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Metal Fabrication

What Is a Standard Machining Surface Finish?

With all the technology currently available, you can take a machined part from concept to prototype to a finished piece and are now able to pinpoint and perfect specific areas of those parts that would have seemed inconceivable just a few short years ago. Whether the component in question was CNC machined, cut by a waterjet, or fabricated with any of the other popular machining processes, great detail can, and is now included, in the surface condition of these parts.

Surface finish is a broad term, with many different meanings, now being used when processing machined parts. As with any process that can deliver this number of alternative solutions, a surface finish has a beginning, or a baseline if you will, that serves as a starting point for the various surface finishes, which you can add to the machining of your particular part.

This post will answer some of the more baseline questions concerning surface finish for those looking to gain a more fundamental understanding of surface finish. Once these definitions and the science behind surface finish become clearer, look into how a company like Elemet Manufacturing can provide cutting and machining services with the desired surface finish for your next prototype or production job.

hybrid surface texture measuring system for surface roughness and contour measurement

What Is the Definition of Surface Finish?

Engineering Choice is an informational website that is a good starting point for understanding the basics of surface finish. The following definition is from EngineeringChoice.com:

“Surface finish, also known as surface texture or surface topography, is the nature of a surface as defined by the three characteristics of lay, surface roughness, and waviness. It comprises the small, local deviations of a surface from the perfectly flat ideal (a true plane).”

Surface finish can be as simple as the finish left behind after machining. In applications where the surface finish does not interfere with the part’s function, to save money on production of the part, no further action is needed for it to be complete and ready to ship to the customer. This type of surface finish can also be labeled as a Standard Machining Surface Finish.

For those parts that need to work in tandem with another part to create a seal, you must specify certain surface finish attributes as part of the manufacturing process. To machine the surface finish to a particular set of specs, you need to know how the surface finish is measured.

What Is Measured for Surface Finish?

The definition above of surface finish mentions three characteristics. These characteristics are lay, surface roughness, and waviness, and it is the measurement of these three characteristics that classify the surface finish. 

Another term used when defining or measuring the surface finish is Surface Topology. Think of surface topology exactly like you would the topology of a geographical map, taking into consideration all the peaks, valleys, and other surface attributes when referring to “the lay of the land.”

Let’s look at the three characteristics and how they contribute to surface topology.

Lay

Think of the surface finish lay just like you would think of the direction of the grain in a piece of plywood or lumber. Manufacturing processes produce the lay, and it can be parallel, perpendicular, circular, cross-hatched, radial, multi-directional, or isotropic (non-directional). Later, in this post, when we address the surface finish chart and how to use it, the Lay measurement will be further explored.

Waviness

Waviness is the broadest spaced variation in the surface finish. These periodic surface imperfections are small enough, short enough, and regular enough that they are not considered defects in the surface finish’s flatness.

Common causes of waviness are warping from extreme temperature changes and machining defects such as deflection from machined pieces of material, inadvertently creating minor surface imperfections.

Waviness requirements are not as common as other surface finish components, but they are integral in machining parts used as bearing races and sealed parts.

Roughness

These are minor irregularities in the geometry of the surface. Roughness is the most widely used measurement in the surface finish, and many times the actual term “surface finish” of a given part refers to its roughness.

 

inspecting standard machining surface finish with a roughness tester

Key Takeaway of Surface Finish Measuring

In the machining process of any given part, you can measure the dimensional tolerances and surface finish requirements with these three characteristics. Your component may call for a Standard Machining Surface Finish, or it may require some added texture and, therefore, additional machining steps to produce the correct lay, waviness, and roughness. You will need to specify the final desired measurements for manufacturing these parts and ensuring continuity from piece to piece.

This measurable information also determines if the surface finish is correct for the material type used. That is where the use of a Surface Finish Chart comes into play.

Surface Finish Charts: What Are They and How Are They Used?

The instrument used to make quick work of surface finish measurements is a measurement stylus that you can drag across the surface and take readings. If you cannot touch the part, for whatever reason, you can use a 3D metrology method.

Without going into extensive algebraic computations and equations, you can refer to this excellent reference manual for a Surface Finish 3D Metrology Tutorial from the US Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This 162-page PDF is the go-to document for surface finish terminology, processes, and charts.

