The Top Qualities a Metal Fabrication Company Should Have

The services offered by metal fabrication companies vary from one company to another. Some provide bulk production runs at a relatively lower cost, whereas others cater to smaller businesses that offer more customization options. Some offer a wide range of services, while others only specialize in some types of services. Most companies, however, try to build lasting relationships with their clients.

Before you decide on the best metal fabrication company to partner with, look at the options from different angles. Here are 4 aspects to consider in choosing the right metal fabrication:

Capabilities

When it comes to metal fabrication capabilities, you could take a look at the area itself. Check if it is spacious enough to meet your business requirements with no risk of production issues. Also, look at the services offered. Here are some of the common questions on capabilities you can ask any metal fabrication company you are planning to work with.

What materials does the company use?

This is a good question to ask, since manufacturers work with different products. For instance, you want to make sure that the metal fabrication company has the tools to work on the size and thickness you need. Similarly, you want one that is capable of working with your particular type of metal.

What production services in particular does the company offer?

You may have a project that requires a simple service, or one that needs a multitude of production capabilities. Some of the major capabilities are assembly, cutting and forming, fastening, installation, metal finishing (like blasting or painting), single/large production runs and welding.

Experience

Experience matters a lot when it comes to industries such as manufacturing. You must make sure that all employees of the metal fabrication company have lots of experience in the industry to steer clear of costly mistakes.

Find out if the metal fabrication company you are considering is familiar with the industry regulations and codes. Let them describe the way they have polished up operations over the years to be exceptionally efficient and safe. Inquire about similar projects accomplished. Seek references from previous customers – surely, a reliable metal fabrication company will have a lot.

Prioritizing Customer Service

Long-term relationships with metal fabrication companies or any business for that matter are built on great customer service. After all, no one wants to work with a company that does not prioritize your unique business needs or does not budge on your important details.

Price as Compared to Other Companies and What You Pay For

Try to ask for price quotes from each, but don’t just compare them based on their price. There is a reason for the differences in prices, which could work to your advantage. For instance, one company might be using more accurate cutting tools or higher quality metal to avoid costly mistakes in the long run. Some have a higher price because their small shops offer customized services. Though buying in bulk is cheaper, it might not be what your specific project requires. A company’s location could also go against the cheaper price it offers.

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Tips on Choosing the Right Prototype Manufacturer

It is great to manage your own business, and exciting to create fresh new products for your market. In order to succeed in launching any product line, you need to produce unique products that appeal to the market. For this reason, it is crucial to test your products by means of building prototypes to ensure that the finished product comes out fast and right. To accomplish this, you need to find the right prototype manufacturer.

Small Minimum Orders

As a start, in searching for a prototype manufacturing service provider to create your new product, opt for one with small minimum orders. All custom manufacturing companies or manufacturers of metal products have a minimum order quantity (or MOQ requirement), which you need to comply with to let them work on the job. Usually, MOQs range from 100 to 10,000 pieces. If you have a small-scale business, it is best to remain within your budget. So, look for a prototype contract manufacturing company that only requires small minimum orders, so it is easier to go to market.

Tooling and Molding

Next, remember that you are creating something that has never been done before, so you have to find a custom manufacturing company that could make your prototype; this provider also needs to make tooling and molds to produce your product. The prices of tooling and molding can range from $1,000 to $250,000 or even more. Reputable custom manufacturing service providers will try to lower your costs of investment for you – to be able to invest more in the actual product development and marketing.

Lead Times

One more thing to pay attention to when choosing a manufacturer is shorter lead times. A manufacturer of metal products, whether for your prototype or final product, has to be capable of giving fast turnaround times. If your product cannot be produced in time for your pre-sold products to be delivered, or inventory to be restocked, you can be sure to see an increase in returns and refunds. The prototype manufacturing company that will be able to deliver a continuous supply of goods can contribute to the success of your business.

Bill of Materials

Also opt for a manufacturing company that will help in the breakdown of costs of materials. No matter what is used, it is important to know the cost of each and every material, including the smallest items, and a good manufacturing company will provide you with a breakdown to show transparency on the materials used.

Quality

Last of all, it is important to ask the manufacturer for an explanation on their quality assurance processes for the finishing and transport of your products. The use of computer numerical control (or CNC manufacturing) can greatly increase the quality of your products. At times, companies that make use of this process are categorized as CNC manufacturing companies. When you choose such a company, you can be sure that this firm will be very reliable and consistent, since they have an automated rather than a man-operated production line.

