Metal working classes come in two varieties: courses that focus on building and forming metal with machine tools for industrial purposes, and courses in shaping and crafting metal for use in art and jewelry. Some classes may teach skills applicable to both fields.
Art schools typically offer bachelor's degrees in metal working and jewelry, while a more industrial focus can be found in associate's degree programs in machine tool technology and related fields. Either type of metal work program will cover design skills as well as the safety considerations, tools and processes necessary for manipulating metals. Both types of programs include lecture-based courses and hands-on metal working opportunities.
Here are some of the main concepts you'll learn when taking metal working classes:
- Machine tool best practices
- Shop safety
- Metallurgical chemistry
- Design and aesthetics
- Metal processing techniques
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List of Classes
Metal Working Technology
This course introduces students to common machine tools used in metal work, including lathes, surface grinders and drill presses. Students learn to select materials and measure them using precision equipment before gaining hands-on experience operating metal working tools. Safety rules are strongly emphasized, including the use of safety equipment such as goggles or a face shield.
Metallurgy classes explore the physical and chemical makeup of metals. The course includes an introduction to the basics of chemistry and atomic structure. Students learn to identify and classify different types of metals. The coursework explains how metals can be shaped, transformed and strengthened through heat treatment, welding and other processing methods.
Ways to cut, shape and mold metal are covered in metal processing classes. Students learn to cast metal forms by pouring liquid metal into molds made of plaster, wax, sand or other materials. Cutting tools include saws, lasers and high-pressure water jets. Classes may also feature lessons using mallets, hammers and anvils in forges. All these methods can be applied to both industrial and artistic metal work.
Metal Work Design
Many metal working projects--particularly in industrial areas--require precise preplanning and design before any work can be done. This course teaches the design process for crafting metal components and sculptures. Students learn how to read blueprints and create designs using computer-aided drafting software. Training includes methods of maintaining quality control in the finished product.
Degree programs focused on artistic or crafting metal work are offered at many university art schools. Metal work classes in these programs are often coupled with jewelry design lessons and can result in a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts. A metal working class can also be taken as part of a broader art degree program, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art.
Programs that prepare students for jobs in metal working shops include associate's degrees in machine tool technology and bachelor's degrees in manufacturing engineering technology. A more academic approach to metal working can be found in undergraduate and graduate degree programs in materials engineering and metallurgical engineering.