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How To Join Metal Parts: Welding or Riveting?

Several methods are used for joining metal parts in sheet metal fabrication, with popular methods including soldering, brazing, adhesive, riveting, and welding. Amongst the different metal joining methods highlighted above, riveting and welding are the most common procedures used by many sheet metal services in different capacities. 

Both methods are relatively easy and with unique procedures, advantages, and disadvantages. However, it is unreasonable to use both in a custom metal parts fabrication. While welding is popular due to welders having cool-looking goggles and its other aesthetic appeals, using any of the two methods depends on the engineering and production attributes desired. This includes the desired efficiency, durability, production time, and strength. On how to choose the right way to join metal parts, this article summarizes everything you need to know about welding and riveting and why you should choose any of them.

What is Welding?

What is Welding

Welding is the most popular metal joining method used in structural steel fabrication. It is a permanent metal joining process that involves melting similar or dissimilar metal parts together and allowing them to cool. On cooling, there is a fusion of the parts leading to the formation of rigid joints. 

Welding is suitable for similar and dissimilar metal parts. However, most engineers prefer using it for similar parts. This is because, with similar metal parts, there is no need to factor in different melting points of both materials.

While welding boasts many advantages, it has a few disadvantages. For example, uneven heating and cooling lead to distortion. Also, separation will require breaking the weld joint and it has a high initial investment.

Types of Welding

There are many welding methods used by sheet metal services for joining metal parts. Popular methods include:

  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
  • Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW)
  • Flux-cored Arc Welding (FCAW) 
  • Electroslag Welding (ESW) 

What is Riveting?

What is riveting

Riveting is another metal joining process popularly used with many consumer products. The simplest example is visible in kitchen utensils which utilize rivets to join metal parts instead of welding or other methods. 

Riveting is a semi-permanent method that involves joining two similar or dissimilar metal parts using a mechanical fastener (rivet) without the use of heat. The rivet has a cylindrical head and is inserted into holes drilled between the two parts, and the rivet’s tail is flattened. 

Riveting is more popular as a non-heat metal joining method. However, its disadvantages include: High overall cost, increase in overall weight, and riveted joints creating more noise.

Types of Rivets

There are many types of rivets you can use for joining metal parts. Popular types of rivets include:

  • Blind rivets
  • Solid rivets
  • Tubular rivets
  • Drive rivets
  • Mate rivets
  • Belt rivets

Riveting is the more ideal metal joining method when working with metal parts that experience forces and vibration. 

Why You Should Choose Welding Over Riveting

Why You Should Choose Welding Over Riveting

In sheet metal fabrication, there are many projects that call directly for welding over riveting. Below are reasons why common sheet metal services would advise you to go for welding instead of the other:   

  • It Does Not Increase the Final Product’s Weight

Welding does not alter the weight of the metal parts. This is unlike riveting, in which the rivet still adds to the weight of the final product. Therefore, in products where the weight is important, use welding instead of riveting. 

  • Welding is more Efficiency

Welding is a high-efficiency process. Therefore, it is easier and faster to make final products from different metal parts. This is unlike riveting, where there is a need to first drill holes, make the fasteners, etc. 

  • Additions and Alterations

Welding is the better joining method when there is a need to add or alter a part of the sheet metal parts. On the institution of a rivet and subsequent riveting, it is nigh impossible to add other parts with the same ease as welding. 

  • It Leads to Smooth Structures

On welding, the welded joints become smooth. Consequently, this makes welding a more aesthetically pleasing method of joining metal parts. Rivets, on the other hand, do not provide smooth structures.

  • Strength 

Welding leads to a permanent and rigid joint that is stronger than riveted joints. Welded joints are strong and durable, making them ideal for modern rigid frames. Therefore, most sheet metal fabricators consider welding when looking primarily at strength and rigidity.

  • It has Low Production Time

Welding takes less production time than riveting. Therefore, in situations where there is a need for fast joining of ml parts, welding ietas the ideal method. 

  • Suitable for Most Shapes

Welding is suitable for most shapes. This is unlike riveting, which is impossible to use to join cylindrical metal parts. 

Why You Should Choose Riveting Over Welding

Why You Should Choose Riveting Over Welding

Welding might seem the most popular method for its advantages. However, there are some situations when it will not be suitable. Below are the reasons why you should choose riveting over welding in sheet metal fabrication. 

  • Suitable for Dissimilar Metal Parts

Welding can work with different materials. However, since it is a heat method and different materials have different melting points, there is a problem when trying to join two sheet metal parts of different materials. Riveting is a better choice here, being a non-heat method. 

  • It Does Not Require Heat

Riveting does not require heat. Therefore, it is more suitable for metal parts that are not too stable thermally. For example, riveting is the more common choice when working with aluminum. Consequently, rivets are more common in kitchen utensils. 

  • It is not a Permanent Method 

Unlike welding, riveting is a semi-permanent method. Therefore, it is possible to disassemble the final products into respective parts without altering the properties of each part. This also improves easy inspection in case of possible errors. 

  • Cost

Riveting is a less costly method than welding. Therefore, in areas where cost is the deciding factor, riveting would be the ideal method. 

  • Flexible Design 

Welding leads to rigidity in design, and it is only experienced sheet metal fabricators that can introduce flexibility into the procedure. However, riveting can ensure you have a more flexible design without a loss of structural integrity. 

Conclusion

There are many metal part joining methods you can use in sheet metal fabrication. Popular ones include soldering, brazing, adhesive, riveting, and welding. Of the common ones, most sheet metal services focus more on welding or riveting due to their features, advantages, and disadvantages. Choosing between the two might be a challenge. Therefore, this article introduces the difference between both methods and why should choose them, 

 

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