By obtaining the correct surface finish measurements, you can compare your findings with the Surface Finish Charts to see if your part has the desired surface finish or if you need to take additional manufacturing steps to get your component to within spec.

Think of the surface finish chart as a way of giving the part a letter grade, and then compare it to the information on the chart to see how close to the CLA (Center Line Average) you are for the particular material you are using.

high precision grinding machine creating a standard machining surface finish

How To Obtain a Standard Machining Surface Finish and More

Hopefully, you now have an idea about surface finishing and the different degrees of surface finishing, from Standard Machining Surface Finish to Textured Surface Finish and beyond. Learn more about surface finishing technology and address your metal fabrication needs by contacting Elemet Manufacturing. See how your particular component specifications stand up to the latest in surface finishing methodologies.

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Metal Fabrication

Which Metal Fabrication Process Is Right for Your Part?

With total revenues averaging $33 billion per year, it’s safe to say the metal manufacturing industry is massive. So, it’s no wonder there are so many different metal fabrication methods to consider. 

This article will cover a few of them, give a brief overview of the metal fabrication process, and where to best seek these services.

The Bottom Line Upfront

Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitkin Iron Works have united to create Elemet Manufacturing.

Putting their expertise together has allowed them the opportunity to provide the best, up-to-date services and craftmanship possible.

These include:

  • CNC machining,
  • CNC milling,
  • threading,
  • turning,
  • welding,
  • painting,
  • 5-axis waterjet cutting, and more. 

Elemet Manufacturing Inc. (EMI) is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, creating high-quality, accurate, dependable parts. Highly-skilled manufacturing and fabrication employees do this by exceeding industry quality standards. 

EMI cares about what the customer wants and will strive to work with you every step of the way to ensure that you receive the products you need. For more info, contact EMI today.

collage of metal fabrication processes including waterjet cutting, welding, and CNC machining

Types of Metal Fabrication

Determining the right metal fabrication for you hinges on several factors, including the purpose of the product, the geometry of the piece, and the materials used in its crafting. 

Standard metal fabrication projects include:

  • Welding
  • Casting
  • Folding
  • Cutting
  • Forging
  • Punching
  • Machining
  • Extrusion
  • Shearing 
  • Stamping 

The following paragraphs look at a few of these processes so you can get an idea of what is most suitable for your needs.

Welding 

Welding is when you join two or more pieces of metal together through a combination of pressure and heat. This is a popular method of metal fabrication because metal pieces can be of any size or shape. 

There are four main types of welding processes: 

  • MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas): This type of welding is popular in the automotive industry. It can provide a strong weld even for a very thin piece of metal. 
  • SMAW Welding (Shielded Metal Arc Welding) is popular because it requires the simplest equipment and is versatile. 
  • TIG Welding (Tungsten Inert Gas) is a popular choice for pipe welding. It’s suitable for thin materials and is popular in the aviation and aerospace industry. 
  • FCAW (Flux Cored Arc Welding) is the best choice when welding contaminated, rusty or dirty metals.

Casting

Casting is the process of molten metal poured into a die or mold and allowed to cool and harden into the desired shape.

This particular metal fabrication method is ideal for mass-produced parts as the molds are reusable for identical results.

The types of casting include:

  • Die Casting forces liquid metal into a die, and pressure keeps it in place until it hardens. 
  • Permanent Mold casting creates stronger castings than die castings by pouring liquid metal into a mold. The downside is that the finished products can prove challenging to remove. 
  • Semi-permanent mold casting makes a good alternative. These molds are more manageable and cost less to remove as they have expendable cores. 
  • Sand Casting is created by pressing a pattern into a fine mixture of sand. This makes a mold into which you pour liquid metal. This method is the most economical casting form, but it is generally slow. 

punch and die metal fabrication process bending sheet metal

Folding

The folding process involves manipulating metal to bend at an angle. The most common method uses a brake press which creates creases in the metal by pinching it. 

The metal is held between a die and punch and forced to crease by the punch pressure. Folding is also achievable by hammering the metal until it bends to the desired angle or using a folding machine.

This machine has a flat surface on which the material is placed, clamping bars to hold it in place, and a front panel that lifts upwards forces the material to bend. This process is usually used when shaping sheet metal. 