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Custom Metal Fabrication and How It Works

The process by which metal is cut, shaped or molded into a final product is known as metal fabrication. Here are included metal bars, metal rods, sheet metal and stock metal components that come in a wide range of material and dimensional specifications. Additionally, a lot of fabrication shops can create metal products in a vast assortment of sizes and shapes. There are times, though, when manufacturers require a non-standard, distinct metal product, and custom metal fabrication services can supply the design, as well as assist in producing these made-to-order components.

Types of Services

A custom metal fabrication service can assist in any stage of the development process. No matter what you need, whether it is a complete production run or component assembly project, you can benefit from the following different services:

  • Design – a particular part or product characteristic is conceptualized, created and analyzed
  • Build – the metal product is constructed
  • Finishing and assembly – the quality of product is enhanced by means of post-fabrication treatments

Assembly and Finishing

Some metal products require additional finishing treatments to accomplish the specifications as planned. Assembly services may be needed as well to combine two or more components to form a single functional unit. Some of the common secondary treatments required are adhesive bonding, grinding, painting, sawing, screwing, bolting deburring and riveting.

Materials used

The majority of these products are created from various metals and alloys that are commonly used, such as aluminum, silver, gold, copper, brass, nickel, iron, tin titanium and different grades of steel.

Deciding on a Shop

It is very important to decide on which shop would meet your needs and expectations, since this can have an effect on the quality of production, rate of manufacturing, plus the cost efficiency of a given project. So, consider the following factors to help you choose:

Experience

It is best to opt for a custom metal fabrication service with a good reputation in terms of service, and who has years of experience.

Industries served

It would help to find out the industries that this shop services, and the kinds of products/processes it specializes in to know if they meet your requirements.

Resources

To know more about their capabilities and quality of their metal products, check the shop’s available machinery plus tooling capacity.

Type of Production

Whether the production run is high-volume vs. low-volume and short-term vs. long-term, this should be one of the crucial factors you need to consider when choosing the service that suits you best.

Stock materials

Last of all, you need to make sure that the custom metal fabrication service has the ability to supply the particular metal to be used for a product.

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Different Metal Finishing Types

Metal finishing is a process by which the exterior of a metal product is treated by means of applying a thin matching layer to its surface. There are several types of metal finishing processes that can be used for different purposes. Here, we will look into the most important finishing methods, applications and factors that need to be considered in deciding on a metal finishing process. When this finishing treatment is applied to a metal product, some of the benefits it receives are as follows:

  • Enhanced durability
  • More decorative appeal
  • Improved electrical conductivity
  • Greater electrical resistance
  • Greater chemical resistance
  • Greater tarnish resistance
  • Vulcanization potential

Metal Plating

Metal plating machines utilize a chemical bath in coating or modifying a substrate’s surface with a thin layer of metal like PTFE or nickel. To coat the substrate, the electroplating method produces an electric current, whereas electroless plating uses an autocatalytic process wherein the substrate catalyzes the reaction.

As s finishing process, metal plating gives some advantages. It can enhance a product’s corrosion resistance, durability, exterior look and surface friction. It can be useful in coating other metals as well. A barrel-finishing machine performs fast and efficient plating during high-volume production runs. In general, though, plating machines are not effective in smoothing out blemishes on the surface.

Brushed Metal

On the other hand, brushed metal finishing is effective in removing surface defects. These machines produce an even, parallel grain texture to smooth out the exterior of a product. To come up with this effect, it uses a wire brush or abrasive belt. Moreover, the singular direction of the brush or belt can produce slightly curved edges that are vertical to the grain.

Buff Polishing

If you need a smooth and non-textured finish, you can opt for a buff polishing machine. To buff the surface of the product, the machine makes use of a cloth wheel, which gives a high, glossy, shiny finish. This process is best for decorative items since it enables them to look smoother and more lustrous.

Buff polishing machines have a tendency to make a product rounder at its edges. Due to the limitations of the cloth wheel range, they are not too effective for applications that require fragile and intricate features.

Metal Grinding

To smooth out the surface of a metal product, grinding machines make use of attrition, compression and friction. The several types of grinding machines are designed to give various levels of smoothness. For instance, a ball-grinding machine may be effective in grinding cement products, but may not work for projects that are more extensive.

Majority of metal grinding machines are made with a substrate within a rotating drum. Rod mills make metal rods, whereas autogenous and semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mills are used is smoothing out gold, silver, platinum and copper.

Metal Vibratory Finishing

To get rid of sharp edges and deburr products, vibratory finishing machines are used. The material is placed in a drum that is full of abrasive pellets and a substrate, then tumbling vibration is applied to produce an even random texture. The cycle speed and vibration magnitude of the machine are typically erratic, enabling treatment to be effective for different sizes of parts.

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Requesting a Quotation From a Nut Retainers Manufacturer

The moment you come across potential nut retainer suppliers, how will you approach them?

