What are the different types of metal finishes?

Metal finishing is the last, but very important step in the metal fabrication process, preparing the products to be used. On their own, a lot of metals can’t perform long term the way we would want them to. This is where finishes come in.  

The process allows new properties to be added to the metals, for example, electrical, chemical, heat, and corrosion resistance. Additionally, metal finishing improves visual aesthetics and offers an extra level of durability. The type of metal finish needed, depends on the intended use for the product. 

Choosing the right metal finish  

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a finishing method for your metal work. The term metal finishing includes more than one execution process. This means there are multiple ways to achieve the metal finish required. Some key questions to think about when choosing the right finish include: 

  • Which finishing process works best with your products intended use? 
  • Is the metal finishing service right for the materials used in your project? 
  • Can the finishing technique keep up with the demands of your production speed? 
  • Is the metal finish the most cost-effective solution without affecting the quality of the end product? 

What are some examples of metal finishings? 


Also referred to as metal plating, electroplating is one of the most common metal finishing services available. Electroplating involves a thin layer of metal being coated onto a substrate. This is normally because the original part doesn’t have the properties to work on its own.  

So, a suitable metal coating is applied to improve the performance of the product. The electroplating technique offers several benefits that will vary depending on the type of metal coating used. Some examples include, added strength, durability, corrosion resistance, and visual appeal, to name a few. 


Galvanising is the process of adding a protective zinc coating to a metal. The layer of zinc is applied by dipping the product into a bath of zinc solution. It is a process that is best suited to products made of steel and therefore popular with steel fabricators 

This is because when molten, zinc reacts with steel and sticks to it to create a protective seal. Even if some of the metal is damaged, the seal is strong enough to protect the other areas. Zinc coating is a very cost-effective solution that extends the life expectancy of steel products. 

Powder coating 

Powder coating is a great option for products that require the best visual aesthetic. It is double the thickness of paint which is why it is considered to be a much more durable solution for finishing metals. The process involves melting the powder and applying it to surfaces in a range of colours and textures.  

Powder coating is the best choice for parts that have regular movement as it effortlessly yields when added to the material. Products that have powder coating are less likely to chip but unlike paint, they are more difficult to touch up. 


Even though the process of anodising is similar to electroplating, it is actually the opposite. Electroplating can be carried out on several different metals, whereas anodising is specifically suited to aluminium. Also, anodising changes the molecular composition of the product’s surface and offers key benefits.  

These include reducing wear and tear, boosting resistance to corrosion, and forming a stronger finish. This metal finish is colourless, but dyes can be added if a visual appeal is needed for the product. 


There are many different metal finishes that will be better suited to different projects than others. If you’re looking for metal fabrication in Sheffield, contact our friendly team at FEM today to discuss your requirements. 


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Pros and cons of laser cutting

Cutting is one of the most basic and widely used processes in the metal fabrication industry. Over time as technology has advanced, laser cutting has become the go-to technology to carry out cutting tasks because it has a number of advantages over other methods. However, it does have a few disadvantages too. In this article, we’ll be discussing both the pros and the cons of laser cutting so you can get a balanced understanding of the process if you need fabrication in Sheffield. 

The pros of laser cutting 

Engineers often prefer to use laser cutting due to the long list of pros it offers. Let’s look at some of the most important ones below: 


Laser cutting doesn’t need tools to be exchanged for each separate cut. The same setting can cut multiple different shapes within the same material thickness, saving a lot of time and energy as well as allowing you to be flexible. Also, the intricate cuts don’t cause any issues. 


Accuracy and precision are two of the main advantages of laser cutting in comparison to other thermal cutting processes. An accuracy of +/-0.1mm gives you the chance to achieve a high level of precision without requiring any after treatment. In a lot of cases, working to such a high standard means no extra tolerances are necessary. 

Easy repeatability 

+/-0.05mm means parts can be cut accurately that need to be pretty much exact copies of each other. 

