Constructing custom metal parts from sheet metals through processes like punching, cutting, stamping or bending may appear straightforward at first glance, but effective quality custom metal solutions require high skill levels and excellence in fabrication.
Typically, the first step in custom metal fabrication is cutting the metal into the desired shape using laser cutters or shears. After the metal is cut, you can opt to have it bent into a more precise shape and then welded together. Lastly, the part is checked for accuracy and given a rust-resistant protective powder coat to maximise durability.
Because of the complex techniques involved at every stage of the fabrication process, manufacturers end up spending a lot of time correcting avoidable errors mainly caused by the gap between sheet metal design in CAD systems and their in-shop fabrication.
There are several best practices to apply to avoid costly errors and ensure top quality in custom metal fabrication. To maintain high-precision outputs in your custom metal solutions, it is vital to develop essential custom fabrication skills, automated equipment and simplified procedures.
In this article, we’ll share some insight into what elements in your metal fabrication procedures you should keep a close eye on to ensure quality is present in any custom metal solutions you offer in terms of bending and welding.
To be able to guarantee output excellence and quality in any and all parts designed, it’s vital to identify where your team is strongest. This is the first best practice. After that, it’s essential to identify where the team is lacking technical skills, technology or learning and take the necessary steps to remedy these issues, ensuring that each step in your process is quality-assured and running to its highest capacity and potential. Let’s look at some vital skills first.
One of the essential skills needed to deliver quality metal fabrication is the use of innovative technology. At AMP Metal Fabrication, we employ cutting-edge technology and equipment such as computer numerical control (CNC) machines which generate immediately executable code based on model geometry and constraints. This enables us to provide higher quality products, faster outputs and less waste, which ultimately delivers cost savings for our clients on a global scale.
Also crucial to achieving quality custom metal fabrications are addressing welding differences and ensuring proper welding positioning and accuracy. The different metals used in fabrication projects require different welding techniques. Some metals have high melting points while others don’t, so there’s no such thing as a universal welding or bending method. It’s important to know which methods deliver the best results depending on the properties of each metal, be it aluminium, steel or copper.
Maintaining and improving team skills is a necessary and continuous process. However, developing skill sets alone is not enough to achieve quality custom metal solutions. Knowledge and skills are only part of the industry equation. In the following paragraphs, we’ll uncover some of the best bending and welding practices that have come about as a result of AMP metal’s years of industry experience.
Keeping the manufacturer who will utilise the fabricated parts front and centre is now standard practice necessary to bridge the gap between sheet metal design and in-shop fabrication. This approach is called design for manufacturing or manufacturability (DFM) and reduces errors and engineering change orders, leading to massive cost savings. With that in mind, here are the 3 DFM best practices for bending and welding.
As concluded by iSixSigma, standardised work is the most efficient method to produce a product at a balanced flow to achieve a desired output rate. Standardisation methods like Six Sigma break the work down into elements which are sequenced, organised and repeatedly adhered to. Adopting this system will ensure every operator cuts the metal the exact same way and gets the same end results.
With standardisation, manufacturers can plan projects with graded parts in mind. For the metal fabricator, standardised processes or operations mean reduced variability in product characteristics and quality. They also entail optimised training for new operators because of the existence of well-crafted documentation in standardised operations. Once your entire metal fabrication workflow has been pinpointed and outlined, the standard work should demonstrate the desired properties of the work being performed.
Another advisable practice is the institutionalisation of continuous innovation with respect to CNC programming and solutions. Frequent reviewing of CNC programmes coupled with operator experience can assist in optimising bending processes. This ensures that the constantly changing bending and welding challenges are met with continuous innovations.
With quality in mind, your output in terms of custom metal solutions will remain top-tier, and each piece of CNC equipment will easily recuperate with each new CNC programme update. Ensuring that your standardised workflow consists of sophisticated, state-of-the-art machinery is just as imperative as developing the team’s current skills.
Ensuring easy loading and unloading of components will facilitate not only the bending and welding processes, but also all subsequent processes. To do this, operators must ensure that the required equipment is not only close by, but also always in the right place to aid repeatability and reduce deviations in time consumption per task. The bottom line is a faster process devoid of unnecessary delays, which invariably leads to time savings.
Custom metal fabrication is a manufacturing process used to assemble, bend and cut metal into parts or end products. The process transforms raw materials into finished components or products based on unique specifications for specific projects. To learn more about this, read our expert guide to custom metal fabrication.
To choose the right fabricator and, by extension, the right fabrication company as a partner, certain considerations have to be made. These include fabricators’ education, training and skill levels. This is necessary due to the high level of complexity and precision that fabrication jobs require. Another important consideration is fabricators’ level of experience and the product quality of their final deliveries.
AMP Metal’s vast knowledge and experience of these best practices and more is what has catapulted the company to great heights. We have institutionalised the practice of putting our customers’ interests at the heart of our operations right from the start of projects to avoid costly errors while delivering excellent quality metal fabrications.
To learn more about our state-of-the-art equipment and our commitment to the highest quality in products and service, contact us for a quote. If your company is in search of custom metal solutions for your next projects, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.