The First Two Steps Of Steel Fabrication

Steel is one of the strongest and most widely used of all building materials. Surprisingly few people possess an understanding of how steel is fabricated. If you would like to improve your knowledge of how this incredible resource is made ready for use, read on. This article will provide a clear and concise explanation of the first two steps of the steel fabrication process.

Surface Cleaning

A piece of raw contains a plethora of imperfections on its surface. This includes such things as burrs and mill scale. Such imperfections make the steel cosmetically less desirable. Not only that, but those often razor-sharp pieces also make the steel many times more dangerous to work with. They may even cause problems when it comes to processing the steel.

The most frequently implemented method of surface cleaning raw steel is known as blast cleaning. This involves the projection of superfine bits of matter—usually sand, or silica—at the steel. These high-velocity particles effectively strip off any and all impurities, making the steel relatively smooth and safe to handle.

Of course, the steel isn't entirely smooth. One other desirable feature of blast cleaning is that it actually roughens the outside of the steel very slightly. This has the beneficial effect of making it easier for the steel to bond together with such surface applications as paint and rust retardant.


With the outside of the steel properly blasted, it can now be processed and trimmed down to the appropriate size for a particular job. The cutting of steel may be accomplished in one of three ways. The first involves the use of an incredibly hot jet of flame, which essentially melts the steel in a highly controlled fashion.

The second method of cutting raw steel is known as plasma arc cutting. Whereas flame cutting generates its intense heat through the combustion of fuel—usually propane—plasma arc cutting generates its heat through the use of an electrical current. This method allows for an even greater degree of precision, no matter how thick the particular piece of steel might be.

The last method of steel cutting goes by the name of cold sawing. As you can likely gather, this does not involve the use of heat at all. Rather a series of special saws are used to mechanically alter the shape of the steel. These saws are wielded by high-tech robots, which perform the cuts according to designs programmed into a CAD/CAM system by the structural engineer. 

For more information, contact local steel fabricators