Studies show that 88% of industrial businesses are now prioritizing sustainable manufacturing as a strategic move to increase operational efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs. This makes custom metal fabrication a critical component for reducing waste and streamlining projects.
In today’s post, we’re providing a deeper understanding of how this innovative manufacturing technique will help you cut project costs while still fulfilling your unique product requirements.
What is Custom Metal Fabrication?
“Metal fabrication” refers to the process of building items from raw metal materials, like sheets. Fabricated items could be as small as a cast-metal part for a machine or as large as an entire piece of equipment.
Unlike traditional stock metal fabrication processes, the custom fabrication process offers flexibility for manufacturing application-specific products. The product specifications may vary across industries such as construction, military and defense, OEMs, etc. depending on the application requirements. Metal fabricators (like Corrugated Metals Inc.) adopt a flexible fabrication approach in order to meet the typical requirements of these industries. This approach not only helps fabricators to design and manufacture application-specific products, but also to ensure product quality and performance in the long run.
Types of Metal Fabrication Processes
Forming raw materials into both simple and complex shapes requires fabricators to follow specific methods depending on the needs and material used. The most common metal fabrication processes include:
- Corrugating – Corrugated metal sheets are fabricated using a cold-form process wherein a flat piece of metal is moved over a series of rollers and pressed, folded, and shaped into desired profiles. This process creates a strong, light, and affordable component used in a variety of construction and industrial applications.
- Roll Forming – Roll forming is a method of metal shaping where long metal strips are passed through sets of rolls that bend the metal into the specified profile. Roll forming increases the strength to weight ratio over plain sheet metal, allowing some shapes to be produced with thinner walls, reducing material costs.
- Perforating – Perforating creates metal for lightweight decorative elements as well as load-bearing structural components. Punch presses use force to make holes in specific shapes and patterns in the metal sheets, and for stamped metal, similar force is used to create textures or patterns without penetrating the material completely.
- Cutting to Length – CTL fabrication involves feeding uncoiled steel rolls through levelers and straighteners to flatten the sheets. A shearing blade then cuts the metal into the specified length within strict tolerances.
- Painted and Unpainted Panels – Pre-painted panels provide additional corrosion protection. Choosing painted or unpainted panels comes down to personal preference – both will provide durability and longevity. (To help decide which is right for you, check out this blog, Painted vs. Unpainted!)
Defining your project needs will help you understand which fabrication processes are required to achieve your desired product outcome.
6 Benefits of Custom Metal Fabrication
Creating custom metal parts and pieces that can be used for various purposes helps make your processes as streamlined as possible. Some key benefits of custom metal fabrication include:
- Made to your specifications – You get exactly what you need, made-to-order, for your operations, design, or project.
- Versatility – There are many types of projects that require parts in shapes, sizes, angles, and configurations that are not typically available elsewhere. For example, the precise panels for a passenger railcar are not an option when buying off-the-shelf products. They must be custom made.
- Longevity – Metal is known for its durability and corrosion resistance, and parts made specifically to meet the needs of a project are stronger than those that are not. These qualities make custom metal a long-lasting choice, increasing the lifespan of your product significantly.
- Saves time and money – Tailored parts made to meet specific needs and requirements save you time on sourcing the correct pieces for a job, removes unexpected costs related to inaccurate measurements, and reduces the number of mistakes that would need to be fixed later on in the project.
- Compatibility and adaptability – With prefabricated metal parts, compatibility isn’t always a given. While these parts may work, they are not optimized for their intended use. With custom metal fabrication, you’ll be able to use adaptable solutions that better fit the specifications of the job.
- Efficacy – An optimized design allows fabricators to tailor products to the structural demand, chemicals, temperatures and forces it will face so it can withstand its expected lifespan.
These benefits indicate a distinct advantage to using custom sheet material versus stock or standardized goods. The lifetime savings – in time and money – more than offset the initial extra costs incurred.
Tips for Choosing a Metal Fabrication Company
Choosing a metal fabrication company requires careful consideration to ensure they can meet all your needs, not just pricing. When selecting your supplier, consider the following factors:
- Experience – Experience is crucial when it comes to metal fabrication. Besides the number of years in the industry, consider asking if they’ve worked on a project like yours before, have manufactured similar products, and if they have other clients with similar needs.
- Quality – Compliance with industry standards allows companies to work reliably and safely, so you can’t compromise on quality. To avoid problems with the materials used in your project, only purchase components that align with (or exceed) the quality standard to which you hold your own products and processes.
- Equipment & resources – Cutting-edge designing and manufacturing technology is important for companies to stay current and meet growing needs. Manufacturers that leverage advanced technology provide versatility to bend with market demands and will use their resources more effectively to benefit your project.
- Communication – An ideal vendor treats customer service as a guiding principle. You want a partner that keeps you completely informed through proactive communication and regular progress reports to avoid unplanned project downtime.
- Competitive Pricing – Be sure your pricing comparisons are apples-to-apples. When reviewing quotes, make sure to take all aspects of the price (experience, quality, fabrication tools and methods, timeline capacity, and communication) into consideration and go with the option that doesn’t sacrifice quality.
Not all vendors are equal; however, these tips will help you find a suitable match for your next project without compromising quality or efficiency.
Custom fabrication provides flexibility, versatility, and precision over stock fabrication. If you want to experience the benefits of custom metal fabrication, you can begin by requesting a quote from CMI. To get started, get in touch with us to learn more and find out how our unrivaled metal capabilities will help save your business time and money.