Manufacturing Day was started in 2012 by Founding Partner the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International (FMA). FMA is also the publisher of thefabricator.com, an online magazine devoted to covering the metal fabrication industry.
It’s no wonder, then, that a lot of metal fabricators have participated in MFG DAY over the years. If you’re interested in learning more about the field of metal fabrication, then, there’s a good chance that a fabricator in your area will be holding an MFG DAY event.
What Is Metal Fabrication?For those who don’t know, metal fabrication is the process of taking raw metal materials — typically sheet or tube stock — and turning it into metal products. These can range from bike parts to structural metal components for bridges and the like to custom oven range hoods.
If you visit a fabrication shop, you’ll see workers operating large machines such as laser cutting tables, stamping presses, and press brakes to form metal into desired shapes. Those pieces then might be assembled together into more complex objects using various fasteners or, more often than not, welding.
Career Opportunities in Metal FabricationEveryone who works in a metal fabrication shop needs to know how to read blueprints, use computers, operate machinery safely, and follow quality control procedures. There are a few key roles, though, where you can specialize:
- Estimator — Basically the sales role at a fabrication shop, an estimator talks to clients, specifies projects, and generates quotes.
- Detailer — Using computer-assisted design (CAD) software, a shop detailer transforms engineering drawings into “shop drawings” or blueprints that can be used by workers to form raw metal into the requisite shapes.
- Machine Operator — As mentioned above, metal fabrication often depends on complex machines such as laster cutting tables. These are typically operated by skilled workers who know how to set them up and program their controls.
- Welder — Many fabrication shops employ skilled welders who can join metal in accordance with various industry requirements.
Where to Train to Be a Metal FabricatorTraditionally, metal fabricators have worked their way up at a fabrication shop, starting with an apprentice program. Here’s a video about Roy Lafromboise, a sheet metal fabricator who runs a turret punch press at Pioneer Industries in Seattle, learned most of what he does today on the job, and is currently enrolled in a four-year apprenticeship program:
Today, many technical institutes around the country offer training designed to teach students the skills they need to be a qualified metal fabricator. To find a technical college in your area, visit www.tech-schools.us.
If you already have a degree and are looking to brush up on your skills or make yourself more employable, you might look into a certification program such as FMA’s certificate programs starting with the Fundamentals of Metal Fabrication Certificate.
Metal Fabrication MFG DAY EventsTo find MFG DAY events held by metal fabricators, go to the Find an Event page and search for “fabrication,” “fabricator,” or “metal.” Those searches will bring up most fabrication companies participating in the annual celebration. You can also use the filters on the page or the map interface to browse events in your area.
In the past, MFG DAY events hosted by fabricators or that featured fabrication companies have included formats such as:
Learn More About Metal Fabrication This MFG DAYIf metal fabrication sounds like an exciting field you’d like to learn more about, an MFG DAY event at a metal fabricator’s shop or at a venue where they are exhibiting — such as a career expo — is a perfect opportunity to see fabrication in action and talk to people who do it. More events get added to mfgday.com ever day, so make sure to periodically check the list of current events to find out if there is one in your area.
On the other hand, if you are a metal fabricator who’s interested in hosting an event, we welcome you! Metal fabrication plays an important role in the broad field of manufacturing and we’re eager to have as many metal fabricators as possible participate in this year’s MFG DAY. To get started, visit the account creation page, fill out the two-field form, and you’ll be greeted with a dashboard full of event planning resources.