Quick process 

Laser cutting is much faster than traditional methods of mechanical cutting, especially when it comes to completing more complicated cuts and projects. In comparison to other thermal cutting methods such as plasma or flame cutting, laser is the front runner in terms of speed, but only up to a certain thickness, which is about 10mm. Although, the exact advantage point will come down to the power of the laser cutter. 


The process requires little manpower because modern laser cutting machinery is designed to be easily automated. Experienced machine operators like our expert team of local metal fabricators still play a key role in the overall quality.  

However, the speed of the cutter and little demand for manual labour ensure lower costs in comparison to other cutting methods. Some machines even have feeding systems alongside follow-up conveyors. Naturally, these setups mean a higher priced laser cutting machine. 


With the correct setup, laser cutters will only leave a small burr and most of the time it doesn’t need removing. However, this will depend on the material, its thickness, and a few other factors. Another benefit is having a small heat affected zone. This means that as the microstructure along the HAZ changes, a smaller HAZ area leads to more predictable and dependable parts. 

Contactless cutting 

During the laser cutting process, only the beam touches the material. So, there is no friction from the machinery that could damage the tools, which will save you a lot of time and money on replacing tools further down the line.


This is one of the most important pros of laser cutting, its versatility can be demonstrated in two key ways. Firstly, laser cutting can be used for a wide range of different materials. Examples include various metals, MDF, acrylic, wood, paper, etc. One machine can be programmed to carry out different jobs, but the ability of cutting some of the materials will come down to the power of your machine. 

A lot of laser cutters aren’t just used for cutting. They can also be used for laser marking which has many applications when creating everyday products. Finally, the technology is appropriate for use in a variety of profiles. Tube laser cutting for example, can carry out the process on anything from box sections to open channels. 

The cons of laser cutting 

Despite it being used to make parts for almost every industry, laser cutting does have some drawbacks that need to be considered. 

High level of expertise needed 

As previously mentioned, a specialist operator is needed to ensure the most is made of the laser cutter’s potential. The right configuration will guarantee the cutting quality is always up to the high standard that is expected from this modern technology. 

Metal thickness limitations 

When looking at laser cutting in relation to other thermal cutting methods, it’s not the best option for cutting very thick plates. The largest thickness that will be suitable depends on the machinery available and the skills on hand. As a rough guide, metal is often laser cut up to 15 or 20mm. 

Upfront costs 

Laser cutting machines are extremely expensive to purchase, they can be double the cost of waterjet or plasma cutters. Even though the running costs and high efficiency do make up for it in the long run, the initial investment in laser cutting machinery is very big. 

Emission of fumes 

As we’ve seen, one of the benefits of laser cutting is its versatility in being able to cut different materials. However, the thermal cutting method often leads to emitted gases and dangerous fumes being dispersed. This is especially relevant when cutting plastic. Therefore, a high quality but normally expensive ventilation system will be needed in order to have a safe working environment.

Metal Fabrication in Sheffield

Despite a few minor downsides, it’s clear to see that laser cutting has more pros and is highly beneficial to the metal fabrication industry. If you’re looking for metal fabrication in Sheffield, contact the team at FEM today.

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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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History of sheet metal fabrication

Metal fabrication has a long history dating all the way back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Sheet metal fabrication, however, didn’t come into play until much later. In this article, we’ll be exploring the history of metal fabrication and how it eventually formed into the methods of sheet metal fabrication UK we recognise today.

Iron working and the early days of metal

The introduction of ironworking in Greece back in the late 10th century BC kicked off the Iron Age in Europe. The Ancient Greeks made basic armour and weapons by hammering iron ore. By contrast, the Roman Empire increased mining for iron and started producing spoons, saucepans, door fittings, and several other items that still use sheet metal today.

Even though the Greeks and Romans propelled the production of iron forward, it was in India where steel manufacturing began in small amounts. This was perceived as a highly-skilled art and very labour intensive – so much so that steel was prized and sought after for several centuries.

