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What’s The Difference Between Sheet Metal Fabrication And Ironwork

What’s the Difference Between Sheet Metal Fabrication and Ironwork?

It may seem that sheet metal fabricators and ironworkers have similar jobs. Both are highly skilled trades, but they actually have different skill sets and utilize different tools and materials. Typically, ironwork is more structural and sheet metal fabrication is more functional.


The Industrial Revolutions brought about the use of cranes and the construction of high-level structures. With this new technology, a special form of trade worker called an ironworker was born. Historically, ironworkers fabricated with wrought iron, but today’s skilled craftsman work with a variety of metals.

There are three main types of ironworkers:

Reinforcing ironworkers are also known as “rodbusters” and specialize in fabricating and placing steel bars (rebar) in concrete to reinforce structures such as concrete footings, bridge frameworks, and building structures.

Structural ironworkers erect the framework of bridges, buildings, stadiums, amusement park rides, bank vaults, and other large-scale industrial metal projects. Before construction can begin, the structural ironworkers put together the cranes that will be used to lift the steel columns, beams, and girders.

Ornamental ironworkers specialize in architectural metal elements such as handrails, stairways, gates, fencing, entrance ways, and interior decor. Ornamental ironworkers are highly skilled at arc welding and are often called finishers as they are responsible for finishing structures after the reinforcement and structural work is done.

Sheet Metal Fabrication

Sheet metal fabrication is the process of using sheet metal to build metal machines and structures. Businesses that specialize in sheet metal fabrication are commonly referred to as fabrication shops, or fab shops for short.

Sheet metal fabricators are skilled tradesmen who frequently work in metal fabrication shops or manufacturing plants. They may specialize in fabrication, installation, or maintenance, but may perform tasks in all three areas.

Objects made from sheet metal surround us every day. Sheet metal workers may fabricate metal roofs, electronics, heating and cooling systems, handrails, piping, auto parts, and much more.

There are as many types of sheet metal as there are types of metal, including aluminum, steel, stainless steel, zinc, copper and a variety of alloys. Sheet metal can be bent, curled, punched, stamped, spun, cut, welded, or stretched to form the desired shape and structure of its manufacturer. This high level of versatility makes sheet metal a go-to material across a wide variety of industries which require some sort of customized fabrication.   

The delicate nature of sheet metal makes it highly susceptible to warping and other damage during production runs. To reduce loss and maximize efficiency, precision laser, plasma, and water jet cutting tools are used in sheet metal fabrication to cut directly where needed without overheating or damaging the metal.

At Superior Steel Fabrication, we specialize in precision sheet metal fabrication. Primarily servicing clients in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada, we are quickly becoming the go-to sheet metal fabrication shop on the West Coast.

Contact Superior Steel Fabrication today or give us a call at (541) 242-6420 to discuss the details of your project and request a quote.

Superior Steel

At Superior Steel Fabrication, we are passionate about what we do and strive to always improve our customer first mission. We do whatever it takes to meet and exceed your project’s requirements. Contact us today, so we can start a conversation about your needs or upcoming project.

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3451 W 1st Ave
Eugene, OR