The process of steel beam fabrication

As specialists in metal fabrication, FEM Ltd knows a thing or two about the process behind creating bespoke steel beams.

And to give you an idea of the expertise that goes into steel beam fabrication, our team has put together this guide on the process. We hope it gives you a better understanding as to why choosing the right steel fabrication company for your build is vital for ensuring compliance, value and quality of the product for your unique structural steel requirements.

How steel beams are fabricated…

Steel beams are structural steel that has been fabricated to meet the specific requirements of a construction project.

First the design of the structure is completed to meet the needs and compliance of the finished job. FEM Ltd’s engineers can assist with the idea, design and drawing, as well as interpreting engineering blueprints. The fabrication team will use different types of machinery to fabricate the basic steel into the desired shape for the project.

Steel fabrication companies like FEM Ltd use a number of processes to do this, such as cutting and bending. And the intricacies of this process will depend on the finished use of the desired steel beam; from basic welding to highly specialised fabrication that can only be undertaken with dedicated machinery, like that operated by FEM Ltd.

A lot of thought needs to go into the creation of every single steel beam produced to guarantee it is engineered to meet the brief precisely. At FEM Ltd our team fabricates steel beams to an accuracy of millimetres.

Once inspected, the steel beam is handed over to the welding team who weld the steel together to the specifications.

The final steel beam fabrication is then signed off and certified to BSEN 1090.

What different types of steel beams are there?

The type of steel beam required to suit your project will depend on a number of elements. Our team will work with you to understand the best steel beam(s) for you.

Steel beam fabrication is a bespoke service to ensure the compliance and fulfillment of each individual project. Your steel beam will be based on one of these different types of steel beam:

  • ‘H’ Beams

  • ‘S’ Beams

  • ‘W’ Beams

  • Universal Beams

  • Double Beams

  • Tee Bar

  • Channels

  • Lintels

What industries use steel beams?

Steel beam fabrication companies like FEM Ltd are on hand to support all projects which require the expertise of specialist metal fabrication.

Building and construction industries use steel beams across various projects; from towers and bridges to industrial buildings and housing.

Take a look at FEM Ltd’s case studies to discover a handful of the many ways we have supported clients with their bespoke steel fabrications.

What to look for when finding a steel fabrication company near you?

Steel beam fabrication may not be the most exciting part of a new construction project, but getting it right is vital for safety, compliance, timing of the project and good value.

Here are some of the things to look for when choosing a steel beam fabrication firm:

  • Accreditation – compliance with all necessary industry standards is a ‘must’.
  • Reviews – check to see what previous customers have said about their reliability.
  • Experience – having years of knowledge behind them is really important.
  • Bespoke solutions – no two jobs are the same, so ensuring you go with a company that will look at your project on an individual basis is vital to the success and value for money of the steel beams you require.

How can FEM Ltd help with steel beam fabrication projects?

Whatever the project you require steel beam fabrication for – whether it’s a local venture for schoolchildren or at various sites for thousands of your customers – we pride ourselves on a high level client experience for all.

The process begins simply with an idea. We’ll work with you to understand what the idea is, what you need it for, and whether steel beam fabrication is the best metal fabrication solution for your project.

FEM Ltd’s fabrication engineers will then pass over the idea, a design and a drawing to our in-house estimating department for a technical review; which ensures that we have everything required to carry out the project in terms of machinery and accreditation.

Should steel beam fabrication be required through our bespoke fabrication service, our team will be on hand to guide you through the process from start to finish; giving realistic timescales, expert advice, and of course delivery of the finished product in accordance with all current health and safety legislation.

Do you need a steel beam fabrication supplier near you?

FEM Ltd has decades of experience as a specialist steel fabrication company based in Rotherham, close to Sheffield. Our team of knowledgeable engineers can talk you through the process of steel beam fabrication and our bespoke steel fabrication service.

Pop your details into our Free Quote form above; give the team a call on 01909 774 836; or email us at to chat through how we can support you with the steel beam fabrication for your next construction project.


What is spot welding?