Damascus steel swords in particular, were considered to be the best on the market as they were strong and could be sharpened to a fine but durable edge. The skill of making Damascus steel was lost, and even with modern technology and advanced manufacturing techniques, recent attempts to recreate it have failed.

Skipping ahead a bit to the medieval era reveals the production of cast iron in Europe (it has been made in China since the 5th century BC but not very much of it). It was during the medieval period that production techniques became more refined, and it saw the manufacturing of wrought iron in big quantities using water-powered bellows.

Towards the tail end of this time period and at the beginning of the Renaissance, the theories that have influenced modern processes of sheet metal fabrication started to fall into place, the main one being the rolling mill.

The cold rolling mill and Leonardo da Vinci

There is no evidence that Leonardo da Vinci ever built the rolling mill he designed, despite records of his sketches for such a project. The idea for the mill was introduced in the early 16th century as a way to smooth metal to a consistent depth. However, it’s not until the 17th century that we see proof of a rolling mill being used to manufacture thinner precision sheet metal than what could be made with hammers.

There is written evidence that in the late 17th century, sheet metal was produced in a way that sheet metal fabricators would recognise today. This being a cold bar being rolled and made into thin sheet metal parts.

The Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution was the key turning point for metal history in the 18th century. Abraham Darby initially started fabricating iron using coke for the smelting process and achieved his aim of making thin, durable, and cheap cast iron. The introduction of the new process led to a major increase in cast-iron production in Europe and was a key factor in the onset of the industrial revolution.

It was during the industrial revolution when the production of steel began to dominate the sector. Henry Bessemer developed a process that made it possible to mass-produce steel cheaply. This steel was used extensively during the industrial revolution for things like railway tracks and ships. It was quickly understood that steel offered better strength and durability.

Manufacturing sheet metal became self-fulfilling during the industrial revolution. As engineering and machinery soared it was essential that metal could be easily formed, cut, and joined to create steam engines for a wide variety of uses. Steam engines were then used to produce increasingly bigger and thinner metal and the cycle continued.

Inexpensive sheet metal fabrication

After the industrial revolution, sheet metal could easily be made at a low cost. Different types of sheet metal were introduced, with varying levels of carbon, alloys, and other additions. All of this led to a surge in the use of sheet metal that steel fabricators still see today.

The sheet metal industry started to see new ways of working with metal, with the abundance of different, inexpensive metals. Whilst the basics like forming and punching have been adapted over time to offer impressive accuracy and quality, there have also been a lot of modern advancements such as laser-cutting and rapid prototyping.

Modern techniques

Now we’ve reached the modern day and the evolution of sheet metal fabrication continues to grow from its humble beginnings, playing a key role in our everyday lives. New methods and processes are being discovered and tools are becoming more precise to improve accuracy and quality.

For efficient and high-quality sheet metal fabrication in Sheffield and other fabrication services, contact FEM today.

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Why apprenticeships are important in fabrication

Apprenticeships provide an exciting and beneficial opportunity both for employers and employees. In industries and roles like steel fabrication, that are very hands on, an apprenticeship is an ideal way for those starting out to gain the key knowledge, skills, and training that will stay with them throughout the rest of their working life.

What a fabrication apprenticeship could involve

The fabrication and welding industry are naturally woven into each aspect of our lives, from the cars we drive to the construction of the buildings we visit and work in. Steel fabrication, welding, and engineering job roles require well-trained individuals who are able to operate various pieces of technical equipment and apply a range of techniques.

Metal fabrication apprenticeships often involve helping to make products and parts from raw or partially finished materials by cutting, shaping, and joining sections of metal together. You might also carry out repairs on equipment and machinery, which will be an invaluable skill for your career as a fabricator.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship in fabrication?

If you like working with your hands and want a rewarding career, fabrication and welding could be for you. Below are just a few examples of the benefits you’ll experience when you start a fabrication apprenticeship.

