Metal Manufacturing: From Extraction to Fabrication

Metal manufacturing is a complex process that involves a number of steps from the extraction of raw materials to the fabrication of a final product. While the specifics vary depending on the type of metal, broadly speaking metal manufacturing in BC and elsewhere in Canada involves the following:


Extracting ores and refining them

Extraction and refining processes vary depending on the type of metal being made. For example, when making iron—the primary component in steel—iron ore is extracted via open pit mining and then refined by a process of crushing and sorting. However, though aluminum is also extracted by way of open pit mining the refining process differs in that it involves the use of chemicals, predominantly caustic soda, that are employed to dissolve impurities from the clay.

Smelting
In most cases of metal manufacturing, the next step in the process is smelting. Once refined, collected materials can be heated with a chemical reducing agent to melt out a base metal. When making iron, this agent is coke but with aluminum it’s a combination of cryolite and carbon that are required. Smelting allows for the removal of impurities from the final product.

Production
Once the desired purity level is achieved, there are several sorts of processes that can be used to create varying types of metal products.


  • Casting. The melted metal is poured into moulds to achieve the desired shape. However, this process is best suited for crafting smaller, more intricate parts. Engines, pistols and many types of household goods are created using this technique. 
  • Powder processing. Powdered metals are exposed to heat and pressure to create small and complex components. Precision and high output quality are the virtues of this costly process of metal production.
  • Forming. Raw metal, usually in sheets, is manipulated with the use of machines designed for this purpose. Unlike other types of metal production processes, forming produces products that are extremely strong and therefore suitable for fabrication.

Fabrication

There are a number of ways metals can be fabricated:

  • Deformation. The process involves the application of force to alter the metal’s shape. Specific methods include bending, form rolling, spinning and deep drawing.   
  • Material removal processing. This method of fabrication involves the removal of a section of metal. Specific types include machining, punching, blanking, stamping, shearing and nibbling. 
  • Joining. When metal products can’t be produced as a single component, joining is required. Methods include welding, soldering, brazing, bolting and applying adhesives.
  • Finishing. Some metal products require finishes. Common types include powder coatings and galvanization.

Metal manufacturing services in BC
For the fabricating and producing of your metal products, you can’t find a better team than Aggressive Tube Bending. Located in the Greater Vancouver Area—our 26,000 sq. ft. shop is in the Port Kells area of Surrey—but serving all of BC, we’re happy to provide you with a complete range of metal manufacturing services. Contact us today to find out more or get a free quote for your upcoming project.

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