Spot welding is often considered to be a fairly simple process for welding sheet metal. However, if you aren’t familiar with the technique and are quite new to it, there are a number of things that can go wrong. That’s where we come in. This article will help you get to grips with spot welding, what it is, how it works, and where you would use it, so you can get a better insight into it when looking for experts to carry out your bespoke fabrication project.  

What is spot welding? 

Spot welding involves overlapping metals being joined between two copper alloy electrodes. Pressure and electric current are applied to the area you want to weld and the internal resistance to the current creates the level of heat that is needed to successfully complete the weld.  

The heat helps to melt the metal and fuse the materials and form a welding joint that takes the shape of a button or “nugget”. This is where the name spot welding originates from as the electric current is used on one small part of the surface of the metal.  

How does spot welding work? 

The key parts of the spot welding process are successfully melting the metal as quickly as possible whilst at the same time using enough pressure to allow the metals to fuse. Ultimately this is done with high current but low voltage pulses sent to the electrodes that will create that resistance and heat. Let’s look at each stage in more detail. 

Set up the metals correctly 

The very first thing you need to do is overlap the sheets of metal and make sure they are secured in the correct position. This will allow you to apply the level of pressure and electric current needed without the metals shifting and trying to weld in the wrong place. If this does occur, it will be better to simply start again with new metal. Based on the type of machine you have; the pressure can be applied to the metal in different ways.  

Apply the pressure and current 

Next you should be ready to add the pressure and current to the area between the electrodes. In most cases standard copper electrodes will be used but certain metal types will need different electrodes like tungsten or molybdenum. When the metal melts, it will likely get to around 2000C, which is higher than the temperature it needs to be in order to fuse.  

Cooling the weld 

The last step in the spot welding process is letting the nugget cool and become solid. As this happens the electrodes support the metal and only stop being in contact with it when the metal has fully solidified.  

Uses of spot welding 

Spot welding can be beneficial in a number of industries, but it is mostly found in vehicle production. This is because the automotive industry depends on processes that are cost effective, reliable, and fast, and spot welding ticks all of those boxes. Robots are placed on assembly lines to spot weld car parts automatically as they can achieve the high level of precision needed and the process is easily repeatable, so all the completed parts look the same. Other places spot welding can be used include: 

  • Kitchenware 
  • Electronics 
  • Manufacturing of nails 
  • Medical uses e.g., attaching dental implants 


Spot welding is a very specific process that is mostly used with sheet metal and is great in certain applications. However, in contrast to MIG or TIG welding, it can’t be applied to a broad range of uses.  

Looking for a fabrication company in Sheffield? 

If you have an upcoming project and need expert fabrication in Sheffield, FEM can help. Our team of engineers have extensive knowledge and experience in many processes relating to fabrication and welding and perfectly meeting our clients’ requirements. Contact us today to discuss your metal fabrication needs and how our services can benefit you. 

Types of structural steel and their uses

Where would the world be without structural steel? It is one of the most popular construction materials for big building projects in the world. However, that isn’t the only industry you will find this metal. It’s flexibility in the types of steel you can get, and the wide range of beneficial properties lend well to a variety of uses that we will be exploring in more detail in this article.  

What are the different types of structural steel? 

As mentioned above, structural steel doesn’t just come in one form and the different types emphasise different benefits that allow the steel to fit in with various applications and uses in industries. The most commonly use type commercially is carbon steel. This is because when more carbon makes up the metal (up to 2% earns the title of ultrahigh carbon steel and is the maximum) it improves its overall strength and durability. We’ll look at some other examples of popular steel types below.  

High strength micro-alloyed steel 

In this type of steel, alloys like manganese, nickel, or chromium are added to improve its strength, ductility, and corrosion resistance. Different elements can be added to alter the properties of the metal to the desired effect.  

Weathering steels 

Weathering steels are a sub-category of the previous steel in this list and focus on creating the best possible resistance to outdoor elements. Given that many industries need their metal to be weather-resistant, this is one of the most valuable forms of steel and is largely used in fabrication and construction.  

Quenched and tempered steel 

Heat treatment is used to create this steel with the outcome being increased strength, which is why it is often used in buildings.  

