It’s becoming harder and harder these days to find a landscape that isn’t framed by buildings, skyscrapers, and structures of all kinds. But when it comes to making the buildings add something more to the skyline — architectural metal work has worked wonders to transform steel and more into the strong, massive, and even beautiful structures you see every day. After all, if you have to see buildings they might as well be pleasing to the eye, right?
Every year, metal fabrication is used to provide architectural fabrications of every size. From steel bollards to grand arches and intricate staircases — architectural metalwork has become a massive industry that has continually combined state of the art equipment and engineering expertise to shape skylines around the world. But what does it typically entail?
Architectural fabrication can be found in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and include processes ranging from welding to high precision laser cutting. Lately, with commercial construction experiencing a welcome upturn after a crippling economy, new trends are beginning to emerge in non-residential architectural fabrication. To a large degree, design tended to focus on work with I beams, H beams, and C channels. However, the use of tubular components and hollow structural sections (otherwise known as HSS) have becoming more and more popular over the years.
Over the last several years, hollow structure sections have been making serious headway for non-residential construction projects. This has largely been due to the weight to strength ratios of hollow structure sections, which are about 20% stronger and typically weight about half as much as a wide-flange section, making it incredibly economical for today’s builders. On top of this, HSS construction sections are also much easier to finish and more aesthetically pleasing. One of the reasons architectural fabrication has contributed to so much growth and so many breathtaking projects is because of the technology used to accomplish it.
One significant reason for the rise of recent trends in architectural fabrication is the growing use of laser welding and cutting tools — which make the processing of these parts very efficient, especially for tubular construction sections.
Many of the tools used for architectural fabrications are even capable of using multiple programmed tools at once to allow for extremely complex workpieces. Additionally, when it comes to many large scale architectural fabrication products, lasers also allow fabricators to eliminate the need for extensive milling by simply using high powered lasers to make incredibly accurate, fast, and efficient cuts, holes, bevels and more. While it’s hardly all about lasers, they stand as a perfect example to illustrate the way growing technology is actively helping industry change our world and the way it looks.
So next time you’re admiring a sunset over the city skyline or marveling at the intricacies of a museum or public building — take a moment to consider the years of innovation and experience that made it all possible.