Cutting

Cutting is a popular form of metal fabrication for fashioning metal into smaller sections. Traditional methods involved sawing the metal, while modern techniques include waterjet cutting, laser cutting, and power scissors. 

Cutting tools range from manual power tools to CNC equipment (Computer Numerical Control). CNC equipment can control a range of complex machines such as lathes, grinders, and turning mills. All of which can shape, cut, and create different prototypes and parts. 

Die-cutting is another method. Two examples of die-cutting are rotary die-cutting, which uses a cylindrical die to cut material fed through a press, and flatbed die-cutting. This method is used on thicker metals and uses a die on a press to cut shapes by stamping the die down onto the metal. 

Forging 

Forging is one of the most old-fashioned metal fabrication methods used for centuries, so it’s definitely worth mentioning here. 

Forging requires a compressive force to shape the metal. Hot forging, where you heat the metal to 75 percent of its melting temperature, typically comes to mind with this process. However, cold forging is also possible, where the manufacturing process can occur at room temperature.

gloved hand pushing a green start button of a piece of manufacturing equipment

Are You Ready To Kickstart Your Metal Fabrication Process?

The above was a brief overview of just a few of the methods used for metal fabrication. 

If your business needs waterjet cutting, CNC machining, or other manufacturing services, EMI offers many options and will find the ones that work best with your requirements. Contact us today for more information about Elemet’s metal fabrication process capabilities.

Categories
Metal Fabrication

5 Types of Metal Fabrication

Did you know the metal fabrication equipment market will reach an impressive $92.84 billion by 2025? This growth is because of a rapidly increasing need for advanced infrastructure and growing industries – an industry in which you may already be a part.

How do you keep up with the demand for high-quality products? How do you stay on top of your competitors? First, you need to work with a manufacturer who is the best at what they do.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the different types of metal fabrication and what Elemet Manufacturing can do for you.

Who Is Elemet Manufacturing?

Elemet Manufacturing exists because of the dual efforts of Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitkin Iron Works. With the combined expertise of Aitkin’s over 87 years of farming, logging, and mining experience; and Precision Waterjet’s understanding of complex manufacturing work, there is no better company to serve your custom metal fabrication needs.

Machine shops come and go, but fabrication is eternal. Where there is a manufacturing need to fill, there is a metal manufacturing process to suit.

cad cam drawing of metal components with two of the finished components laying on drawing

Breaking Down the Different Types of Metal Fabrication

It is critical to understand the foundations of any manufacturing process before you decide to work with it. As a company with expertise in the matter, however, we are here to advise you.

At its core, the metal fabrication process is all about turning raw materials into new, ready-to-assemble shapes. Custom metal fabrication procedures, for example, are used to create the panels that make up the frame of cars and other vehicles.

While this seems simple, the processes involved are rather complex and varied. Some methods are better suited to specific tasks, while others can accommodate a variety of processes.

Waterjet Cutting

A water jet cutter is a piece of industrial equipment that can cut a wide range of materials using an extremely high-pressure jet of water.

‘Abrasive jet’ refers to the use of a water-abrasive mixture used to cut hard materials like metal, stone, and glass. We use a pure waterjet for softer materials like wood and rubber.

If you’re looking for precision, the 5-axis waterjet cutting machine can tackle even the most complex of tasks. While a waterjet can cut almost any material, the time to cut a piece is longer than other processes.

sheet metal bending in a facility performing many types of metal fabrication

Metal Stamping and Bending

Stamping is a cold-forming technique that transforms flat metal blanks into a variety of shapes. This method employs a tool and die that, when struck, changes the shape of the metal through sheer pressure.

Punching, bending, and embossing are all examples of stamping in the sheet metal production business. Metal bending or folding is a sophisticated production procedure that involves manipulating a metal surface to a specific angle.

The goal is predominantly to have the metal fold at a 90-degree angle. However, because of the complexity of the process, folding needs to be done in facilities that have specialized, high-tech equipment. Often, connecting two metal panels at specific angles may be more workable with a welding process.

With metal stamping comes a high level of automation, so it’s great for jobs that require quick and precise output. However, a disadvantage to note is that dies can be challenging to change if the design needs to change at any point in production.