Earn while you learn

One of the biggest advantages to doing a fabrication apprenticeship is that you can earn money to support yourself whilst you gain the skills, qualifications, and experience you need to kickstart your career.

Support from trade professionals

An apprenticeship gives you invaluable insider access to years of experience that comes with working alongside fabrication specialists. Trade experts are there to answer questions and guide apprentices through on-the-job training so they will be set up for success going forward.

Gain valuable experience

Fabrication and welding are highly desirable skills and by doing an apprenticeship you’ll get a head start from other candidates who don’t have the level of experience that you’ve built up throughout your course. An apprenticeship involves more than just studying from books – you’ll also learn through hands-on experience. You’ll attend classes for a few hours each week to reinforce what you’ve learned and prepare for any new practical skills you’ll be starting next.

Achieve industry-recognised qualifications

A registered apprenticeship programme gives you valuable skills and industry-recognised training that you can take to any part of the country if you need to and be highly employable in the industry.

Our view on apprenticeships

At FEM, we are actively involved in giving apprenticeship opportunities to those who are interested in fabrication engineering careers. Once they have completed their training many apprentices stay with us and continue to grow and develop, working their way up to take on more responsibilities and senior roles within the business.

We work in a wide range of industries such as technology, automotive, and agricultural. This means apprentices with us can expect a varied and exciting career where they will learn cutting edge manufacturing practices using the most up to date and modern technology, acquiring a wealth of skills and experience.

As a family owned and run business, specialising in fabrication in Sheffield we understand the importance of having the right team by your side to produce high quality products and provide the best service. That’s why we feel having apprentices in the fabrication industry are so important to growth and development and creating a skilled team you can trust.

Why custom metal fabrication services are beneficial to you

If you need metal work for your business, whether it’s a new staircase, platform, safety guards, or mezzanine floors, you might be thinking about using a bespoke fabrication service. To help you make this decision, we’ve put together some of the most important and convincing reasons why custom metal fabrication services will be beneficial to you below. 

Ideal for many businesses 

Businesses across a wide range of industries and sectors can benefit from tailored products such as bespoke steel fabrications. This is because it helps them to differentiate themselves and stand out from other companies, rather than opting for standard metal fabrication metal work that everyone has seen before in other companies. 

As well as this your business will likely become more efficient in its operations and can ensure any specific standards are met. By having the exact custom fabrication requirements, you need you won’t need to compromise or try to make standard pre-built options fit that might not be right for you. 

Having customised metal products, all the way down to the smallest of details, can give your business the highest levels of convenience. You can offer optimum solutions to your customers, clients, and colleagues, boosting satisfaction levels for everyone and potentially boosting your profits if your bespoke metal work attracts new business. 

Meet your individual needs 

Not all projects and specifications are the same, so it makes sense that a one-size-fits-all approach would be difficult to apply to all industries and metal work products. If you have very specific and unique requirements for a metal project or need a one-off solution, taking advantage of custom services such as the bespoke stainless steel fabrication design service we can offer at FEM, will guarantee that you get precisely what you’re looking for from a particular project. 

Better quality 

By opting for custom fabrication services, you are getting access to materials, skills, and expertise that are a cut above the standard metal work products that haven’t been designed or manufactured with your business or needs in mind. This will make sure you receive high quality solutions from beginning to end. Specialist fabricators like us will take the time to listen and understand your requirements, to take care of every detail to the best standard. 

Durable products 

A lot of businesses may be tempted by prefabricated metal elements over a custom build because they’re cheaper. However, this won’t necessarily give you value for money over time. Prefabricated components might not be as good quality as custom made metal work, meaning you ultimately would spend more money replacing any products that aren’t durable and don’t last very long. 

Also, pre-built parts might not be designed to fit very well into the intended purpose of your project. This means if doesn’t fit for purpose you could need to replace it a lot sooner than you had planned. 

