Metal fabricators design and create structural metal parts for a variety of industries, including auto, medical, food, shipbuilding and construction. Technical school and community college programs typically cover various fabrication techniques, and these institutions offer certificates and associate degrees within this field. Practically all metal fabrication programs include training in welding. In addition to traditional coursework, these programs typically include lab components that teach students the hands-on skills required in the field of metal fabrication.
As students go through metal fabrication courses, they will be introduced to the following topics:
- Safety procedures and equipment usage
- Welding and fabrication materials
- Computers and advanced fabrication technology
- Machine and manual cutting techniques
- Career options and industries for metal fabricators
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List of Metal Fabrication Courses
Blueprints and Welding Symbols Courses
Two important aspects of metalwork are reading welding symbols and using blueprints. Metal fabricators must be skilled at visualizing a 3-dimensional structure from 2-dimensional figures. Professionals also must learn to create drawings, including hand sketches and orthographic projections. In this course, students complete classroom study and lab work, practicing identification of structural shapes, weld positions, weld symbols and surface features on actual blueprints. Lessons explore the relationship and coordination between blueprint draftsmen and metal fabricators.
Technical Math and Measuring Courses
The math concepts commonly used in the metal fabrication industry include applied algebra, geometry and arithmetic. Students learn to work with linear and quadratic equations, in addition to basic geometry formulas for planes and solids. In particular, they become familiar with various methods for measuring proportions and ratios, and calculating areas and volumes of 3-dimensional objects. Basic algebra may be a prerequisite for some technical math courses.
Focusing on the most frequently used metals in fabrication, this course provides an understanding of metal technology and science. Students learn the classification and principles of both ferrous and nonferrous metals and explore how heat treatments affect the behavior of different metals. Exercises teach the methods for metalworking that include welding, casting and tempering, and the equipment involved for each. A high priority is placed on the consistent use of safety procedures.
Metal Fabrication Course
In this course, students gain a comprehensive overview of metal fabrication techniques. Through lab projects, they enhance skills learned in previous classes, such as using blueprints and taking accurate measurements. Labs allow for experimentation with fabrication tools, especially automated devices, such as shears, lasers and press brakes, as well as those that use computer numerical control (CNC).
Welding Techniques Courses
Welding, which joins metals by melting them together, is one of the most important assembly processes in metal fabrication. Courses provide training in a full range of techniques, from oxy-acetylene to brazing and cutting. Arc welding techniques include flux cored, shielded metal, gas metal and gas tungsten. Students learn proper equipment maintenance procedures. Hands-on practice is inspected and tested to ensure students meet industry standards.
Occupational Communication Skills
Most metal fabrication programs require students to learn communication skills for the workplace, stressing the importance of instruction, teamwork and safety in the metal shop environment. Classes focus on listening and speaking, including giving and following instructions. Participants also learn about human relationships, cooperation and may practice group problem-solving exercises.