in ancient Mesopotamia) metal fabrication was thriving. Those historic, specialized processes of metal manipulation were handed down from one generation to the next and provide a legacy of a fundamental, yet very crucial, societal operation that continues to this day.
Without metal fabrication, the entire civilized world would cease to exist as we know it. Think about it: the applications of metal fabrication radiate outward to every aspect our lives: transportation, construction and industries of every type utilize products such as bridges, tools, computers, electronics, plumbing, military and medical equipment, farm machinery, HVAC components, cars/trucks/ & motorcycles and so much more!
The US Department of Commerce tells us that fabricated metals are the third-largest US manufacturing industry when measured by employment; and that employment comes to 12% of all the manufacturing employees in the entire United States!
The peoples of ancient Egypt, the Middle East, Rome and other advanced societies could never have imagined how their metal fabrication knowledge and insight would continue to shape the world – in ways, unimaginable!