Fire-resistant steel 

When using steel for structural purposes there are situations where they could be more at risk to fires. To combat this, a fire-resistant steel is created by thermos mechanically treating the metal.  

Real-world uses of structural steel 

Thanks to its broad range of useful benefits like low cost, high strength and longevity, corrosion resistance and more, structural has found its place in many key industries and efficiency has improved because of it.  


Aircraft undercarriages, anchor chains, trains, rails, and ships are just a few examples of the essential products structural steel is used to manufacture in the transport sector.  


The energy sector uses structural steel in a wide variety of applications. It can be found in many industrial buildings as well as several different energy sources like transmission towers, pipelines, wind turbines, electromagnets, and more.  


Structural steel is a big part of the mining industry with a significant part of the substructure being reinforced using steel. Other important parts of mining that feature structural steel include offices, workshops, and mining screens. The main reason behind this is that the smooth surface of the metal makes it easy to clean, meaning it won’t interact with any elements found in the mine.  


Structural steel is resistant to external pressure and stay in their required shapes for the long term. This is particularly advantageous in the marine industry where the products are often exposed to the natural elements. Submarines, boats, ladders, and stairs all include structural steel in some way.  

Where can I find structural steel fabricators near me? 

If you’re looking for professional and experienced structural steel fabricators for your project in Sheffield, the team at FEM are here to help. We have worked with clients in a wide range of industries to create high quality bespoke steel fabrication products that perfect fit with their requirements, and we can do the same for you. Contact us today to discuss your bespoke metal fabrication needs. 


The thermal efficiency of aluminium framework

Energy efficiency is an essential consideration for all construction projects, now more than ever with the effort to reduce climate change and carbon footprint. When it comes to buildings whether they are residential or commercial, doors, windows, and frameworks are key contributors to heat loss and high energy costs, so choosing the right material is extremely important. In this article, we will be exploring the impressive thermal efficiency of an aluminium framework and why aluminium fabrication is so important in maintaining thermal efficiency.  

Why does thermal efficiency matter? 

Thermal efficiency and the performance of framework is important in two ways: high thermal efficiency will help to save money on energy bills thanks to less heat escaping and, as mentioned above it reduces carbon footprint by keeping a building warmer, so the heating doesn’t need to be on as much. Equally, the thermal performance of aluminium windows and doors can be beneficial in the summer too by preventing heat from getting in, so the property can be kept at a reasonable temperature no matter the season.  

Explaining R and U values 

You might have already heard of R and U values as they play a key role in measuring the energy efficiency of both windows and doors. If you can’t decide which materials to use on a project the R and U values could be the influencing factor as the better the measurements, the more energy efficient the finished product will be. All parts of a product can be given these values so you can fairly compare aluminium with other materials like uPVC or timber.  

The difference between a U-value and an R-value is a U-value measures how good the product is at stopping heat from escaping. So, the lower the U-value is the less heat that has been lost and the better the efficiency is. By contrast the R-value comes from things like the type and thickness of the material and ultimately measures to what degree the material can prevent heat loss. Therefore, in the case of R-values, the higher the number the better.  

U-value is the most important measurement with the legal requirement being 1.6 W/(m2K) or below when new windows are being installed onto an existing building. High quality aluminium frames will almost always have a U-value that is less than this.  

How important is the framework for saving energy? 

The type of glass you use can make a significant difference to how thermally efficient your finished product is. Even though it might not seem like it because it is a smaller area than the glass and its main function is providing structural integrity, the frame is just as important in aluminium fabrication door designs and windows for maintaining heat.  

Aluminium frames on windows and doors are fairly new to the market and haven’t always had the best reputation for thermal efficiency, especially in comparison to materials that have always been widely used like wood. However, time and advancements in technology have led to aluminium being fabricated in a way that achieves and even exceeds the standard for energy efficiency and is a much more cost-effective option than its timber counterparts.  

This is thanks to a process called thermal breaking which utilises a resin filled channel and placing a reinforced polyamide bar in between the aluminium profiles to form an insulated wall in the framework. As a result, temperature and sound will escape at a much slower rate than with normal aluminium.  