Welding

Welding is one of the most common metal fabrication methods in the industry. It is basically the technique of connecting two separate metal components together. You can connect sheets, panels, bars, and any kind of shape using the welding method, as long as constructed out of metal.

You achieve this process through the application of heat along the edge where the two pieces connect. You can accomplish this with a variety of procedures and tools.

Welding is great because welded joints have a high strength load, and you can weld a variety of different materials. When done well, they provide a complete and rigid joint. However, once forged, that joint is permanent.

close-up of vertical CNC milling with coolant streams splashing and metal chips piling up

CNC Machining and Milling

The term CNC stands for computerized numerical control. CNC is a production method in which pre-programmed software controls other industrial tools and machinery to achieve the desired shape. From grinders to mills, a CNC method can successfully control a wide range of machinery.

CNC machining can perform three-dimensional cutting operations with just a few simple commands. Our 4-axis CNC machine is particularly good at producing high-quality products because it works on all four planes of a three-dimensional object.

CNC machining is not necessarily the right choice for small product quantities, as it takes some time to design and program. However, in terms of complexity, adaptability, and automation capacity, you can’t beat it.

Casting

Casting is one of the earliest forms of metal manufacturing and dates all the way back to 3,200 B.C.E. It involves pouring molten metal into a mold and leaving it to solidify again in place. Casting is the appropriate choice for a wide range of intricate shape-making needs as it is such a flexible way of fabricating metal.

Metals like steel, iron, gold, copper, silver, and magnesium are the most popular metals used for the casting process.

Casting is not suited to mass production and, compared to other methods, like forging, it has a low fatigue strength. It is, however, one of the cheapest methods of all the manufacturing types.

How Elemet Can Help You 

Understanding the different types of metal fabrication can feel overwhelming, but you don’t need to be an expert to get the job done.

Let our team of highly trained engineers help you with your next job. With your vision and our know-how, we’ll get you set up and ready to go in no time.

Contact Elemet Manufacturing today, and let’s bring your project to life together.

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Metal Fabrication

5 Tips for Reducing Metal Fabrication Costs in Your Business

Business owners always need to be on the lookout for cost-cutting tricks and strategies that won’t harm the quality of their products or services. With this need in mind, one of the areas in which both excessive costs and simple cost reductions can be most easily found is with the technical manufacturing costs that your company has for its products and infrastructure.

Metal fabrication is a common area of this in many business industries. All sorts of techniques exist for reducing metal fabrication costs if your business is involved with this process on a regular basis.

Here are five tips for considerable cost reductions in your metal fabrication regardless of your industry.

How to Reduce Metal Fabrication Costs in Your Business

1. Locate competent expert advice

A metal fabrication worker using a machine. Hiring an expert in the field helps lower metal fabrication costs.

As a starting step in reducing the costs of your metal fabrication, do your best to find a competent professional or firm that knows their business and can handle metalwork projects as efficiently as possible. Certified experts will be happy to answer all of your questions and do their best to help you smooth out your design needs in a way that meets your needs and tolerances with minimal waste or cost.

Engineers at experienced metal fabrication shops will likely know precisely how to handle certain jobs already from previous work conducted. They can use this past knowledge to suggest simplifications, design savings, and material alternatives to make your metal project cost less than you thought likely.

2. Simplify your designs and production process

Metal components made by casting techniques.

As mentioned above, by talking to metalworking experts, you can gain enormous insights into how your metal project needs might be simplified for additional savings. However, before even doing that, you can simplify your own design as much as possible and later consult on whether it’s feasible to use.

As a general rule, the simpler a metal design is, the cheaper it will be to manufacture. Thus, to cut costs, aim for simplified angled bends that offer a large inside radius compared to the thickness of the material being bent. Aiming for many cuts and small bends with large and thick metal parts will tend to cause difficulties and inaccuracy risks that increase expenses for overall production.

Another very useful simplification tip is to use as few different metal parts as absolutely necessary and to keep part sizes, thicknesses and bends as standardized as possible. The same advice applies to using all accessory components on your metal projects.

3. Choose a one-stop, highly professional metal fabrication shop

Sheet metal bending at a metal fabrication shop. Choosing a shop that offers many services can help lower metal fabrication costs.

