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What is Metal Fabrication and How to learn it?

Metal fabrication is the process of making metallic products from raw materials, metal sheets, or extrusions. Metal fabricators employ various manufacturing techniques to design, cut, form and assemble metallic components.

New technologies like Computer-Aided Design (CAD), laser cutting, and CNC folding have made the manufacturing process more accurate. These new advances have also reduced turnaround times. The modern metal fabrication processes include CAD, cutting, machining, bending, welding, and assembling.

Hand drawn sketches by Genera Motors engineers in 1950s
Modern technologies have improved the metal fabrication industry and the way engineers design and manufacture products. Left: General Motors Technical Center in Warren Michigan, the 1950s. Right: CAD software used by our metal fabrication engineers to design parts and assemblies.

At Westberg, we use a flatbed laser cutter to cut steel and aluminium sheet metal. Our metal fabrication in Melbourne includes a rotary tube laser cutter as well. The tube laser cutter can cut sophisticated patterns and holes on metal extrusions and tubes. Guillotine cutters are also used for simple cuts or materials that should not be exposed to the laser’s higher temperatures.

Laser cutters use high-power laser beams to melt the metal. High-pressure gas (nitrogen, air, or carbon dioxide) is used to blow the molten metal out and finish the cut.

After cutting, any hole or pattern that cannot be made using the laser cutters is made in the machining stage. The required holes, threads, and slots can be made using various machining equipment including lathe, CNC milling, and drilling. Following the machining process, CNC press brakes are used to bend and form the product.

The metallic parts are then put and secured together by welding or using rivets and screws. Any final finish and painting (e.g. powder coating) can be used before or after the assembly to finalise the metal fabrication process.

How to learn metal fabrication:

High-quality metal fabrication does not rely only on the quality of the machines and processes. Having an experienced team is the most important factor to guarantee the highest quality of the provided metal fabrication services.

Metal fabrication experts learn the required skills by attending TAFE and technical schools in Australia. The programs include a mix of theoretical and practical courses. Students work as apprentices as part of their TAFE program and under the supervision of experienced metal fabricators.

metal fabrication apprenticeship Melbourne
Apprentices learn various metal fabrication skills by working under the supervision of skilled workers as part of their program at TAFE.

We have custom metal fabrication apprentices as part of our team in Melbourne. If you like to join our team, send us an email with your resume or give us a call.

We have a dedicated metal fabrication team at Westberg Sheet Metal. You can also join the production team of Ultralift Australia. Ultralift provides custom steel and aluminium products for the AV industry.

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Laser Machines for Cutting Sheet Metal

Why Laser Machines Are Best for Cutting Sheet Metal

Laser cutting services are one of the most effective sheet metal cutting methods available. Sheet metal laser cutting is a commonly used technique in the metal fabrication sector that offers many advantages. Here are some reasons why you should choose a laser cutting service for your project.

Lower Costs

Compared to other cutting machines, using sheet metal laser cutting machines is highly cost-effective. There will be significantly less labour costs due to these machines being automated and requiring fewer workers to operate.

As lasers will not get dull or worn out like other cutting tools do, they don’t need to be changed over during the sheet metal laser cutting process. This helps to improve productivity and cause fewer interruptions, meaning costs will be lower.

Improved Speed and Efficiency

As lasers can be set to various cutting speeds, as per the specifications of the parts being cut, they can cut through materials very fast. Since laser cutter machines can be set to operate overnight when machinists aren’t on shift, this can increase the overall efficiency of the laser cutting process and therefore get the work done faster compared to other cutting processes.

High Precision

Laser cutting stainless steel sheets is highly recommended as the cuts will be highly accurate. Laser cutters can create small cuts, tight tolerances, and smooth, sharp and clean curves and edges. If intricate cuts are required, laser cutters are recommended to achieve this. These machines produce little to no burring due to the laser melting the material instead of cutting it.

High Versatility

Laser cutters can be used to cut many different types of metals, making it perfect for laser cutting stainless steel sheets, aluminium alloy, titanium and more. They’re capable of handling tight tolerances and intricate designs and they work very fast to ensure your project is completed on time with minimal disruption.

Enquire About Our Laser Cutting Service

Westberg Sheetmetal has years of experience providing laser cutting of sheet metals as well as many other services. Contact us today by calling (03) 9459 4600 or sending an email to Our experts are available on weekdays from 7am to 5pm to talk to you about our laser cutting services and your specific requirements.

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Best Way to Cut Steel

What is the Best Way to Cut Steel?

Cutting steel can be an intense, arduous and sometimes dangerous practice. Regardless of how challenging a metal cutting task might be, every possible safety precaution must be adhered to when working with steel metal cutting equipment. It can be dangerous to handle the materials required for cutting through steel, especially if you don’t know which metal cutting equipment is best for your needs.