Other benefits of aluminium 

As well as modern aluminium fabrication leading to high levels of thermal efficiency, the metal has many other properties and benefits that make it ideal for use in windows and doors. The most valued examples include its reduced cost (particularly when compared to market alternatives), its sustainability and easy recyclability that benefits the environment, and its overall strength and durability which is useful not only against various weather conditions and corrosion but also helps with security and making it more difficult for a building to be broken into.  

You can find out more about the benefits of aluminium, particularly in relation to windows and doors, in one of our other guides. Click here to learn more.  


Aluminium is one of the best materials on the market for thermal efficiency thanks to the fabrication work that goes into it to make it that way. If you’re looking for the highest quality aluminium fabrication services for your next project, our team at FEM can help. Contact us today to discuss your requirements and learn more about what we can do for you with our bespoke fabrication processes. 

FEM sponsor local football team

FEM are proud to announce we’ve sponsored our local football team Kiverton miners FC U12’. We are keen to support local kids’ clubs with sporting activities at their centre.

This newly created team are in their first season and are already top of the league and aiming for promotion!

The passion of the coaching staff and the time they invest are a massive part of the success of the team and the positive environment they have created:

Manager: Adam Travis
Assistant manager: Dougie Travis
Coach: Ali Nicklin
U12 treasurer: John Watkinson

Catering staff:
Jackie Travis
Kim Travis
Christine Watkinson

Good luck for the rest of the season lads!

Sheet metal hemming explained

Hemming is a sheet metal fabrication process in which the edges are folded over each other. The aim of it is to give the edges more strength, improve the visual aesthetic, join different parts together, and cover any rough edges or burrs/defects. In this article, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about sheet metal hemming including the benefits of the process and the different types of hem. Let’s start by looking at hemming in more detail.  

What is sheet metal hemming? 

Like the name suggests, sheet metal hemming does resemble edge stitching on clothes. When the edge of sheet metal is hemmed, its strength is reinforced to give it better longevity and accuracy during the process is essential for a better surface quality and appearance ahead of its application upon completion. A common use for sheet metal hemming is in the production of car parts, including the doors, bonnet, and boot lid. This is because it is extremely useful for connecting two metal parts together.  

What are the benefits of hemming? 

There are several benefits to using sheet metal hemming including strengthening the edges of the metal, covering imperfections, making the edges easier and safer to work with, and joining parts together. This all works together to create a product that will be high-quality and long lasting in various industries.  

Breaking down the main hemming processes 

Conventional die hemming 

This type of hemming is the most commonly used for fabrication of straightforward and flat panels on a mass production scale as it is more restricted to simple pieces. It requires several stages, often referred to as pre-hemming and final hemming to bend the complete length of the metal and predetermined angles with a hemming tool. Despite the production of conventional die hemming being very costly, especially when buying the equipment, there are ways to minimise cycle times significantly.  

Roll hemming 

A hemming roller is used to carry out this process in small parts. Due to the accuracy and technicality required it is often done with robots so the roller can precisely create the flange. By contrast to die hemming, roll hemming is considered to be much more flexible, economical, and less expensive, but the cycle times can be a lot higher due to the roller needing to follow a vert strict path to achieve its goal to the highest possible standard.  

What are the different types of hem? 

Closed hem 

In a closed hem, the folded over part of the metal lies completely flat on top of the other metal surface with no air pocket or gap in between them. More tonnage is needed to make a closed hem than other hems, meaning thicker sheets of metal should be avoided in this process as they could start to crack.  

Open hem 

When the metal is folded over, a gap or air pocket is left between the metal, with the bend sitting at an angle of 180 degrees. Not as much tonnage is required to create this hem in comparison to a closed hem.  

These are the two main types of hem that you need to know about, there are others, but these are the most commonly used.   

What is the difference between hemming and seaming? 

