Importance of steel fabrication in construction

The construction industry has significantly evolved over the years, and with it, several new and improved methods that make the industry safer and more efficient, one of which is steel fabrication. If you consider different types of large buildings like skyscrapers, warehouses, and shopping centres for instance, almost all elements of their construction involve structural steel. Steel-framed structures are also used extensively across a number of different types of construction projects such as garages, residential buildings, and short-term temporary structures. 

Steel fabrication is integral to creating various parts and products with different qualities for different applications. There can be no denying that structural steelwork has been the top choice for the majority of engineers, builders, contractors, and structural steel fabricators. A lot of industries depend on bespoke steel fabrication in one way or another because of its reliability, quality, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability.

Structural steelwork and fabrication 

Two of the hardest industries in the world today are architectural engineering and construction. This is largely down to complex and demanding designs where the finished product needs to have the highest integrity and withstand any type of conditions. Due to the nature of these sectors, there is high demand for materials that are exceptionally strong and durable. 

A large amount of steel fabrication is done in cold, rolled, mild, and stainless steel. Of these, stainless steel is the most commonly used thanks to its strength, high level of weather resistance, and aesthetic appearance, particularly brushed stainless steel. Modern advancements in technology, machinery, and computer-aided design (CAD) software have taken the steel fabrication process to the next level. It now includes using other manufacturing practices such as bending, cutting, brazing, grinding, and welding. 

Where is steel fabrication most commonly used in construction?

Steel fabrication can be found in multiple different parts of the construction industry. Some examples of these include: 

  • High-rise buildings- thanks to its light weight, strength, and quicker construction 
  • Industrial buildings- due to its ability to manufacture large spaces at a low price 
  • Warehouse buildings- again because of making big areas at lower costs 
  • Residential buildings- with a technique known as light gauge steel construction 
  • Temporary structures- because they can be set up and taken away quickly and easily 

What are the benefits of steel fabrication in construction? 

  • Ensures structurally sound products that are made to strict specifications and tolerances. 
  • Energy efficient and additional material leftover from the process is fully recyclable. 
  • The strength of steel means it won’t warp, twist, buckle, or bend, so it will be long-lasting, and any modifications can easily be made if needed. 
  • It’s cost effective and pricing stays fairly consistent. 
  • It allows for better quality construction and less maintenance and repairs will be needed on the finished product. 

 As well as safety and economic benefits, steel fabrication in construction also provides important environmental and social benefits. This is because steel lasts a very long time, it is reusable, and it can be repeatedly recycled without compromising its properties. Steel framed buildings, as mentioned briefly above, can also be impressively energy efficient when used in conjunction with other enhancements. 

Steel fabrication in construction needs industry experts 

Bespoke steel fabrication is a skilled, specialist process that requires cutting, shaping, or moulding metals to create the final product. Therefore, it’s important that anyone needing steel fabrication in the construction industry goes to an engineering company with extensive industry experience, professionally trained staff, and cutting-edge machinery. 

With that in mind, if you’re looking for high quality steel fabrication in Sheffield, contact our team at FEM today. Our family-run bespoke fabrication service ensures your exact specifications are met to the highest possible standard, quickly and efficiently and competitively priced. 

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What are the different types of sheet metal?

Sheet metal is metal that is manufactured into thin, flat pieces of various thicknesses. It is often used in sheet metal fabrication processes to create products for a number of different sectors. Sheet metal can be made from several metals and metal alloys, which we will be exploring in this article as well as how they’re used. 

The different types of sheet metal 


Due to its many benefits, such as large supply, low cost, ease of fabrication, good strength-to-weight ratio, good electrical and thermal conductivity, corrosion resistance, and high recyclability, aluminium is a popular choice for various applications. Some of the ways aluminium sheet fabrication is used includes for automotive parts, electrical devices, and cooking vessels. 

Aluminised steel

Aluminised steel is created by coating carbon steel with an aluminium-silicon alloy, which forms a material that blends the strength of carbon steel with the impressive corrosion resistance of aluminium. Sheets of aluminised steel are used for products designed to withstand high temperature or corrosive environments including cooking implements and kitchen appliances. 

Carbon steel

Carbon steel is a steel alloy that is partly made up of carbon (up to 2.1%). As the carbon content is increased, the material becomes stronger and harder after heat treatment, but less ductile. Carbon steel is often used in architectural sheet metal fabrication and creates a lot of products in both the industrial and consumer markets. 


