15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Metal Manufacturing


Published in Business Articles

Steel, aluminum, and heavy rock music. These are just a few types of metal that many of us see every single day. In fact, we produce over 19 million tons of metal every year in the US.

When we take something for granted so much, we often don’t take the time to learn about its unique properties. Here are some of the most interesting facts about metal manufacturing that you probably don’t know!

What Is Metal Fabrication?

Another term for metal manufacturing is metal fabrication. It’s important to understand how this process works to understand how amazing these facts really are.

As we will discuss, this process has been around for a very long time and hasn’t changed all that much. It’s the process of involving the creation of machines, parts, or structures by various bending, cutting, and welding processes.

This process can be used to make tiny microchips that go into your phone or used at a far greater scale to make skyscrapers. However, the process remains mostly the same!

While the modes of welding and construction have changed dramatically since metal was discovered around 9,000 years ago when humans learned how to refine copper from ore. Of course, later it moved onto a harder alloy known as bronze.

Metal manufacturing may seem just like welding or any other trade, and it might feel like it’s old news. However, there are several interesting facts regarding the process that you probably don’t know about. Here are some of the most fascinating.

1. Metal Manufacturing Is On The Rise

There’s a lot of talk about manufacturing being “dead” in the United States, but that’s very far from reality. In fact, manufacturing had a very strong start in early 2021 and is set to be on the rise for the coming years. In fact, December of 2020 closed out at the highest level in 20 years for the manufacturing industry in the US.

2. The Industry Has Withstood The Test Of Time

We mentioned that metal has been used for around 9,000 years, but the metal fabrication process took some time to develop.

The process has been around for a lot longer than you think. In fact, the process dates back to around 4000 BCE, over 6,000 years ago, when Ancient Egyptians learned how to forge metal into jewelry.

Of course, the process has evolved substantially since then but it took a long time to really ramp up the process. You may be thinking the first industrial revolution was the period that saw the most growth in the industry, but you’d be wrong.

Believe it or not, automation came into the game much later. It wasn’t until 1961 when General Motors developed the first robot was installed in a fabrication plant. The machine weighed over 2 tons and had an arm that was used to spot-weld on command.

3. Most Products Use Metal Fabrication

The metal fabrication process is used in the majority of consumer goods, on one component or another. That includes your laptop, cell phone, vehicle, bicycle, and even less-suspected items.

Over half of all cutlery, bridges, boats, and more use this process for at least one component of their development.

4. Upping The Game

We all know that the Eiffel Tower held the record for a long time for being the tallest man-made structure in the world. What you may not know about it is that it was assembled back in 1889 by using over 18,000 large pieces of wrought iron and it was held together by using over 2 million rivets.

Later on, the Empire State Building took over as the largest tower in the world but it no longer holds that record. The Burj Khalifa stands over 1200 feet taller than the Empire State Building with one amazing difference; it contains just over half the amount of steel you will find in the Empire State Building, showing the amazing accomplishments of the structural engineering field since 1930.

For a bonus fun fact about the Eiffel Tower, because iron expands and contracts due to heat, the tower is about 6 inches taller during the summer than it is in the winter!

5. It’s A Lucrative Field For Workers

The average metal fabricator in the US starts at around $18.25 an hour and makes an average salary close to $50,000 a year. Metal fabricators tend to be satisfied with their careers at higher rates among other trades and tend to work into their late-50s to mid-60s.

On the high end, metal fabricators see salaries above $60,000 and even $70,000 in higher-paying regions of the US like the Northeast or parts of the West Coast.

6. Steel Is Green

No, not that kind of green.

Throughout North America, steel is recycled at a 69% rate on average, mostly from construction and other industries. That is a higher percentage than paper, aluminum, plastic, and glass combined.

Over 80 million tons of steel are recycled every year in the country, and the great part is that it’s a material that doesn’t lose strength after the recycling process. Steel is actually up to 1,000 times stronger than iron even after recycling.

That’s not the only green news when it comes to steel. Since WWII, the steel industry has reduced its energy consumption by around 60% and it is the main metal used to generate hydro, wind, and solar power.

7. Steel Is The Best Roofing Material

If you live in the northern parts of the US, especially northern New England, you’ve seen your share of steel snow roofs. Well, the average traditional roof in the US, especially in snowy regions, only lasts around 17 years. However, the average steel roof lasts 50 years or more.

8. Metal Mining Is Bigger Than You Think

Coal and diamonds get all the attention but metal mining is even more lucrative. In fact, the US alone was able to mine over $82.3 billion worth of ore in 2020 just for copper, iron, zinc, and gold. Compare that to only $13.9 billion for diamonds.

9. You Can Trust Steel With Your Life

In fact, you probably trust steel with your life every single day. The first automobile to be made of steel, which sparked the “muscle car revolution” was made in 1918. Since then, all seatbelts and other life-saving components must use steel because of their consistent durability.

10. However, Not All Life-Saving Equipment Is Steel

Some of the most important life-saving equipment relies on far softer metals than steel. In fact, most of the triggers or switches for your airbags use a small amount of gold to plate them because of their inability to rust. Gold is too soft of a metal to work on its own, so it usually has to be combined with other metals. If your wedding ring was entirely gold, you would likely be able to crush it with two fingers!

11. Steel Saves Resources

Steel is over 8 times stronger than concrete, pound for pound, so bridges that are made from steel can be made far lighter than a concrete bridge while saving unnecessary emissions and resources.

It’s even more efficient today. The 83,000 tons of steel used to build the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937 would only require about half of that amount today.

12. Silver Is The Best Conductor

When we think of good conductors, we often think about copper. However, in some of the higher-end televisions or other electronic equipment, silver wires will be used instead, as they are the most efficient conductor of electricity.

13. Metal Manufacturing Is A Unique Job

There are few other jobs that switch from burning hot to blistering cold within a single day. Metal manufacturing is one of those jobs, keeping days at work very interesting.

Isolating, welding, assembly, and more are just a few steps in the process to create all of the products that you take for granted in your everyday life, whether you realize it or not.

14. It’s Not Too Late To Start

Again, don’t pay attention to anybody who says that manufacturing is anything other than alive and well. If you want to get into the metal manufacturing industry, there’s still plenty of room for you.

If you want to see some major success in the industry, check out Zach Mottl Atlas Tool, who is now the 4th generation owner of a successful metal sales manufacturing corporation.

Who Doesn’t Love Metal?

Now that you know some interesting facts about metal manufacturing, you may be interested in the field. There are plenty of open jobs all across the country, so if you’re interested, try out an apprenticeship! Stay up to date with our latest career news and contact us with any questions!




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