As well as hemming, there is another similar process in this area of metal fabrication called seaming. You will often find seaming being used in the food industry as it is very effective in sealing tinned items thanks to its ability to cut off one side of the sheet metal from another. Even though they can be considered as quite similar, seaming is different to hemming in a few notable ways including: 

  • In most cases they will be used differently for example, the hemming process features heavily in vehicle production and some other general uses. Seaming on the other hand is more specialised and has its role in food and roofing sectors for which hemming would not be suitable.   
  • There will always be a gap in the seaming process, it doesn’t create a fully flat style of hem.  
  • The goal of seaming is simply to join two parts together, the strength of the edges, the look and quality of the end result is not as important as it is with hemming.  

Where can I find sheet metal fabrication near me? 

If you’re looking for high quality bespoke metal fabrication, our team at FEM can help. The range of products we make are diverse and span across a range of sectors from structural fabrications, offshore oil, and gas, nuclear, and many others. We have accreditations in place to ensure there is full traceability of all materials while manufacturing metal to a specified standard. Contact us today to discuss the specific requirements of your project. 





Why you should use mild steel for fabrication

When it comes to factors like versatility and cost-effectiveness, not many metals can offer as good a performance as mild steel. As the world’s most common type of steel, it has broad applications and is relied upon in daily life, thanks to its ability to be cut exactly to size and modified to suit where it is needed during the mild steel fabrication process. In this article, we will be exploring the benefits of mild steel as well as why it should be used for fabrication. 


First, what is mild steel? 

Mild steel is a form of low carbon steel, meaning it contains only a small percentage of carbon. Carbon content in steel can vary depending on the desired characteristics; with low carbon steels containing 0.05 – 0.25% carbon, increasing the properties of pure iron. 

Even though there are different grades of mild steel, they all have carbon levels that fall within the above-mentioned range. Inclusion of additional components enhances useful characteristics of steel, like anti-corrosion, abrasion-resistance, and strength. 


What are the benefits of mild steel? 


Mild steel is the least expensive of all steel types with many everyday objects being created from it such as vehicle chassis, motorbike frames, and a lot of kitchenware. The reason for its affordability is its carbon content, making it strong enough for a variety of jobs without being costly tensile. When it is needed for large orders, high quality mild steel fabrication companies like FEM can produce it en masse with a much lower cost than other steels, ensuring the best possible results and happy customers. 


In comparison to high-carbon steel, it is far easier for mild steel to be coalesced. Due to certain properties the metal has, electric currents can move through it without altering its ‘makeup’. This is different to other metals like stainless steel, where special techniques are required to ensure it is welded to a professional standard. This lessens expenses for labour and electricity, plus provides a solid end product from its simple fabrication. 


Ductility measures how much a material can be deformed by elongation without it breaking. These materials can stretch up to 15% of their original form before irreversibly changing and no longer returning to their initial shape. Along with materials like copper and thermoplastics, mild steel is able to bend, stretch and have reasonably large forces applied to it, making it easier for form, shape, and weld as needed. 


A key benefit of most steels, including mild steel, is that it can be indefinitely recycled without losing its quality. Thanks to its magnetic properties as well, mild steel is especially easy to recover from unsorted waste and scrapped mild steel is essential to be able to produce more of it. Recycling scrap metal as much as possible is much cheaper than mining iron ore and processing it to create more. 


Why should mild steel be used for fabrication? 

When considering the benefits of mild steel above, it’s easy to see why mild steel is used in fabrication. It’s a key part of a wide range of industries and its useful properties and cost effectiveness make it a popular choice over other types of steel. To understand the importance of why it is used in fabrication, take a look at the list of a few examples of mild steel products and uses in various industries: 

  • Steel frame buildings- mild steel is commonly used for construction frame materials because of the high strength beams. 
  • Gates and fencing- two products where high security and aesthetic appeal are important, mild steel offers both of these important qualities. Low carbon steel is difficult to break and can be painted, primed, or galvanised to be corrosion resistant and provide a decorative finish. 
  • Machinery parts- one of the most sought-after traits of low carbon steel is malleability, which makes it well suited to use during production of sheet metals within car body kits and other key machinery components. 
  • Pipelines- mild steel is a top choice for creating steel pipes for various projects. This is because of their impressive ductility and being easy to weld whilst flexible enough not to break under pressure. Mild steel pipes can also be insulated to ensure their performance in colder weather, improving the long-term quality of the pipework. 
  • Structural steel- Low carbon steel is suitable for structural steel fabrication as it has consistent yield strength and is malleable. These properties and the cost-effectiveness of the metal means mild steel can sometimes be preferable over structural steel in smaller applications. 


