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Technological Trends in Industrial Metal Fabrication

Industrial metal fabrication is a growing sector in the US economy valued at an estimated $362.4 billion in 2020 and expected to reach $473.7 billion by 2031, according to Transparency Market Research. This growth is largely due to the emergence of technological advancements in manufacturing sectors. The accessibility and low cost of raw materials like iron and steel have also boosted the metal fabrication industry.

In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of the industry and break down key technological trends that can give you a better idea of this field’s growth trajectory.

What Is Industrial Metal Fabrication?

Industrial metal fabrication is any process that uses raw materials to produce machines or metal products. These processes include assembly, cutting, forming, burning, machining, and welding. Examples of raw materials include iron, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and titanium.

Industrial metal fabrication is essential across many industries, to produce goods as diverse as hand tools, cutlery, hardware, wires, springs, screws, nuts, bolts, handrails, architectural structures, and heavy-duty industrial equipment. Fabrication is often performed alongside other manufacturing processes.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the metal fabrication industry employs at least 1.42 million blacksmiths, welders, ironworkers, cutters, boilermakers, assemblers, solderers, machinists, and their supervisors. 

Welder in mask welding metal and sparks metal. Toned image. Welding with sparks close up view

What Are Some Technological Trends in Industrial Metal Fabrication?

As in many industries, digitization has influenced the rapid growth and development of industrial metal fabrication. Although the industry has been hesitant to adopt certain digital processes at first—fearing the uncertainties that come with replacing human workers—metal fabricators have responded to the ways digitization streamlines daily operations while making them safer and more efficient for workers.

Here are the top technological trends in industrial metal fabrication:

  • Automation: Automation has been widely adopted in many fabrication processes, especially computer numerical control (CNC) machining and automated welding. Automation has helped enhance quality, precision, safety, production capabilities, and turnaround times.
  • Collaborative robots: Also called cobots, collaborative robots in industrial metal fabrication settings utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to simplify assembly and handle dangerous tasks for employees.
  • Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity is vital in a world driven by data. Attacks, data thefts, and other dangers can compromise proprietary and client information. According to IBM, manufacturing was one of the most targeted industries in the world in 2021. To keep up with these ever-evolving threats, industrial metal fabricators have to abide by cybersecurity regulations set out by the U.S. Department of Defense. 
  • 3D printing and additive manufacturing: 3D printing—a form of additive manufacturing—has quickly emerged as one of the industry’s foremost manufacturing methods. This versatile technology allows companies to manufacture almost anything with nearly zero material waste.

Why Should You Work with PDF, Inc. for Your Industrial Metal Fabrication Needs?

At PDF, Inc., we design, manufacture, and fabricate specialty parts and OEM equipment and machinery, which is sold under the brand name Process Development & Fabrication, Inc. Each part is manufactured to the specific requirements of our customers. We ship throughout the United States and to 15 countries around the world. From our ISO 9001:2015 certified facility, we provide training, maintenance, robotics, electrical systems integration, fluid power specialization, and electromechanical engineering services.Given the trends we discussed, industrial metal fabrication will continue to grow and expand well into the future. Request a quote to start work on your custom solution, or contact us to learn more about our products and capabilities.