Knowing what the best sheet metal cutting methods are can save businesses a significant amount of time and energy. If your business needs to have a steel or aluminium sheet cut to size, but you’re unsure what the best method is, there are various types of metal cutting machinery available to choose from. This blog post will detail a few of the most effective methods below.

cutting machine

Guillotine Cutting

Guillotines designed for sheet metal cutting applications create clean and precise cuts. The sheet metal is placed over a bladed cutting line, and a second blade comes down from above at a specific offset distance. Guillotines come with easy-to-use software that ensures the cuts are as accurate as possible.

Laser Cutting

As the name indicates, laser cutting is a metal cutting practice that uses a laser. This is a very common method due to its accuracy, efficiency and cost-effectiveness. When deciding which laser cutting equipment to use, you should take into consideration the specs of the equipment to find the right machine for your requirements.

Tube Laser Cutting

Tube laser cutting allows for precise cutting of steel and other metals. A tube laser cutting machine is capable of cutting tube, channel or structural shapes in a single step, making it a time and cost-efficient method.

Contact Us Today

If you require more information to determine what metal cutting method is right for your requirements, contact Westberg Sheetmetal today by either calling (03) 9459 4600 or sending an email to Our team members are available on weekdays from 7am to 5pm to speak to you about our sheet metal cutting services and any specific requirements you may have.

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Welding Sheet Metal

Cut and Etch Weld Testing

How to use cut and etch technique to test a weld

Macro etch test is a technique used to test a weld by revealing the structure of the base material and weld. It’s a destructive testing method that is used to evaluate the characteristics of the weld. First, the sample is cut to expose the profile of the weld. This allows us to see how the weld is adhering to the base metal, and also shows us other characteristics like penetration or cracks.

After cutting, the sample is published to reveal create a smooth surface before etching. The cutting process usually leaves a coarse trace on the material, so polishing helps reveal the finer details of the weld and produces a smoother surface.

MIG cut weld

Profile of a MIG weld after cutting

MIG polished weld

The polished surface of the weld with a 240 grit sandpaper

After polishing to the required level, different acid-based solutions can be used to etch the surface and reveal even more detail. A combination of ethanol and nitric acid is usually used. Other industrial-grade rust removers can also be used for this purpose (for example, Rust Off from Bunnings Warehouse or other phosphoric acid solutions). Make sure you use proper personal protection equipment (P.P.E – such as gloves and eye protection) and follow the local regulations for disposal of these solutions as they are usually classified as harmful and corrosive.

MIG weld etching

The etchant acid reacting with the metal 

weld cut and etch details

The profile after etching revealing the weld boundary

After etching the sample in the acid-based solution for a few minutes, the boundaries of the base metal and weld become visible. The visual inspection at this point can reveal additional information about the weld. For example, the following photos show the effect of different wire feed rates on a MIG weld.

Effect of MIG wire feed speed on the welding tested by cutting and etching

6 m/min wire feed speed

8 m/min wire feed speed

10 m/min wire feed speed

Based on these tests, it can be seen that 10 m/min is too fast for the feed speed and there is no penetration or proper adhesion as the wire melts up too quickly to provide proper welding. 8 m/min provides a better weld penetration compared to 6 m/min, however, the operator needs to adjust the hand movement to cover the base of the weld and both sides properly.

Low magnification microscopes can also be used to examine the finer structure of the weld. That’s why polishing should be done to achieve a finer surface finish before etching.

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How is sheet metal made?

What is sheet metal?

Sheet metal is a metal that is shaped into thin, flat pieces by hot and cold rolling industrial process. Sheet metal is one of the basic forms of metalworking and can be cut and bent into various shapes.

How is sheet metal made?

Sheet metal is made by running hot slabs of metal through a series of roughing rolling stands that makes them thinner and longer. To make them even thinner, these sheets go through finishing rolling stands and are then cooled and rolled into coils.

sheet metal manufacturing

What are metal pickling and pickled and oiled steel?

Pickling is a surface treatment method used to remove impurities such as stains, inorganic contaminants, rust or scale from the surface of the metal after manufacturing by using an acid bath.

Aluminium forms a protective layer of oxide when exposed to atmospheric air that protects the aluminium from further rusting and oxidisation. However, steel can rust after going through pickling. To protect steel from rusting, a thin film of oil is usually used to protect the steel, and hence the term ‘pickled and oiled steel’.

What are the different types of sheet metal finish?

Sheet metal coils after hot rolling and pickling can be used as what is known as a hot band. If special finishing is needed, further processing is done starting with cold rolling to make the sheets even thinner. After that, the sheet metal coils can go through other finishing processes.

  • Galvanising is the process of zinc coating the steel sheets for corrosion resistance
  • Tinning is the process of tin coating the steel sheets for food cans
  • Anodising is used for aluminium to create a thicker protective oxide layer
  • Annealing is used to make the metal sheets easier to bend and form
  • Tempering is used to add hardness and create surface textures in the metal sheets using special rollers

Westberg Sheetmetal offers sheet metal parts in a wide array of materials including:

  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Bronze/Brass
  • Copper
  • Steel

To further customize parts, Westberg Sheetmetal offers post-processing options to add to sheet metal parts such as:

  • Plating
  • Welding
  • Inserts
  • Powder Coating
  • Other custom finishes upon request
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