If you’re looking for high quality mild steel fabrication UK, our team of experienced engineers at FEM can help. Contact us today to discuss your project requirements and we will deliver impressive, bespoke metal work that goes above and beyond your expectations. 

Why aluminium is the top metal for doors and windows

With the harsh cold of winter starting to fully kick in, you will probably start feeling the effects in your home and workplace. These effects can be significantly improved by using high quality aluminium fabrication for your doors and windows. Aluminium is an extremely popular choice for doors and windows and given the impressive benefits it offers, there’s no surprise as to why. In this article, we’ll be exploring the advantages of aluminium and hence the reasons why it is the go-to metal for modern doors and windows. 


Light weight 

Aluminium is a very light weight metal, coming in at 2.7g/cm3 which is around one third of steel or copper. It is actually one of the lightest metals commercially available on the market. This makes it great for window and door frames as the last thing you need when opening and closing your windows or doors is to struggle with how heavy they are. 


Corrosion resistant and low maintenance 

A key concern when purchasing windows and doors is whether they will deteriorate over time and face the challenge of corrosion. You don’t have to worry about this with aluminium though as when it comes into contact with air, a protective layer of aluminium oxide is created on the surface. This layer is highly resistant to corrosion no matter what the weather throws at it, and it won’t be damaged by any cleaning products either. 

Also, unlike timber or uPVC frames, aluminium fabrication door designs won’t swell, crack, split, or warp over the years. Corrosion protection can be solidified even further by anodising or painting (normally by powder coating) the surface. Cleaning aluminium will only require the occasional wipe with a damp cloth or soap water. It doesn’t take much effort to keep them looking fresh and new no matter how many years you have them. 


Malleable and strong 

Aluminium can be easily bent, pressed into shape, or drawn out into a thin wire without compromising any of its strength and without cracking or breaking. It is the second most malleable metal and the sixth most ductile, which is ideal for windows and doors. This is because the aluminium frame profiles can be easily bent or pressed into the desired shape without any risk of them breaking, making customisation much easier. 


Fully recyclable 

Aluminium is quite unique when it comes to recycling metals. It is 100% recyclable, and the quality of the recycled aluminium is exactly the same as the original metal. This means it can be recycled over and over again, which is especially advantageous from an environmental and sustainability point of view with a smaller carbon footprint and lower costs. Nearly 75% of all aluminium that has ever been produced is still being used today. 


Thermal efficiency 

As well as being a good conductor, aluminium is known for being a great insulator too, due to it reflecting the radiation of heat back to its source, like how aluminium foil keeps your food warm. Keeping the heat in is essential at this time of year, not only to stop your house or office feeling the cold but also to save you money on your energy bills. The thermal insulation features of aluminium are advantageous in summer too. If you want efficiency and value for money over the long term, aluminium fabricated windows and doors are your best option. 



Aluminium windows and doors have excellent sound insulating properties, which is a benefit many other materials can’t provide. They have fusion-welded joints that ensure the overall sealing of frames and stop entry of external noise. So, by choosing aluminium fabrication you can get a quiet, relaxing, and stress-environment in your home or workplace. 


Aesthetically appealing and customisable 

Aluminium can be easily anodised, or powder coated to give it a decorative smooth or textured finish. This, alongside the natural look of aluminium itself, mean that your new doors and windows will only be high performing in all the key areas, but they will look modern and stylish too. 


If you’re looking for professional, high-quality aluminium fabrication services or any other metal fabrication contact FEM today. Our team have extensive experience in the industry we pride ourselves on exceeding customer expectations with every bespoke fabrication project we do. 


What is metal extrusion?

Stock material and custom metal work come in a wide variety of cross-sections, many of which will have been created using the process of metal extrusion. The importance of metal extrusion can’t be understated as products that are made this way can be found in a range of industries such as construction, manufacturing, retail, information technology, and more. 

