A metal fabricator cuts and shapes metal, usually steel or ferrous metals, which are used in the manufacture of both heavy and light structures or articles that are used by people every day of their lives. Examples of heavy structures are bridges, buildings, ships, and heavy equipment. Light metals fabrication is involved in the production of automobile bodies, bicycles, chairs, and ornamental products.
To be able cut and shape metals to be used for these articles and structures correctly, a metal fabricator has to know how to read and interpret engineers’ drawings and blueprints. He or she must also know how to use computers as part of the metal fabrication process. Once the metal fabricator understands what is required to fabricate a piece for a structure, he or she uses tools like band saws and cutting torches to create it. Also, he or she may connect pieces with rivets or nuts and bolts, or bend, twist, or roll pieces into different form.
The usual route one takes towards becoming a metal fabricator is training at a technical institute. In some countries, the training programs offer several years of training beyond a basic certificate. Prior to schooling, a man or woman may have worked his or her way up at a fabrication shop or manufacturing site, from an entry-level position into a metal fabricator apprenticeship.
Anyone who wants to work as a metal fabricator should enjoy working with his or her hands, in addition to working with engineer designs and blueprints. The work can be hazardous, since one sometimes has to use sharp, heavy tools, and fire, when welding is involved. Metal fabricators have been known to lose a finger or two while carrying out their work. They can experience temporary blindness from intense light, as well as get tiny flecks of metal embedded in their eyes. To try to avoid all that, a metal fabricator typically wears protective gear like coveralls, safety goggles, heavy-duty gloves, face shields, and steel-toed boots.
Metal fabrication jobs are highly dependent on the construction industry, and of course, on manufacturing. As a result, lay-offs tend to occur when the amount of new building declines, or when there are losses in the manufacturing sector. If a metal fabricator belongs to a union, he or she may be prohibited from taking on non-union jobs. This can seriously limit work opportunities and income.