Metalworking has been a huge part of human life. The first metal tools were made in 3000 BCE and kept evolving to this very day. Today metalworking is even more important. The industry keeps expanding and evolving over time.
It is a big part of making almost anything we use today, from our cellphones to construction materials. Thankfully, the industry manages to provide thanks to discoveries and advancements made every day. Metalworking has become an industrialized process but still relies on manpower greatly.
As I mentioned before, the change in our knowledge of metal did not come overnight. It took thousands of years to become what it is today. Back then the smelting of copper was a big step, it allowed the people of prehistoric times to craft better tools than stone ones.
Copper was naturally the first step as it is fairly easy to melt, but is relatively hard and durable. Later this knowledge spiked when they started smelting tin and combining it with copper to make a solid cast bronze. This was a great advent but faded away relatively soon with the discovery of iron. This was a big deal, a comparative leap in technology.
Even today iron is used as much as it was back then. This speaks volumes on the importance of iron, It allowed for a leap in the efficiency of agricultural practices and helped guide us into the new era of history and human evolution. Iron gave us better tools and weapons, as well as a reason to start trading, as it was a luxury not everybody had.
Today metalworking has the same function as it did back then, it allows us to live easier lives and gives us tools we need to take care of our needs and responsibilities. You could say that metalworking stayed the same, our needs are the thing that changed. Today the metalworking industry produces ships, bridges, car parts and even jewelry.
Depending on who you ask metalworking is a science, a hobby, an art, an industry, and a trade. It relies on reforming ductile and malleable metals to make useful tools and adornments. Metalworking processes can be categorized as forming, cutting or joining processes, even though they are quite diverse. As I mentioned these processes involve heavy machinery capable of producing small and precise products, but still, rely on manpower to operate.
Cutting processes include any process which involves reducing material to a certain geometry by removing excess material. They can be divided into three sub-categories: chip producing processes, burning processes and miscellaneous processes.
Chip producing processes are processes that produce physical waste. In woodworking this would be sawing, while in metalworking we have milling, threading, grinding, turning and several others. While the methods of these processes differ, the end result is the same, you get the wanted geometry and waste, which can be reused down the line.
Forming processes are processes during which new shape is given to a material without reducing the mass of the material. Bulk-forming processes involve using heat or pressure to achieve this. This process is used by blacksmiths. The other category, sheet, and tube forming processes include processes which apply only mechanical force to give new shape to the material.
Joining processes involve making a geometry by melding two other geometries. Welding, brazing, soldering and riveting fall into this category. Welding is a fairly common process you can see in construction as well as in car shops. It involves using heat to fuse the two bodies, by causing coalescence.
Brazing uses filler metal to create a relatively hard joint. Unlike welding, it does not melt the bodies that you want to join. Soldering is brazing at a lower temperature and makes a weaker joint. Riveting is as ancient as metalworking itself. It refers to using a rivet, also known as a two-headed bolt, to maintain the joint until it needs to be broken with a cold chisel.
When it comes to hobbyists in this field, having proper tools for the job is as important as it is for an industrial manufacturer. You will not need all the heavy-duty machinery, however. Depending on what kind of metalworking you want to get into, a selection of certain tools. If you wish to partake in blacksmithing you will naturally need a hammer, an anvil, and a furnace.
As overwhelming as it may seem, getting these tools will not cost you much time or money, as these are pretty basic supplies available in most shops you might encounter. If you are looking to get into the more sophisticated kind of melding metal, you will most definitely need a plasma cutter.
These machines are quite expensive, however, so I suggest using this link in order to avoid wasting money on bad products or just selecting a plasma cutter that is not specialized for your needs. The prospect of slicing metal without preheating it might seem far out, but you will see that a plasma cutter, like the ones for sale at Cuts LIke Butter literally cut through it like , you could’ve guessed it already, butter.