Bespoke metal fabrication will give you confidence and peace of mind that the product you are paying for is well-made, specifically designed to meet your requirements, and will be highly durable and long-lasting. 

Access to skilled services 

Bespoke metal fabrication is a highly specialised service that takes a lot of knowledge and experience. If you’re looking for professional fabrication in Sheffield, FEM can help. 

With us, you’ll have access to a passionate family run business with well-trained engineers and designers who are committed to creating quality products that perfectly meet your demands. Additionally, your products will be manufactured using the latest techniques, methods, and technologies, which you cannot be certain you would get if your purchased prefabricated metal work components. 

Looking for Bespoke Metal Fabrication?

If you’re looking for specialist steel fabrication in Sheffield or any other bespoke fabrication services, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, you can request a free quote for your project through our website. 


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Benefits of CNC Punching

CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) punching is a manufacturing process commonly used for sheet metal fabrication. A CNC sheet metal punch is designed to stamp clear and specific shapes into pieces of metal and sheet metal parts. 

CNC punch presses are electromechanical devices that use inputs from computer programming to move tools and create patterns from a software file. The devices are available with one head and a tool rail or a multi-tool turret. 


How does CNC programming work? 

Programming the punch press depends on a couple of different factors. The desired pattern is provided in either a 2D DXF or a DWG file format or as a 3D format in the CAD (Computer-Aided Design) file. 

This data is then added to the CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) phase of the cycle with the goal of selecting the best tool for the job and to fabricate the flat sheet metal element. The CNC nest will play a role in this phase when it comes to determining the most effective layout for the size of the sheet metal. 

The CNC machine can then move the sheet metal to accurately position it under the punching arm, so the planned pattern can be punched and generated. Some machines can only move in one or two ways whilst some are able to move along the x, y, and z-axis. 

What can be made using CNC Punching? 

CNC punching is a highly versatile process, meaning the sky is the limit for what is able to be machined, whether its stainless steel, brass, plastic, or even wood, they can all be punched. The thickness that can be successfully machined ranges from 0.5mm to 6.0mm. So, as long as your chosen material falls within this range, it can be used in the machine. 

There are also no restrictions when it comes to design and pattern. You don’t need to stick to the standard circle or rectangle, designs can be cut out to your specifications. CNC punching machines can use single hits, overlapping geometries, and a number of different tools to generate the most complex shapes. 

What are the benefits of CNC Punching? 

Increased productivity 

When a design has been selected and created, it can be used as many times as you need. This easy repeatability improves productivity by taking away technical, intensive, and time-consuming manual processes. 

Speed and accuracy 

The automation and repeatability also make this method much faster than any other similar processes. No matter how complicated the design is, the overall production time is reduced. There is no need to compromise on accuracy either, in fact, CNC machines are often used for some of the most precise and complex shapes and machining. 


CNC punching machines are fast and accurate whilst reducing the amount of waste being produced. Many machines now have internal quality detectors installed, so when a deficiency is found, the machine will stop punching to avoid any further waste. 

Safe and cost effective 

Thanks to the internal quality detectors, waste in these machines is kept to a minimum. This saves money in the long term because no raw materials will be thrown away. Additionally, as the entire process is automated, there aren’t any risks being posed to the operator, ensuring a hazard-free environment. 

How can we help? 

We are a family-run steel fabrication businesses that has been operating for more than 20 years. As experienced structural steel fabricators, we understand the importance of providing a first-class service to our customers as well as ensuring the highest quality steel products. 

Contact our team today to discuss how our structural steel fabrication service, design fabrication, or any of our other services can help you and your project. 


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Can you weld stainless steel?

Yes, you can weld stainless steel. Stainless steel is well known for its resistance to corrosion and use in cases where hygiene is particularly important. Despite its tendency to distort easily when heated, its lower thermal conductivity means the heat energy is not dispersed from the welding zone as quickly, which is helpful during the welding process. It is easy to work with if you want to weld it, but with our tips and advice below, you can gain a greater insight into welding stainless steel. 