When compared to aluminium which has good electrical and thermal conductivity, copper is even better. However, it is also typically more expensive. The most common items made from copper include rain gutters, doors, roofs, and heat sinks.

Galvanised steel 

Like with aluminised steel, galvanised steel is produced by costing steel with zinc to make it more resistant to corrosion (this is done by hot dipping). Sheets of galvanised steel are often used to make the bodies of automobiles, water pipes, and several construction elements such as staircases, roofs, and fences.


Galvalume is a process of coating steel with an alloy of aluminium, zinc, and silicon, which makes the steel more durable and resistant to corrosion than galvanised steel. As a result of the significantly improved corrosion resistance, galvalume sheets are heavily used in outdoor applications like on roofs that are consistently exposed to different weather elements.

High strength steel 

You will usually find high strength steel being used for military armour plates. The material is created by alloying steel with a range of elements such as carbon, manganese, and copper to increase its hardness.

Hot rolled steel 

In comparison to cold rolled steel, hot rolled steel is a lot cheaper to make. It is usually used in structural applications like automotive body parts.

Stainless steel 

Stainless steel is an alloy of steel with a minimum of 11% chromium and less than 1.2% carbon. The material has many benefits to offer like a high level of corrosion resistance, fire and heat resistance, strength-to-weight ratio, and easy manufacturability. Stainless steel sheet fabrication often produces kitchen vessels, storage tanks for chemicals, and components for food processing machinery.


Titanium has multiple beneficial metallurgical traits that make it appropriate for a broad range of industrial applications. Even though it is mostly used for its high strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion, it also has the added advantages of durability, being easily recyclable, and biocompatibility. Common uses for titanium include aviation parts, construction elements, and medical equipment.

Custom sheet metal fabrication at FEM 

If you find yourself searching for ‘sheet metal fabrication near me’ you’ve landed in the right place. At FEM we have over 45 years of working in fabrication with our team being specialists in mild steel, steel, aluminium, and stainless steel fabrication. We pride ourselves on always providing the highest standard of fabrication services and products for our clients. Contact us today to discuss your project needs and see how we can help you with our sheet metal fabrication service. 

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Manufacturing vs Fabrication: What’s the difference?

Manufacturing and fabrication are industrial terms relating to the process of production or construction. People often compare manufacturing vs fabrication like they need to choose between them, but in a lot of cases they work together. In this guide we’ll be looking at the meaning of both manufacturing and fabrication within industrial processes. 

What is involved in fabrication? 

Fabrication is a method of constructing products by mixing typically standardised parts using one or more individual procedures. For example, steel fabrication is the creation of metal structures using multiple different processes like cutting, bending, and assembling. 

Metal fabrication will mostly form a complete assembly made from smaller sub-assemblies to use with readily available standard sections. This is done with CAD (computer-aided designs) that are programmed with CNC (computer numerical control) technology which directly communicates with the machinery is on the factory floor. 

By using these technologies, production quality standards are increased, and better-quality assemblies are made. This makes for a more accurate and quicker steel erection time on site, which is essential in high volume production, lowering the cost for customers though maximised material utilisation and faster assembly times. 

Our team at FEM have extensive experience of fabrication in Sheffield which ensures the highest quality within all our projects, giving our customers products that are durable and have longevity. 

What is manufacturing? 

A manufacturing process involves converting raw materials into a finished product. Basically, it’s making something from start to finish. The manufacturing sector includes large scale production using machines, tools, and chemical/biological processing.  

It is the stages that raw materials need to undergo before being deemed a final product. There are a range of different industries that fall into this category such as: 

  • Apparel 
  • Chemicals 
  • Electronics and electrical equipment 
  • Fabricated metal 
  • Food and kindred 
  • Leather 
  • Lumber and wood 
  • Petroleum refining 
  • Printing and publishing 

Comparing manufacturing and fabrication 

Manufacturing is about making a complete product to be sold to consumers using either prefabricated parts or raw materials. Normally, the production process uses machinery, assembly lines, and skilled labour. There are five general categories when it comes to manufacturing: 

