What does a fabricator do? (Duties and importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Fabricators are a crucial part of the manufacturing process as they're responsible for turning raw materials into a final product, and they do this by cutting, bending and assembling different parts. Fabricators are in almost every industry, from construction to food service to aerospace engineering. Fabricators are responsible for ensuring that their products meet safety standards and quality control requirements. If this interests you, you may enjoy the role. In this article, we answer 'What does a fabricator do?' and explain why they're important.

What does a fabricator do?

Answering 'What does a fabricator do?' means taking a look at their primary responsibilities. Fabricators do the following:

Design and plan for new construction or remodelling projects

When planning for a new project, fabricators consider the materials they're going to use on a project and how they're going to handle them. For example, if you're building a house and you want to use steel beams in one of the rooms, it's necessary to take exact measurements so you know what you need. Fabricators also consider how long it takes them to complete their part of the work so that they can determine how much time the project is going to take overall. This can help project managers to plan and communicate with clients about expected deadlines.

Related: 11 common construction job titles (and what they mean)

Decipher blueprints

Blueprints are the first step in creating a product, which means that having the ability to decipher them is essential. For example, if a fabricator is about to work with a customer on a new project, they tend to start by sending them a set of drawings/blueprints. This allows them to depict how they want their piece to look so that a fabricator has a clear set of instructions to work through. This helps to ensure that the team accurately completes the project on time and within budget as it reduces the chance of the customer asking for alterations.

Test materials for strength before using them in construction projects

Fabricators test materials for strength before using them in construction projects because it can keep them from making mistakes. If a fabricator doesn't do any testing, then they might end up using a material that can't hold the product's load, which could lead to an accident or an injury. Testing materials before using them can also help fabricators to prevent any issues with building code violations and safety violations, which are important when it comes to building new structures or renovating existing ones.

Work with various machines and tools to fabricate materials

Fabricators work with various machines and tools to be more efficient and productive. When you're working in a shop and have a lot of materials to process, it's helpful to have the right tools on hand. Different materials require different types of equipment, so having access to more than one machine can help save time. If you're only using one machine, it means that all of your machining processes depend on that one machine. Using different machines enhances efficiency and productivity.

Cut metal parts with shears, saws or machines

In the metal fabrication industry, fabricators work with shears and saws or machines to cut metal parts in a faster and more efficient way. When fabricators use machines and shears, they first measure the metal part that needs cutting. They mark the metal part with a pencil so that they know where to start cutting. They then use a machine or shear to make an incision along this line. Sometimes, fabricators use a measuring device, such as a ruler, to ensure that the cuts are exactly made where they're necessary.

Weld and braze metal parts together to form assemblies

Welding and brazing are both useful processes for fabricators because they help to reduce the time it takes to make a part and the cost of producing that part. When fabricators weld and braze metal parts together, they can form assemblies more quickly than if they had to create each part separately. This is because welding and brazing are quicker processes than cutting and shaping metal. Fabricators also benefit from being able to use less material when they're welding or brazing. This means that the cost of producing an assembly may be lower.

Related: How to become a welder

Grind, sand, polish and paint metal parts to prepare them for assembly

There are many reasons why fabricators grind, sand, polish and paint metal parts to prepare them for assembly. It's necessary for the surface of the parts to be smooth and even so that they can bond together during the assembly process. This means that they're free of imperfections, such as bumps or pits, that could prevent proper bonding.

The type of polishing or sanding to perform on a part also depends on its intended use. If it's going to be later exposed to water or chemicals, it needs polishing or sanding with a material that won't rust easily. Painting is necessary because it protects the surface from oxidation and makes it more aesthetically pleasing.

Operate computer-controlled welding machines

Fabricators operate computer-controlled welding machines to create products that are more precise and consistent than anything they could do by hand. For example, if you're using a manual welder to make a chair, your chances of making the same weld on each chair are slim. If you're using a computer-controlled welder, the chances of making the same weld are higher because the machine is doing the work. Conversely, if two people made chairs from the same material, there would be differences in the welding.

Apply protective coatings to help prevent corrosion and wear

Fabricators work with a range of materials. This means that they understand how protective coatings are essential for any metal product exposed to the elements, especially if they're working with a material like steel. Steel is incredibly strong and durable, but it can corrode quickly if it doesn't have protection from the elements. Protective coatings prevent corrosion of the surface of a machine to keep it looking shiny and new for as long as possible. They also help protect against wear on moving parts so that they last longer and perform better over time, boosting customer satisfaction rates.

Package and label finished products for delivery or installation

Fabricators package and label finished products for delivery or installation to protect the client from potential injury from the finished product. If a fabricator doesn't package and label their finished products, they could accidentally hurt someone during delivery or installation. This also protects the fabricator from dissatisfactory customer service reviews and/or wasted resources by ensuring that they accurately deliver their work. This way, if there's any damage to the product during shipping, the fabricator knows who to contact. Labelling also helps to protect the environment as it ensures that all materials used in creating the product are properly recycled.

Safety inspect new products

Fabricators are often responsible for safety inspecting new products. This is because fabricators are responsible for ensuring that the products they're making are safe for customers. Part of this process may see fabricators use materials that are free of any contaminants and that all components fit together securely and comfortably. Fabricators also check for signs of damage before finished products reach customers to ensure consistent satisfaction rates and resource usage. This is because it reduces the likelihood of a customer returning the item.

Related: A guide to risk assessment (with a risk assessment template)

Why are fabricators important?

Fabricators are important because they ensure that buildings and structures stay up to code. They use their expertise to make sure that they fully address all safety concerns so nobody gets hurt during construction or after the completion of the project. For example, if a client wants something built out of metal beams and they want it to be sturdy enough for people to walk on top of without falling through then it's necessary for them to hire somebody with experience in using metal beams before moving forward with their plans.

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