Is it difficult to weld stainless steel? 

Welding stainless steel can be done with the MIG welding process, TIG welding, or MMA (stick welding). Like with any weldable metal, stainless steel has its own quirks and behaviours when it is under the arc. Getting the best result from this alloy, when it has a minimum 10.5% chromium content, can take an extremely long time.  

Along with the equally troublesome aluminium, it is, without doubt, one of the more difficult materials to weld. However, it is by no means impossible. 

Which welding method is best for stainless steel? 

Deciding on the right process essentially comes down to the details of the task at hand and the qualities you need from the finished weld. If cost is an important factor in your stainless steel fabrication it could be that MMA is best, but if you are looking for precision with thin materials TIG is likely going to be the preferred approach. 

MIG welding stainless steel 

To start, as with any welding process, your MIG welding machine should be set up in the correct way for stainless steel. It is recommended that you always fit a Teflon wire liner, as you will be able to get good wire feed and it stops the wire from becoming contaminated. Stainless steel fabrication design might mean this alloy is highly resistant to corrosion, but it is still susceptible to contamination. 

When you are welding stainless steel with MIG, any ferrous material (including steel liner contamination) in the weld pool can easily create rust spots on the finished product. You will also want to ensure your MIG torch is in good condition prior to starting your weld. 

Similar to the aluminium welding process, you might want to buy a larger torch size than you would use for normal steel. This is because welding stainless steel generates more heat, a bigger torch will carry higher amperages better. Going back to the issue of contamination, it is essential that you only use stainless steel wire brushes and grinding/cutting discs whenever you are working with this metal. 

As well as the risk of ferrous contamination with stainless steel, you need to check that your working area is clear of iron or steel dust, or any ferrous oxides. This might sound over the top, but it is essential. 

Thoroughly cleaning your materials and workspaces is always a good practice for successful welding. When it comes to stainless steel, avoiding even the smallest of particles is crucial to avoiding contamination and completing the best weld. 

Next is one of the most easily mistaken parts of MIG, having the correct wire type and diameter. This is project specific as with all parts of the welding process so seek advice if you need tailored guidance. More advice shared in relation to aluminium welding is the importance of clamping and tack welding your workpiece to prevent movement and distortion via cracking. 

What gas is used for MIG welding stainless steel? 

The right choice of gas matters when you are MIG welding stainless steel. You might be using pure argon or a combination of argon and some minor gases to improve starting. Alternatively, you might need a specialist gas mix, particularly if you’ve got more unconventional stainless steels like Inconel, Hastelloy, or Monel alloys. With stainless MIG welding, you will use a slightly increased gas-flow rate of about 14-16 LPM. 

TIG welding stainless steel 

If you are TIG welding stainless steel, you can use a DC-only machine or AC/DC TIG welding machines set in DC mode. The most important thing is to make sure your machine has enough power to weld stainless steel. 

For more information about TIG welding check out our TIG welding guide.

MMA welding stainless steel 

MMA is the easiest of the three welding processes to set up (most importantly, select the right electrode for the weld). In addition, it is the least expensive method for welding stainless alloys. 

As long as you have a welding machine that has stick welding capabilities, all you really need to get started are some suitable rods. In this process, there is no gas, torch, foot pedals, or torch consumables, it is welding in its most basic form. 

Stainless steel will move on a welding table, so make sure you clamp or tack weld it your workpiece. Double check you have chosen the right electrode (316, 308, or 312 are standard). 

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to weld thin sheets of stainless steel. A lot of welders will find it difficult with a sheet of stainless steel that is less than 2mm thick. It all comes down to the lower controllability of the MMA arc for these applications. Whilst thin sheets will be a challenge, welding mild steel to stainless steels or high-carbon tool steels will play to MMA’s strengths. 