The most important question you need to ask is “how much?” However, before requesting for a quotation from a supplier, take some time to organize your thoughts so you will know which questions you should ask. Preparing a well-thought email will increase the likelihood of getting a response and more accurate information.

Here are a number of very important questions to ask in your email:

What is your minimum order quantity?

First, make sure that their minimum order quantity requirement is both manageable and affordable. Based on the product and supplier, the minimum quantity can vary considerably, so it is best to go straight to the point.

What is your pricing when it comes to samples?

Prior to placing an order, you would like to see samples. Sample pricing varies, depending on the supplier and product. Some suppliers that get many requests may modify the full retail prices. Other suppliers sell samples at a discounted price, while some of them give out free samples.

What is your pricing in terms of production?

A very critical question that you should ask is how much their products cost. Perhaps you will want to request for pricing of different quantities to assess how they discount prices when more nut retainers are ordered.

How long will it take to finish the project?

Another important factor to consider is the turnaround time. Time can be crucial, depending on your type of business.

What are your terms of payment?

Most suppliers require new businesses to pay the full amount for their order. This is very important, since for ecommerce business that are just starting up, inventory is a major expense.

Requests for quotations continuously flood the emails of suppliers, and these can include those from dishonest buyers who are just testing them, therefore it is just natural for them not to respond to some requests. New ecommerce entrepreneurs usually complain about the lack of responsiveness of some suppliers.

To avoid being ignored, there are a number of things to avoid when it is your first time to reach out to nut retainer suppliers:

Lengthy emails

In your first email to a supplier, you should be clear and straight to the point. Don’t talk about yourself or your background. Your email should simply aim to evaluate whether the supplier is ideal for your business. Find out what they care about the most, if it includes the details you want to source.

Asking for too many quotes

It is not always easy for suppliers to give what you request. Just ask what is important, such as the prices of different quantities. Avoid asking more quotes than what you need. Just stick to what is required so you could assess whether the supplier is suitable for you.

Requesting a quote for a very small quantity

When you request for a quote that is below the minimum order of the nut retainers supplier, do not expect a response. If you are not sure whether your request is too small to meet this, just call them or send a short email with your question asking about their minimum order.

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The Fundamentals of Metal Cutting

Perhaps the most common procedure done in a stamping die is cutting. In this process, metal is cut off by placing it in the small gap between the two bypassing tool steel sections. This gap is also known as the cutting clearance. The metal cutting process does not only require a great amount of force, but it creates a great deal of shock as well. That is why metal cutting is among the most severe stamping operations. Too much shock can result to die sections that break, punches that snap and presses that fail.

Imagine the situation wherein you are holding a hammer and were told to set it on a nail, then put it into a piece of wood; you are not likely to achieve anything. However, if you were instructed to raise the hammer then strike the nail, it would surely go into the piece of wood with not much effort. The power of the hammer as it falls, together with the shock, carries out the required work.

If ever you have been in a stamping plant where thick, high-strength steel is being cut, you could literally feel the floor vibrate each time the press cycled. Presses that are designed for cutting high-strength or heavy materials often come with additional heavy-duty frames plus components that can endure incredible shock. Some presses are incorporated with special dampening units to help absorb and dissipate the shock.

What Occurs During Metal Cutting?

As a start, you have to be aware that at times, you have to change the way you see sheet metal. In spite of its physical appearance, strength, weight and density, it is an elastomer. This means that, when it is exposed to a great amount of force, it behaves just like rubbery plastic. It is comparable to Silly Putty, the rubbery stuff inside a red egg, which you may have played with during your childhood. There are metals that are a lot more rubbery than others. On the other hand, high-strength steel and other harder metal are far from what Silly Putty looks like.

In many cutting processes, the metal is stressed until it fails between two components or bypassing die sections. In order for metal to be cut, the die needs a cutting punch, as well as mating section to which the punch goes through. The cutting clearance or distance between cutting sections differs as regards to the type of metal, hardness, thickness and desired edge quality.

Too much or too little clearance between cutting sections can create excessive burr on the part. To reduce the burr height, there must be a sufficient cutting clearance between the cutting sections, and these should be ground from time to time to keep a perfectly square edge. The process of grinding die sections is simply called “sharpening the section” by diemakers and technicians.

Once the mating and punch sections have been ground, they have to be regularly shimmed back up to their operational height. Shimming refers to the process through which thin sheets of stainless steel or other material are placed below the ground section to compensate for what has been ground off. Grinding and shimming are the common tasks performed in a basic maintenance procedure.

What Is Sheet Metal Stamping and What Is It Used for?

The saying that goes “necessity is the mother of invention” can be summed up in only one word, which is “need”. Big companies, including manufacturers of automobiles, aircraft and appliances frequently propel the need for sheet metal tooling. Such companies are known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs.

