Is metal fabrication sustainable?

spiral staircase with a green tree in centre

Metal fabrication is one of the premier manufacturing processes used in sectors all over the world. Companies can use various types of metal fabrication to produce vital parts and components. Due to these widespread applications, the industry has the potential to significantly influence the environmental impact of a range of manufacturing. 

In this blog, we’ll be examining whether the metal fabrication industry is currently sustainable and if not, what can be done to make the process more sustainable. 


What’s involved in metal fabrication? 

Metal fabrication is a process that has the potential to consist of many different stages. These vary depending on the technicality and scope of the project. Therefore, companies in some industries may require bespoke metal fabrication that uses more or less of these stages than others to meet their needs. 

  • Cutting – can be achieved using a variety of methods, including machining, water jet, shearing, laser cutting and more. 
  • Forming – can include one or more of the following: bending, stamping, drilling, folding. 
  • Assembling – the workpiece is joined together, either through screwing, riveting, or welding. 
  • Finishing – products and components are treated with protective coatings. This could be a glaze, a powder, or a specialised type of paint. 

Sustainability issues arise due to the energy needed to change the shape of the metal. Even cold forming processes involve extreme force, which is typically generated by electricity-powered machinery. Also, some of the steps listed above are less sustainable than others. For example, welding operations can produce harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and ozone. 

Materials are also a consideration. Stronger materials are typically more difficult to form and assemble, thereby requiring greater energy input. Additionally, finishing may only be required for certain products. This step can produce environmentally harmful waste gases. 


Sustainability measures for metal fabrication 

Sustainability in metal fabrication means securing the present and future of the industry while protecting the environment.  


Unfortunately, waste products are inevitable during metal fabrication. However, companies can be more sustainable by ensuring waste is disposed of safely. Measures that increase manufacturing efficiency are also likely to coincide with a reduction in waste. 

Recyclable materials 

Focusing on highly reusable materials can reduce the environmental impact of the metal fabrication process. Steel, for instance, is one of the most recycled materials in the world because its metallurgic properties are maintained. On the other hand, metals like aluminium possess qualities that are environmentally friendly. 

Long lasting products 

Producing products with long lifecycles removes the need for repair. This means metal fabrication services are required less often. 

Renewable energy 

Any of the energy supplied to metal fabrication facilities and equipment can be created by renewable sources. While this won’t prevent the effects of potentially damaging processes such as welding, it will help make cutting and forming more sustainable. 


Metal fabricators near me 

Some of FEMs core values are integrity, honesty, loyalty, and efficiency. This means we aim to complete your work to the best of our ability, in consideration of your needs. This includes how we can make your project as sustainable as possible. We are experienced metal fabricators based in Sheffield, the home of UK steel. Contact us today for a free quote.