Having even a surface level understanding of some of the key metal fabrication and manufacturing methods as well as their capabilities can be helpful to engineers. Therefore, in this article, we’ll be exploring what exactly metal extrusion is, a quick history of it, types of extrusion processes etc. 


Brief history of metal extrusion 

The process was invented by Joseph Bramah in 1797 when he pushed soft metal through a die using a hand-driven plunger to create metal pipes. Joseph Bramah also went on to develop the very first hydraulic press for Thomas Burr in 1820. This hydraulic press produced the first lead pipes that transformed the metal manufacturing industry. 


What is metal extrusion? 

The extrusion process involves forcing a metal (hot or cold) through a die which then imparts the die shape to the extruded metal as it moves through the cavity. When the material emerges from the die it is referred to as “extrudate”. The metal experiences compressive and shear stress in order to be moulded into the die shape.  

The nature of these forces and the increased temperatures mean materials can be formed with otherwise brittle properties using this process. It’s not just metals that are suitable for extrusion, non-metals like ceramic, plastic, clay, concrete, and polymers can be used in the process. 

Key features 

  • Extrusion is an inexpensive process thanks to less waste and having a high rate of production. 
  • It can make brittle materials because of only applying compressive and shear forces on the billet. 
  • Products possess elongated grain structure in material direction and a smooth surface, reducing post-treatment.  
  • Thin wall thicknesses achievable via extrusion: 3mm steel, 1mm aluminium. 
  • The process forms very complex cross-sections with a uniform wall thickness throughout the product. 


What is the process of metal extrusion? 

The extrusion has evolved and been through a number of changes since its initial invention. This process is used to give consistent material input for 3D printing and other additive manufacturing applications, in addition to extruding final products. The material is then deposited one layer at a time to form the desired product. Extrusion is very important and beneficial when it comes to bespoke metal fabrication. Read on to see the steps of a generic metal extrusion process below. 

Preparing feed metal 

The billet/ingot is the feed metal that functions as the raw material. It’s important to note that feed metal has to adhere to specific standards set by the designers. Normally it will have a circular or square profile, but it can have other shapes too. The feed metal itself is formed with methods like hot rolling or continuous casting. 

Getting ready for extrusion 

The raw material goes into an extrusion machine such as a press, heated (hot extrusion) or not (cold extrusion) depending on the method used. 


Next the extrusion itself can take place by putting compressive force that pushes the material towards the die, which has a small opening. In response to the high pressure, the metal leaves the die through that opening, taking the shape of the die during the process. As soon as this is done, pressure is released, and the next step can begin.  

Heat treatment and post-processing 

Heat treatment is the next part of the process as the product needs to have its properties improved and get it ready for its service conditions. The heat treatment process will differ depending on the metal. For example, if using aluminium, the extruded part is cooled first, then stretched and cut to the required lengths. The pieces then go through ageing where they are heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and held for four hours so that they harden. 


What are the different types of extrusion processes? 

There are several different types of metal extrusion forms that can be used, and while the main principles stay the same, they are applied differently to successfully create a range of bespoke metal fabrication products. All metal extrusion processes can come under one of the following categories.  

Hot extrusion 

In hot extrusion, the metal is fed above its recrystallisation temperature to soften the metal and allow it to flow through the die opening. The high working temperature stops the material from going through work hardening and the pressure level means that it is necessary to use a lubricant. Setup for hot extrusion is costly to buy and maintain, so it is only really profitable for large scale products. 

Cold extrusion 

When extrusion is done at room temperature it is known as cold extrusion. The method stays the same as hot extrusion except the material isn’t heated at all, or only marginally before the process is started. Advantages of cold extrusion include shorter batch timings, finer tolerances, a smoother surface finish, and lack of oxidation. Disadvantages are the potential need for more power due to the material being difficult to work with, the mechanical properties of the material can change during the process, and it takes longer at lower temperatures. 

Warm extrusion 

Warm extrusion is when the process is completed between room temperature and recrystallisation temperature of the metal. Compared to the previous processes, warm extrusion provides benefits like more control over extrudate properties e.g., ductility. The temperature never goes above the critical melting point at any time during the metal forming process. 

