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A fabrication drawing is a type of schematic, often used in manufacturing, construction design, and architecture projects. It’s a detailed drawing, showing all of the components in an assembly, whatever that might be defined as in each industry. An “assembly” can also mean a single part in some cases. There is a lot of versatility in how fabrication drawings can be used, how much detail they show, and whether there is only one or many for the same project. 

The main areas where fabrication drawings are used are:

  • Structural Steel Design
  • Sheet Metal Design
  • Architectural Steelwork Design
  • Handrails Design
  • Stairs Design

There are three general types of fabrication drawings for any project in any industry:

  1. A single part drawing will depict all the information needed about the part. It shows the dimensions and scale of the part, as well as the material the part is made from. This type of fabrication drawing also tells you about the cutting, dimensions, and weight of the materials needed for the part.
  2. In a full assembly drawing, often a parts list and materials list are included, sometimes called the bill of materials. It will also have information on how each part is attached to the assembly and how they join together. This is particularly true for production fabrication drawings used in manufacturing plants but applies to many other industries as well.
  3. General arrangement drawings depict the “big picture” of the project, so to speak. This drawing holds all the information needed for the final structure, including how all the individual parts fit together. Often times more than one general arrangement drawing is created, to show the full assembly from different angles. The goal of the arrangement drawings is to diffuse any assumptions that could be made, so the more angles the better, so long as they are accurate and cohesive. 

Each type of fabrication drawing gives specifics about what is depicted in the drawing. This includes details about how a part or structure is built, what materials are needed, how it is put together, and how it is installed (if it needs to be). The complexity of the project will dictate how many of these drawings need to be created for any one project and whether all three types are necessary. More times than not, all three are used and often involve more than one drawing of all three types, to present the assemblies from different angles. 

A single part drawing will include information on:

  • Material specification
  • Linear dimensions
  • Angular dimensions
  • Hole dimensions
  • Section/plate size
  • Weight specifications
  • Developed sheet

These drawings can sometimes be the only source for this type of information on a project. If the information is missing or inaccurate, it can cause project delays, which can cost a lot of money to resolve if you’re on a tight deadline. A general assembly drawing will include the following information:

  • Assembly numbers
  • Dimension grid
  • Angular dimensions of assembly positions
  • Weight(s)
  • Levels
  • General material specification
  • General finish specification
  • Connection design

No matter what industry the fabrication drawing is being used in, it is absolutely critical that the information given on the drawing is accurate and correct. If measurements are off even slightly, they can have disastrous consequences. For example, if the measurements listed for a building structure are incorrect, the architecture won’t be sound, putting anyone who comes into contact with the construction or finished building at risk of damage or collapse that could happen as a result. 

The major problems that can arise from wrong or missing information on a fabrication drawing include:

  • The assembly is put together wrong. If information is missing from fabrication drawings, it can leave the instructions for assembly up to interpretation, giving room for human error to occur. It is also possible for inaccurate information to be given, causing the assembly to be put together incorrectly, until a new fabrication drawing can be created. This wastes precious time and resources, especially if additional materials are needed to fix any mistakes that happened when the assembly was put together the wrong way.
  • Construction or manufacturing begins without the fabrication drawings. In order to ensure accuracy, fabrication drawings are submitted to quality assurance checks before being delivered to production or construction crews. If the drawing has to go through more than one round of QA, it can cause delays, making the construction crews antsy to begin their job. If the delays last too long, they may begin the job without the drawings.
  • Too much or too little material is purchased. Without the right information on a fabrication drawing, it becomes much more difficult to assess how much material is needed for a job. Too much material is always better than too little but can still be a costly mistake if the material is very expensive and can’t be returned or used for another job.
  • The assembly gets damaged. This can happen in a number of ways, mostly relating to putting together the assembly incorrectly. If the parts don’t fit together the way it says they should on the fabrication drawing, sometimes the assembler will try to force them together, damaging the materials. If the parts aren’t listed correctly, an assembler may try joining two incompatible parts, which could also damage them.
  • Injuries occur. As mentioned earlier, if a structure is put together the wrong way, it won’t have the intended and estimated structural integrity, making it a risk to continue working on for the construction team. If the problem is not identified before the end of the project, it could be a life-threatening issue for anyone using the building, structure, or tool.

Some would argue that fabrication drawing is better done in a shop environment, where measurements and tooling are more precise, than in a field environment, where mistakes can be made for the sake of efficiency. While both are still viable practices and are still used equally, the real stress of fabrication drawings is accuracy and detail, which certainly favour a shop environment. Fabrication drawings do not necessarily require long periods of time in order to complete, but because they are so precise, the current amount of time should always be allocated to them. Rushing completion in an effort to save time and get things started will likely only result in dreadful mistakes.

There is also debate as to how fabrication drawings should be created. Many designers continue to make them the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper. As design software advances, though, using computer-aided design (CAD services) to help you create your fabrication drawing can save you a lot of time. Even by-hand fabrication drawers will usually use a CAD software to double check their calculations and dimensions before submitting their drawing for review.

If you don’t have access to a shop, or don’t have the right equipment or space to create fabrication drawings (or simply don’t want to do it), let us help. Cad Crowd has an international database of freelance fabrication drawing designers who have the knowledge, skill, and expertise to assist you in creating the fabrication drawing you need to move on to the next step in the process.

If you have a design idea, but don’t know how to get it onto paper, hold your own engineering design contest and let our fabrication drawers create the first draft for you. This way, you can even get suggestions on sizing and materials to use for the construction of your design. You only have to pay for the winning design and get to keep the rest of the designs, as well.

Contact us for a free confidential quote on your fabrications drawings project.

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