The What & How Of Steel Structure Fabrication
If there’s one material on the planet that seems omnipotent and omnipresent then it is steel. Domestic, industrial or local, steel is like a family member – present in the house we live in, the car we commute in, or the appliances we use daily. Can we imagine our world without steel? Definitely not. From factories to bridges, transmission towers to buildings, steel is everywhere in all shapes and sizes. But, is it so easy to make anything out of steel in any shape and size? No, of course not. To come to life from a blueprint steel has to go through a lot, literally. This entire chain of events comes under the umbrella of ‘steel structure fabrication’. Let’s find out more…
- Steel structure fabrication
- The process
- Things to keep in mind
STEEL STRUCTURE FABRICATION
Our civilisation has seen the baton of metal fabrication being passed on across periods through copper, bronze, cast-iron and steel. Structural steel fabrication is the same process that fashions raw steel into the desired fit and is widely popular since the industrial revolution. There are as many as 3500 grades of steel developed by structural steel manufacturers — 75% of them in the past two decades.
Fabrication is a process that features several standard steps:
- Stock yarding
This is where all the steel brought as raw material is gathered at. Though the intake is huge and features in tonnes, the steel doesn’t really accumulate into a large inventory. We owe this to the fast process of fabrication.
- Ideation and blueprint
Before starting fabrication, the requirements and brief should obviously be known. Computer Aided Designing (CAD) helps in getting through with this. The combination of CAD and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) enables precise output.
- Shot blasting
It involves cleaning of the steel surface by firing shots of air in the form of a jet stream. This results in a rough steel surface free from dirt and scale.
- Cutting and drilling
In structural fabrication, cutting the sections to length and profiling the plates to the desired size or shape is required. This is done using a range of automated machinery like circular saws, gas or flame cutters, plasma cutters, etc. Steel structural can be rapidly bolted together at site. Holes are made using high speed steel twist bits.
When the structure demands bends, it is sent to the bending unit.
- Tee splitting
Tee section being an important aspect of structural fabrication. It is made using a burning torch or a cutter which runs through the beam. For finishing, the beam is straightened after splitting.
Welding involves joining the various parts by heat which shall be used to prepare the final framework on site. The parent material and another supplementary material are melted to form a joint. There are various methods of welding.
This phase initiates the curtain fall. The structure is checked for any defects like cracks through various methods.
Galvanization or paint to add the anti-corrosive and fire-resistant touch to the structure is carried out at the end.
The logistics takes care of the operations after the end product is ready by transporting the product for fixing and structure erection on site.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Since structures are going to rest on the framework, there are many things to bear in mind during this entire process of fabrication.
- Quality and proper briefing
As the process is entirely machine based, proper briefing is necessary to configure the machines accurately. Even a slight error can spoil the entire assignment and its arrangement.
Different countries have different standards. Since many structures are exported and imported, a knowledge of the various standards is a prerequisite for seamless processing.
- Bay size
Bay is the gap between two frames in a steel structure. The calculation is important in deciding the overall weight distribution which ultimately decides the number of frames and hence impacts the costs.
- Coatings and final touches
The coating done should also be of quality because we are talking about industrial setups where there is an open chance of hazards.
Steel has emerged as a safe and quicker alternative to construction. With pre-engineered buildings, the demand for steel in industrial and commercial lanes has gone up already. With 100% recycle value, it can be melted and re-fabricated. Due to its strong and sustainable nature, its presence and importance is felt over every major industry – automotive, energy, infrastructure and housing. It is the metal of modern civilisation.