Friction extrusion 

The heat generated by friction between the die and feed metal is used to heat the latter during friction extrusion. Therefore, the feed metal doesn’t need any pre-heating, but it uses the internal energy to increase the extrusion temperature. Despite being previously overlooked, this type of process has gained more attention recently thanks to its benefits in additive manufacturing. 


This process produces parts of the small, sub-meter range that are intended for special applications, but it does require small dies and rams, which is difficult with stringent accuracy requirements. The end result of microextrusion will fit within a 1mm square. Other issues arise when working with small products like grain boundaries and structure, deformation defects, and creating stability. 


If you need expert metal fabrication in Sheffield, contact us at FEM today. Our team have extensive experience in the industry and strive to create the highest quality products for our customers.

Why is steel used in the automotive industry?

Steel is a metal that is heavily used across the engineering landscape. There are a number of different alloys that can be produced for multiple applications across industries. The automotive industry is one example of a landscape that has many uses for steel alloys, like mild steel in various components within vehicles. In this guide, we’ll be answering why steel is such a key part of the automotive industry and the benefits of it within this area. 

Why steel is used in the automotive industry?

Mild steel fabrication and the automotive industry go hand in hand as mild steel is the least expensive and most broadly used of all metals in this sector. This means it’s always a go-to for automotive projects that require a large amount of metal. 

As well as suiting a car maker’s desire for lightweight vehicles (a must for making cars as fuel efficient as possible), but it is also very affordable and with the right steel fabrication work, can be engineered in many different ways to meet requirements for crash safety and performance. 

The unique flexibility of steel doesn’t take away from its strength or deflect energy if a collision does happen, and as you probably already know, the importance of impact resistance in car manufacturing cannot be understated. 

Another reason mild steel is used so extensively in the automotive industry is it exhibits what’s known as ‘ferromagnetism’. This essentially is the basic mechanism by which specific materials can be turned into permanent magnets. When at room temperature, the atoms in mild steel are organised to create a structure that is mostly ferrite (which is magnetic). Car parts are often made from mild steel because of their attractive potential. 

What is steel used for in the automotive industry? 

In the case of a large number of vehicles, the composition of it is more than 50% made of steel. The majority of this steel is located in the skeletal body of the car, often referred to as the ‘body in white’ which is the foundation for the rest of the vehicle to be created.  

High-quality steel fabrication companies like our team at FEM, can shape and develop steel products for automotives in a range of ways to ensure it adheres to safety regulations and any other requirements the manufacturer needs. 

Benefits of steel in automotives 

Steel has been the metal of choice for pretty much all vehicles since the days of horses and carriages and there are many benefits that explain why. 

It’s predictable 

Fabricators and manufacturers are very familiar with the features and characteristics of steel when used in cars. There is a deeper understanding of the metal and how it will respond in nearly any automotive application. As a result, there is certainty and predictability with steel that guarantees all vehicles that are produced will be of the highest possible standard. 

It can easily be reshaped and restored 

In the event that a steel vehicle takes collision damage, it can be effectively reshaped back into its original form thanks to its inherent “memory”. The physical structure can be restored without more advanced technologies being required. Also, steel can be easily welded, cut, and joined with standard welding equipment and fabrication. 

No special joints are needed when crafted into a vehicle 

Manufacturing vehicles requires professional bespoke fabrication to ensure everything looks and performs how it should and problems like galvanic corrosion are avoided. Whilst good in some cases and industries, if galvanic corrosion happens in a vehicle it will lead to the eventual disintegration of elements as electrons move. When automotive structural parts are made of steel, the manufacturer doesn’t need to worry about preventing possible corrosion by using special, insulated joints. 


As you can see, steel is very beneficial to the automotive industry, so it is no surprise as to why it is one of the most favoured metals. At FEM, we specialise in various types of bespoke metal fabrication including mild and stainless steel fabrication to name a few examples. If you’re looking for metal fabrication services get in touch with us today to discuss the requirements of your project.