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Duct fabricators, also known as sheet metal workers, work at construction sites and in manufacturing plants in creating ductwork products for the heating and cooling needs of office buildings and residential homes. The fabricators do most of the work involving the ductwork, from the fabrication stage to installation to continued maintenance. Duct fabricators also produce duct work using other materials, such as fiberglass and plastic.
Fabricators review the specifications for the ductwork required for the job. The fabricator determines the type of material that would be appropriate and how much will be necessary to reach every room from the main heating and cooling systems. From available stock, the duct fabricator pulls out the sheets of metal that he will craft into the piping system.
Some duct fabricators use computerized metalworking tools that cut and drill the exact dimensions required from the plan data. The fabricator inputs the specification data and measurements into the computer system. Depending on the type of computerized tool, such as saws, lasers and presses, the equipment cuts and drills the ductwork sheets. If the duct fabricator does not work in a computerized shop, he performs the required calculations using rulers and tape measures to create a preliminary layout of the ductwork on the metal sheets. Afterward, the fabricator cuts out the shapes using the proper tools.
Constant measurements are taken to ensure the accuracy of each crafted piece. If one piece is off on the dimensions by too much, the fabricator must redo the work again by cutting out the necessary shapes. The duct fabricator also uses rotary tools and hacksaws to finish the rough pieces. At this stage, the fabricator joins the seams of the sheet metal together with welds, bolts and connecting devices.
Most ductwork is finished on site during the final installation, or the fabricator will do all the work, from plan specifications to cutting out the ductwork pieces on site. The duct fabricator secures the metal hangers to walls and ceilings to hold the ductwork. He runs it from the heating or cooling system to the metal grating located in every room that will either be forced air registers or cold air return ducts.
Based in southwestern Pennsylvania, Michelle Hickman has written since 2006 on an array of topics including lifestyle, writing instruction and financial services. Her first articles appeared in "The Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Focus Magazine." She holds a certification in computer and information science from Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center.