  • Repetitive- the same product is created all the time 
  • Job shop- an open system without assembly lines, this strategy is useful for specialised or custom-made products 
  • Discrete- this might follow the assembly or production line method, but the processes for making them vary significantly 
  • Continuous- the nature of the product being made is regularly in demand and needs continuous movement 
  • Batch- products are manufactured in specific groups within a restricted timeframe. Contract manufacturing can be part of this method because typically the contractor is producing quantities of unique products for various companies 

Fabrication involves building a product to be used by manufacturers, not consumers. Fabricators work to process raw materials or refine parts of them, so they are suitable for assembly. The options are practically limitless, but some of the most common methods of fabrication include: 

  • Cutting/punching 
  • Welding 
  • Folding 
  • Machining 
  • Shearing 
  • Stamping 

The main difference between manufacturing and fabrication is how much of the process a job involves. Fabrication entails assembling standard or specialised parts to create parts of a product to be used in the manufacture of the completed piece. 

Manufacturing on the other hand, is a start to finish method, from creating parts to the final assembly to form the finished product, often using areas of fabrication within the manufacturing journey. 

If you’re looking for metal fabrication Sheffield, check out our range of fabrication services and if you have any questions or want to discuss a specific project, contact our family run team at FEM today. 


Mild steel vs stainless steel

The overall term steel covers a wide variety of different metals, two of the main examples being mild steel and stainless steel. Even though both stainless and mild steel include a whole sub-group of different metals, there are a few important characteristics that differentiate the two. 

What is mild steel? 

Mild steel is a type of steel made up of iron and carbon as its main components. This type of steel differs from normal steel in the sense that it contains a much lower percentage of carbon compared to standard steel. 

The carbon content of mild steel can vary from 0.05% to 0.25%, with its properties being mostly dependent on this little amount of carbon. There are several grades of mild steel, and it is often used as a building material with a number of famous skyscrapers and bridges being made from it. 

What is stainless steel? 

Stainless steel is comprised of iron and chromium and is categorised as a metal alloy. It has around 10% of chromium mixed in with the iron, with the other metal elements involved being nickel, molybdenum, titanium, and copper. Non-metal components in stainless mainly have carbon present. 

This type of steel can naturally cope with very high temperatures. For this reason, stainless steel is often used to make kitchen equipment. Unlike normal steel, it has a clean and shiny appearance which makes it attractive and appealing for consumers. 

Comparing mild steel and stainless steel 

The most prominent factor that distinguishes mild steel from stainless steel is their alloying element. As previously mentioned, mild steel is alloyed with carbon whilst the alloying element in stainless steel is chromium. These alloys produce vastly different outcomes in terms of corrosion resistance, malleability, ease of fabrication, and cost. 


Due to stainless steel being alloyed with chromium, it has a significantly higher level of corrosion resistance than mild steel. The chrome within the stainless steel reacts with oxygen in the air and creates a natural ‘chromium oxide’ protective layer on the surface of the metal. This means that as long as the layer doesn’t become damaged, the metal will be resistant to corrosion. 

Different grades of stainless steel will contain different elements that make them more suitable for various environments, for example a marine environment which includes the presence of water and salt. 

By contrast, mild steel does not have a chromium oxide protective layer, meaning the iron that is present will react with the moisture to form iron oxide or rust. Therefore, additional processing will be needed during mild steel fabrication such as galvanising in order to ensure the metal is protected. 


Chrome is a hard alloy, which means stainless steels are a lot stronger and resistant to impact in comparison to mild steel. However, despite stainless steel fabrication being relatively easy, it’s not as easy as mild steel metal fabrication. Mild steel is much more malleable than stainless steel, and so it is commonly used in general fabrication engineering.  


When deciding between mild or stainless steel, cost can be an influential factor. Despite stainless steel offering a far better life span and corrosion resistance than its mild counterpart, the different alloying elements it contains (especially chromium) make it more expensive.  

If you combine that with the extra work that goes into fabricating it, stainless steel comes with a much higher price tag than mild steel. However, the benefits you get in return with stainless steel, particularly the aesthetic look, impressive rust resistance, and low maintenance, you will find that it’s very much value for money.  

At FEM, our team are experts in the field of steel fabrication in Sheffield with skills covering both mild steel fabrication and stainless steel fabrication and welding. So, no matter your project requirements we will carry out the work to the highest standard. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you with our steel fabrication service.