20 Common Metal Fabrication Terms & Welding Acronyms


Welding and other metal fabrication processes can vary from one company to the next. There are those who weld and assemble simpler designs, such as brackets or ductwork. On the other end of the spectrum are custom fabricators who engineer and build electrical enclosures for naval vessels or other highly complex designs.

When reviewing specifications and proposals, it’s helpful to have a good understanding of metal fabrication terms. Here, we’ll focus on metal fabrication processes that are common among companies that produce highly complex projects.

Metal Fabrication Glossary of Common Terms


Arc Welding

A welding process that uses an electric arc to produce heat which melts metal and joins or fuses it together using filler material and electrodes


Stands for American Welding Society, a non-profit organization that provides standards and certifications with a suite of welding codes for different materials and applications; welders can become AWS certified with proper training

Base Metal

The original metal (aluminum, stainless steel, etc.) that is fabricated into a component


Stands for Computer-Aided Design, a software application used by engineers and designers to create digital 2D and 3D models of fabricated parts prior to being manufactured


Stands for Computer Numerical Control, typically applied to automated, pre-programmed computer settings used to run machining equipment based on engineering specifications


Stands for Design for Manufacturability, a process used to help design or review parts or components to ensure they are able to be produced based on materials, specifications, and other factors

Filler Metal

Alloy or non-alloy metal that is heated to the melting point and applied to weld joints where it flows into the joint and welds/bonds two pieces of metal together


Stands for Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, a complex system that defines specifications for parts using a standardized library of symbols and values with the intent to control variances and achieve extreme precision 


Stands for Gas Metal Arc Welding, also referred to as MIG welding, a process that uses a consumable electrode to produce a weld (See MIG welding)


Stands for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, also referred to as TIG welding, a process that uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode to produce a weld (See TIG welding)

Laser Cutting

A process that uses a laser beam to melt and vaporize metal, cutting it into custom shapes; laser cutting tools never touch the surface, only the laser which typically uses CO2 or fiber optics touches the surfaces

MIG Welding

Stands for Metal Inert Gas and uses Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) equipment that automatically feeds a consumable electrode through a torch gun; it is an easier technique than TIG welding and requires less training

Milling Machine

A piece of equipment that uses rotary cutting tools to shave off or remove material from a piece of metal


Stands for Naval Sea Systems Command and applies to welding requirements and certifications for work on U.S. Navy ships, combat vessels, and submarines for the defense industry


Stands for Quality Data Package, a compilation of reports documenting the traceability of materials, processes, flow downs, and certifications applied to a project, ensuring everything was done to specification 

Press Brake

A machine or piece of equipment that bends metal parts or metal sheets into a variety of shapes and forms


Stands for Request for Quote, where a business or entity will submit documented specifications for products or services in order to request quotes or bids from a supplier 

RELATED: Get Your Metal Fabrication RFQ Checklist

TIG Welding

Stands for Tungsten Inert Gas, a welding technique that uses Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW); a welder manually feeds a tungsten electrode with one hand while positioning the torch with the other and requires more skill and training than MIG welding


A geometric specification that defines how much a part can deviate from its stated dimension

Weld Mapping

A detailed and documented process for achieving desired results, including the number and types of welds, their locations, and other important information, helping to ensure repeatable processes 

While it’s important to understand metal fabrication terminology, there’s no substitute for the experience and skills that a certified metal fabrication company and its team can offer. To learn more about the custom services offered by Fox Valley Metal Tech, contact our experts. If you’re considering submitting an RFQ, please use our helpful checklist below to ensure accurate results.

Metal Fabrication RFQ Guide