Pre-heating usually helps with certain stainless steels as it can help to stop cracking. This is most often done with a blow torch, an oxy acetylene, or oxy propane torch. 


For more information about our metal fabrication or stainless steel fabrication services contact the team at FEM today. 

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Does stainless steel rust and how could it be prevented?

Stainless steel is constructed with built-in corrosion resistance but in certain conditions it can and will rust, although it won’t be as fast or severe as standard steels. Stainless steels will typically corrode when they are exposed to harmful chemicals, saline, moisture, grease, or heat for extended periods of time. 

The level of protection stainless steel has against corrosion is mostly dependent on how much chromium there is. If there isn’t enough chromium near the surface of the stainless steel, a new chromium oxide layer can’t form when the top layer is scratched off. This leaves the material at risk to multiple different types of corrosion. 

The basics of stainless steel 

To get a better insight into why steel is rust-resistant, and how this resistance can be broken down, it is beneficial to first know how these alloys are different from other steels. 

At the very minimum, stainless steel contains 10.5% of chromium. The chromium quickly reacts with the oxygen that surrounds it and creates a thin oxide layer on the steel’s surface. Unlike iron oxide, which is typically formed in a flaky and corrosive rust, the chromium oxide attaches to the steel. This makes it a better protective barrier. 

Chromium oxide is commonly known as a passive film that covers the iron in the alloy, protecting it from the air and water in the natural environment. It is this film that gives stainless steel its rust-resistance quality. 

Stainless steel is well-known for being low maintenance, and its resistance to oxidation and staining makes it the perfect material for a wide range of applications. 

What types of stainless steel corrosion is there? 

There are four main types of stainless steel corrosion. Each of them presents a different challenge and needs a different approach to effectively deal with it. 

General corrosion 

This is considered to be the safest form of corrosion because it is predictable, manageable, and in most cases, preventable. You will be able to tell it is general corrosion when there is a uniform loss of metal over the entire surface. Stainless steel that has a pH value of less than one is more prone to general corrosion. 

Galvanic corrosion 

Galvanic corrosion mostly affects metal alloys. It usually refers to a situation in which one metal has come into contact with another, resulting in one or both reacting with each other and corroding. 

Pitting corrosion 

This is a localised type of corrosion which leaves holes or cavities. It often occurs when stainless steel is exposed to environments that contain chlorides. 

Crevice corrosion 

Another localised corrosion which forms at the crevice between two joining surfaces. It can happen between two metals or between a metal and a non-metal. 

How to prevent rusting in stainless steel 

When stainless steel begins to rust it can be concerning and not look great either. It is a metal that is specifically designed to resist corrosion so most users will start to worry when they spot stains and rusting on the metal. Fortunately, there are several methods to prevent rusting and improve corrosion resistance at different stages of the stainless steel fabrication process. 


Taking a proactive stance with stainless steel fabrication design pays off in the long term. Detailed planning in the design phase of stainless steel applications will minimise the risk of water being able to penetrate the material and reduce surface damage potential. In cases where contact with water is unavoidable, drainage holes should be added. The design should allow free air circulation to prevent damage to the alloy. 


During any stainless steel fabrication work it is important to prevent stainless steel from coming into contact with iron or ordinary steel. This means being extremely careful with work tables, tools, storage units, chains, and steel turning rolls. 

If any cross-contamination occurs with carbon steel dust particles settling onto the stainless steel during the fabrication process, the potential for rust formation increases significantly. Also, any cleaning or grinding tools that have been used with carbon or a low alloy steel should be kept separate from stainless steels. 


Regular maintenance is an essential part of stainless steel rust prevention, as well as restricting further progression of existing rust. It is important to get rid of any rust that has formed using mechanical or chemical methods. The grime left over can be cleaned using warm water and soap. After the steel has been cleaned, a rust-resistant coating should be added. 


Contact us today to find out more about our stainless steel fabrication services and how we can help you

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