Fabrication vs Manufacturing: What’s The Difference?

Fabrication vs Manufacturing

Just like any words we use in our vocabulary, the way these terms (fabrication vs manufacturing) are used are constantly growing and changing.



  1. The action or process of manufacturing or inventing something:

“The assembly and fabrication of electronic products.”

Oxford Dictionaries

Here, we see a modern definition of fabrication. In the past, you would see it referring to the makeup of components, or parts instead of entire products. Now, the modern definition seems more appropriate because it also speaks to invention, and hints to prototyping.



  1. The making of articles on a large-scale using machinery; industrial production: 

“Even in manufacturing, they no longer dominate.”

Oxford Dictionaries

With this definition, we find the distinction related to the scale of the production – so we can fabricate for custom work, and unique items. If you want to sell products at scale in large numbers, then you want to manufacture.

What is Fabrication?

If you have watched an episode or two of the popular TV show “Shark Tank” you have likely heard the business owners address the cost per unit to produce their product. Deciding when to shift from fabrication to mass manufacturing can be an important business decision.

Those starting out marketing and selling new products prefer just-in-time (JIT) product delivery. Typically, just-in-time production uses forms of fabrication. This first took root in the 1980s when Japanese manufacturers wanted to test parts delivery for components that went into larger finished electronic items. They discovered that if they didn’t have to store parts, they could save manpower, space, and many other costs associated with manufacturing at scale. So, at first, fabrication was used to fill those demands.

Sheet metal fabrication specifically tells a rich story, with evidence of fabrication and metalworking dating back as far as the ancient civilizations of the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Egyptians. During the Industrial Revolution, the invention of the steam engine, and other massive technological leaps forward brought sheet metal fabrication into the modern age. In the early 20th century, sheet metal fabricators revolutionized the industry with new techniques allowing for stronger, more durable products.

Now, sheet metal fabrication is common practice across a variety of industries, and modern technology like Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) have made sheet metal fabrication more efficient and more precise than ever before.

The heart of fabrication was still in the custom items markets even in the 80s, however. It is hard to tell where it truly began to grow and scale the most. In metal fabrication with customer rims and wheels for cars, or in wood fabrication with custom-made guitars. Both industries saw massive growth as early as the 70s, in the USA and around the world.

Fabrication egyptians

Modern Fabrication

Today, modern fabrication gives product designers more flexibility than ever before. You can go from rough designs on a napkin to functional items in weeks. This used to take months. What used to cost thousands, now costs a mere fraction of that expense.

We likely have all heard about 3D printing technology. It is a hot buzzword to people outside the product development world. Those who look on from afar and need to prototype something new turn to this method. Yet some of the most impressive designs and beloved new products come from metal fabrication.

Modern metal fabrication allows you to create durable items, ready for use, or sale. We can make anything you can dream of with metal fabrication. Household goods, collectibles, custom art, signs, the list is almost endless. In the last 30 days, we have crafted items such as Christmas decorations, cell phone holders, accessibility tools, custom signs, art, and much more.

It is all possible with modern equipment. You can now cut and fabricate metal on 4-axis. This means you can create more complex items that offer more depth and complex design function. As a metal fabricator, we have more than just industrial plasma cutters. We also have the finest CNC equipment on the market. More important than the equipment is our people. Our professionals are true tradespeople whom have spent their entire professional careers making people’s product ideas become a reality.

Modern industries regularly call for more complicated and complex parts, modern fabrication and sheet metal fabrication technology helps fabricators and sheet metal fabricators meet the requirements and demands. Complex fuselage panels and engine components are always in demand for aerospace applications, body panels for the automotive industry, computer cases and enclosures for electronics, to name a few. Modern sheet metal fabrication and highly skilled sheet metal fabricators are an often unseen component of what makes many of our cutting edge technology possible.

Modern Manufacturing

As mentioned in the sections above, the difference between fabrication and manufacturing is a difference of scale, and the same is true when it comes to modern industries. Just as modern fabrication calls for more precise and complex tools and designs, modern manufacturing calls for updated, more efficient ways of delivering this fabrication on a large scale. 

From focuses like Industrial manufacturing and energy manufacturing, to supply chain & purchasing manufacturing, modern manufacturing requires manufacturers to handle not only the right tools, but also the right logistics. You need to find the right manufacturing partner to deliver clients the parts they need at a high quality and in an appropriate time frame. Expertise and capacity are the name of the game, and IMS has got you covered on both–across all industries.

solar farm manufacture

Integrated Manufacturing Solutions (IMS)

They say it takes 10,000 hours doing the same tasks to become a master. This was covered in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers. Today, many studies have been done and papers written to dispute that as a myth. For trade industries, that amount of experience has direct benefits. Experience and hands-on knowledge impact not only the way one approaches a fabrication effort, but it also impacts the ability to draw on years of experience to accomplish new things and create astounding new products. Our team of tradespeople have gone well beyond the 10,000 hours of experience in the field.

But, we know that experience alone is not enough. We understand that true excellence lies in the synergy between modern techniques, cutting-edge equipment, and our skilled tradespeople. When mastery meets innovation, the results are nothing short of sensational. Our team combines their extensive experience with a deep understanding of the intricacies and nuances of modern manufacturing technology, ensuring optimal performance and precision.   

Whether you have a specific idea or require a custom order in the Twin Cities, MN area and beyond, IMS is here to be your trusted partner. Our commitment to delivering a comprehensive fabrication and manufacturing experience, from inception to completion, sets us apart from our competitors. With our team by your side, you can expect unparalleled craftsmanship, precision, and attention to detail with every project. Contact us today and elevate your next project! 

Ready for a Free Quote?

We proudly serve the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. It only takes a minute! Select the service you’d like, upload your designs, and a member of our team will respond with a free quote as soon as possible. If you don’t have design mockups, or need some help figuring out a design, we’d love to help! Simply give us a call and a member of our team would be happy to answer any questions you have.

Lead Time

3 days

Parts Completed


Manufacturing Footprint

55,000 sq ft.

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