Mention the words “sheet metal fabrication”, and in the minds of the uniformed, you will conjure up a picture of a “tin basher”. Now whereas tin bashers still exist, and long may they do so, sheet metal fabrication has become an art form in the 21st century.Learn more at –metal fabrication.
An artist may use a paint brush, a palette and an easel, a tin basher’s tools include a hammer, anvil, grinder, and welder, but the 21st century sheet metal fabrication relies on technology. It is a technology that uses the same tools, but in an automated fashion, to achieve the same results in less time, at a fraction of the cost, in much the same way that scanners and printers have automated an artistic world.
Nothing is ever made until someone has an idea. Expensive tooling costs invariably prevent any form of mass production until such time that prototypes have been manufactured, tested, and approved. Even in the technological sheet metal fabrication age, there will always be a need for some basic tin bashing before automation takes over. If size constraints and budgets are not an issue, tin bashers will further decline with the introduction of 3D printing.
There are those that will say that technology has taken the skill out of sheet metal fabrication. In fact, the opposite is true. A different skill set is required when applying technology to the process. Innovation is at the forefront of today’s sheet metal fabrication industry. Despite the increased use of plastics in manufacturing, sheet metal fabrication is still able to compete in the marketplace. It competes because of the innovation, the ability to do in seconds the same processes that would have taken a tin basher days to complete. Sheet metal fabrication was revolutionised with the arrival of CNC machinery and now is further enhanced with the use of robots. Lasers have increased production rates tenfold. Plasma cutters and water jet machines have all widened the spectrum covered under the umbrella of metal production.
When it comes to sheet metal fabrication, it makes little odds whether one operates as a tin basher or as a fully automated jobbing shop – the principles remain the same. Automation and technology will only ever be as good as the individuals who program, set, and operate the machines. The ideas, the thought processes, and the implementation of new methods are no different between a tin basher and someone involved in the technological fabrication processes.
Show me someone who employs all the technology available in the industry, and I will show you someone who deep down, is, and always will be, a tin basher. And both are artists.
This industry thrives in the 21st century, and it will continue to in the 22nd and beyond.