An aluminum fabricator is a person who works with aluminum in many forms to create useful items. Using skills, such as cutting, bending and welding, the aluminum fabricator is able to make detailed projects that offer not only strength, but functionality as well. Many special skills are required of an aluminum fabricator, such as metallurgy knowledge, polishing and buffing. Some operations, including welding, can be dangerous for the fabricator unless special precautions are taken.
There are several types of aluminum that are used by an aluminum fabricator, from flat sheet aluminum to billet aluminum in round, square and other shapes. Cutting and bending are two very useful skills possessed by an aluminum fabricator. Much of the cutting of aluminum is performed using shears due to aluminum not withstanding a flame-type cutting tool without melting unevenly. Large metal shear machines are not easily transported; therefore, much of the cutting and fabricating of aluminum must be done in a shop setting, unlike steel fabrication that is often done on site. The exception is flat aluminum work, such as eaves-troughs, which are commonly manufactured and assembled on site.
Welding is a process of joining metals together using electricity and high temperatures. The metal is heated to melting and a filler metal is introduced to the molten weld puddle via a welding rod or welding wire. Aluminum, although weldable, poses a danger to the aluminum fabricator in the form of toxic fumes when melted. A special breathing apparatus must be worn by the aluminum fabricator when welding to protect against being subjected to the fumes and injured or even killed. Other precautions in the form of protective clothing protect workers from exposure to the fumes and subsequent absorption of the toxins through the skin.
While a brushed aluminum finish does not require the fabricator to undertake special action to finish when the project has been completed, a polished finish often requires skilled workers to achieve the bright finish. Using a buffing wheel and certain compounds, a skilled worker can buff the surface of the aluminum to a bright and shiny finish. Commonly accomplished in several stages, the worker uses progressively finer compounds to remove scratches and create the bright sheen that is desired by some buyers of aluminum products. In some manufacturing facilities, an aluminum component is created by a single fabricator who handles the complete assembly of the component, from cutting the material to welding and finish polishing.