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What is Steel Fabrication?

Steel is known for its strength and durability, making it a key material for a huge number of applications across many industries. It’s one of the most important construction materials, and something we all come into contact with every single day - from our home appliances to the roads we drive on. But how do we process steel to make it into the components and bespoke structures we fabricate at Carver Engineering?


That’s where steel fabrication comes in. Here, we’ll dive into what steel fabrication is, what it’s used for and the process of transforming raw materials into incredibly useful structures for a multitude of projects.

What is steel fabrication?

Steel fabrication is the process of taking steel plates and sections in their basic form and assembling them to form a structure or product to a client’s specification. Essentially, making the steel into the bespoke product you need. 

What is structural steel fabrication?

Structural steel fabrication is a type of fabrication that refers specifically to the process of creating metal structures with steel. These structures often comprise of steel beams, columns, and are commonly used for the construction of built assets, like stairs, bridges and platforms. As with all steel fabrication, structural fabrication involves shaping, cutting and welding sheets and sections into a final product.

What does a structural steel fabricator do?

A structural steel fabricator is responsible for turning basic steel sections into finished structural components used in construction projects. Their role involves several key tasks and responsibilities, including interpreting detailed designs, cutting, shaping, joining and welding.
 

A fabricator plays a critical role in the construction industry by fabricating high-quality steel components that form the structural framework of buildings, bridges, industrial facilities, and other structures.
 

At Carver, our team of highly experienced fabrication engineers deliver complex structures to our clients’ specifications in our facility, which is capable of running 24/7. All of our project managers will work collaboratively with the client, helping bring their project to life.

The steel fabrication process

Throughout the 20+ years we’ve been fabricating steel at Carver Engineering, we’ve seen and implemented many new technologies to streamline the process, making it quicker and more efficient than ever. Here are some of the most common techniques used throughout the process…

Detailed design

Before we start fabricating the steel, designers will develop the initial concept and create a 3D design using CAD software. This provides clarity for the customer, and also allows the project engineers to identify flaws before production begins.

Cutting

Steel fabrication begins with cutting raw steel materials into the desired shapes and sizes using tools such as saws, shears, lasers, or plasma cutters

Welding

Welding is the process of joining steel components together using an electric arc to generate heat to melt the parent material in the joint. A separate filler material supplied as a consumable electrode also melts and combines with the parent material to form a molten weld pool. Common welding techniques include MIG (Metal Inert Gas), TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas), and stick welding.

Coating 

Once the product has been fabricated we move on to coating. To prevent corrosion and prolong the structure’s lifespan, primer coats or zinc galvanising is applied to the structural steel as per our client’s specification. 

Assembling

Assembly involves fitting and joining the fabricated steel components to create larger structures ready for quality inspection and later site installation. 

What is fabricated steel used for?

Structural steel products are versatile and have a higher strength in both tension and compression compared to other construction materials meaning they last longer. It means that structures can be easily adapted, avoiding costly and environmentally damaging redevelopment work. It’s also lighter, more durable and more workable than alternatives like concrete.
 

While it’s extensively used in construction for building structures, fabricated steel also plays a vital role in infrastructure. This includes highways, railways, bridges, tunnels and ports, ensuring safe and efficient transportation networks.
 

In manufacturing, these steel structures can be used to create machinery, equipment and tools for industrial plants, warehouses and storage facilities. Due to steel’s reliability for heavy-duty operations, it can feature in industrial building structures such as mezzanines, platforms and material handling equipment too.

What other raw materials can be fabricated?

While the team at Carver specialises in mild steel, this is not the only type of metal fabrication. In addition to steel, a wide range of raw materials can be fabricated to create various products and structures. Some common raw materials that are used in fabrication processes that can be incorporated into our projects include aluminium, stainless steel, copper, brass and composite materials.

What industry is steel fabrication used in?

Fabricated steel is incredibly versatile, and that’s reflected in the wide range of industries that utilise this essential construction material. Here are just a few of the core sectors we support with custom steel fabrication projects.

Rail & transport 

We’ve worked on numerous projects across the rail, highways and transport industry. These projects range from constructions for Access for All schemes, pedestrian footbridges and road bridges.

Oil & gas

Structural steel is an integral part of oil and gas infrastructure, from pipes, fittings, rods and beams. We have an expanding portfolio of oil and gas clients, creating safety-critical fabrications to precise specifications, ensuring structural integrity in low temperature environments.
 

Marine

From offshore platforms and mooring systems above sea level, to subsea infrastructure on the seabed, fabricated steel provides the mechanical strength, integrity and corrosion-resistant finish needed to withstand high-pressure conditions.
 

Energy & utilities

Fabricated steel is essential in the energy and utilities sector for producing power generation equipment, transmission towers, pipelines, storage tanks, and infrastructure for oil, gas, and renewable energy projects. It provides the structural integrity and reliability required for safe and efficient energy production and distribution.

Mining

Fabricated steel constructs are indispensable for safe and efficient mining operations. From mining equipment and excavators to conveyor systems and processing equipment, we can provide bespoke solutions for technically challenging underground networks.

Enquire about our steel fabrication services and kickstart your project with Carver Engineering

Now that you’ve gotten to grips with the ins and outs of fabricated steel, the numerous ways it's used in construction and infrastructure, and how the process works, there’s only one thing left to do… Get in touch with the team at Carver Engineering to enquire about how we can provide an engineering solution for you!

 
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