When an OEM is aware that there is a need for a part or new product line, it will find out the best way to produce it. This is where it is important to have enough information about several different processes. For instance, when a large-volume part can be stamped instead of undergoing casting, it can be produced at a relatively lower cost.

Though a number of OEMS can build the tooling as well as run the dies on their own, they frequently outsource the production of these parts. They may hire the services of a company to produce the parts to meet their need. Such companies that work in cooperation with the OEMs are known as Tier 1 suppliers.

How does a Sheet Metal Stamping Operation Work?

In this operation, the sheet metal is cut, then formed into the preferred shape. Though a sheet metal stamping process may make use of several different types of special machines, it requires three most important basic items: stamping die, stamping press and sheet metal from which the part will be made.

The majority of sheet metal stamping operations entail cold forming, except for a specialized sheet metal stamping method commonly known as hot stamping. In essence, this means that heat is not purposely introduced into the sheet metal or die. It is important to remember that though stamping is a cold-forming process, heat is produced. Cutting/forming sheet metal generates friction between the die and metal, similar to the heat and friction produced when rubbing hands together.

Since heat is produced from friction during the process of cutting and forming, when stamped parts exit the dies, they are often very hot.

What Are the Occupations Associated with Sheet Metal Stamping?

There are lots of stamping-related careers available, including die process engineers, die designers, machinists, diemakers and die maintenance technicians.

Process engineers are in charge of determining the steps required to transform a flat metal sheet into a finished part, which is a crucial job. A single error can immediately cause the whole process to fail.

Die designers design the tools needed to effectively carry out the process that has been established. Most individuals can work both as process engineers and die designers. The latter can be more effective when they fully understand mechanical motion, material strengths and the different types of tool steel. They are experts at operating computer-aided software or CAD.

Machinists cut die components from specific materials to their proper proportions.

Diemakers assemble, as well as construct the tool. They have to test the die to make sure that it functions well and continuously produces a piece part that is good enough.

Production die maintenance technicians are responsible for the maintenance and repair of stamping dies.

What is a Stamping Die?

A stamping die is a unique precision tool, which is used to cut metal sheet and form it into a particular shape. Dies contain cutting and forming sections that are usually made from special hardenable steel, known as tool steel. These cutting and forming sections can also be made from different hard wear-resistant materials, like carbide.

Stamping is a cold-forming process, in which heat is neither used on purpose into the die nor the sheet. However, since the cutting and forming process entails friction, which in turn generates heat, stamped parts that leave the dies are often very hot. Dies used in making microelectronics are available in a variety of sizes, some small enough to fit your palm, while others can reach 20 square ft by 10-ft. thickness and can, therefore, be used in making the sides of an automobile body.

Types of Dies

There are different types of stamping dies, and all perform any of the two basic operations of cutting, forming or both. There are robotically-loaded line dies, manually-loaded line dies, fully-automated progressive dies and fully-automated transfer dies.

Cutting

The operation most commonly done in a stamping die is cutting. To cut off the metal, it is placed between 2 bypass tool steel sections with a small gap in between them, which is also referred to as the cutting clearance.

Cutting clearance can vary, depending on the type of cutting operation done, properties of metal and the preferred edge condition of the part. Usually, the cutting clearance is expressed in terms of metal thickness percentage. The cutting clearance most commonly used is approximately 10% of the metal’s thickness.

There are several different cutting operations that come with their own distinct function. The most common are as follows:

Trimming

The external perimeter of the flat sheet metal is cut off to give the desired shape to the piece part. The excess is usually discarded as scrap.

Notching

Notching, which is often associated with progressive dies, is a process wherein cutting is done progressively on the outer part of a sheet metal strip to produce a given strip profile.

Blanking

Blanking is a double-purpose cutting operation often done on a larger scale. It is used in operations where the slug is kept for more pressworking. At times, it is used to sever finished piece parts detached from the sheet metal. The shaped sheet metal slug taken out from the sheet through this process is known as the blank, a piece of sheet metal that can be later cut or formed.

Piercing

Piercing, also called perforating, is an operation wherein metal is cut to produce a round, square or specially-shaped hole in a formed part or flat sheet metal. Piercing is different from blanking mainly because the slug is removed as scrap in piercing, while the slug is used in blanking. The cutting punch that creates the hole is known as the pierce punch and the hole is called the matrix.

Lancing

Lancing is the process of slicing or slitting the metal to free up metal, but not separate it from the strip. Lancing is usually performed in progressive dies to produce a part carrier known as a flex or stretch web.

Shearing

Since shearing cuts or slices the metal along a straight line, this method is commonly used for creating square and rectangular blanks.