When selecting the metalwork professionals you want to handle your project, aim for a company that meets your needs in one facility or production flow. Having to shop out different parts of your metal production to different fabricators will cost you considerably more on extra time, transport expenses, effort, and production costs. It’s much easier to work with one single fabricator.

Additionally, choose a company with enough expertise and experience with previous clients to understand your needs with minimal room for errors or misunderstandings. Even if they don’t charge you for the work of correcting any mistakes they’ve made, the time cost of having to repeat certain metalwork projects because of errors by inexperienced fabricators will result in monetary costs.

Fabricators with notably superb fabrication and design skills are also an excellent choice for saving on the cost of manufacturing your metal project regardless of its size.

4. Choose your metal types and parts sizes carefully

A metal fabrication worker usinga tool to test a piece of sheet metals' gauge. CHanging the gauge of your sheet metal can lower metal fabrication costs.

The types of materials and metals you use for your metal projects will be one of the biggest drivers of their cost. Because of this, always ask yourself: Can you use cheaper metals and parts instead of more exotic or pricey ones in any way that won’t cause you problems? If it’s possible to do so, then go for it.

When considering possible economic alternatives, always keep the following factors in mind. 

  • Whether a smaller thickness of a particular type of metal is better than a larger thickness of another one?
  • Are standard production metals with easy fabrication properties better than some exotic metal that you were initially budgeting for?

Also, try to ensure that the metal fabrication facility of your choice offers mill-direct buying options that let them negotiate for lower prices directly on your behalf. This isn’t always possible for specific projects, but manufacturers with a good relationship with their providers can be extremely useful in reducing your costs.

Finally, standard metal sheet sizes and gauges almost always cost less than custom measurements. As much as possible, avoid having to use what isn’t standard-sized or commonly used. In addition to this, the thicker and harder the metal parts you need, the more costly their milling and cutting will be. Sometimes this is unavoidable but avoid it wherever possible after careful consultation with the metal engineer of your choice about safe alternatives.

5. Choose a well-located, well-equipped fabrication shop

Exterior of Elemet Manufacturing in MN.

By choosing a fabrication shop that’s as closely located as possible to where you are, you’ll be shaving an enormous amount off the costs of shipping your finished projects back home. Ideally, working with a metal shop that’s local to your region or city will save you the most money on transport costs, but this isn’t always the case.

Suppose the local options lack a number of manufacturing options or simply don’t have the right kinds of high-end metalworking equipment for your more complex projects. In that case, it might be cheaper to find remote alternatives.

Shipping your entire finished project home from a single well-equipped one-stop-shop in another city might, in some cases, actually cost you less than jobbing out your work among multiple local fabricators or a mix of local and remote.

Lower Your Metal Fabrication Costs with Elemet Manufacturing

Elemet Manufacturing Inc offers a highly professional one-stop metal fabrication and value-added production facility for all your technical or simple metalworking needs. Contact our experienced engineers and technicians for a precise estimate of metal fabrication costs and production times. We’re fully ISO 9001:2015 certified and can professionally assess your best manufacturing options.

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Metal Fabrication

The Value of One-Stop Metal Fabrication Services

At one point or another, you may have found yourself in need of some expert metal fabrication services. You may be on the lookout for a reputable business to work with professionally, or you may need a prototype produced for personal reasons. No matter your reason, having your project completed by one company rather than moving your project at each stage is the best course of action. 

There are numerous benefits to this one-stop metal fabrication process, all of which we’ll outline below. To learn more about prototyping and metal fabrication, contact the professionals at Elemet Manufacturing today. 

What Do Custom Metal Fabrication and Cutting Services Include?

First, let’s explore what these metal fabrication services entail. As part of the custom metal fabrication process, customers can expect three main steps: laser cutting, metal forming or bending, and surface finishing. Then, if additional services are needed, waterjet cutting, laser cutting, welding, or CNC machining are also offered. 

Laser Cutting Services

Laser cutting is included in one-stop metal fabrication services

Laser cutting is used for metal products and metal materials that aren’t suited to waterjet cutting. Elemet Manufacturing offers several types of this cutting service, depending on what is best for your project. You’ll work with experts to determine if using a CNC flame, Plasma, or CNC machine is best. 

Precision Waterjet Cutting Services 

Precision waterjet cutting making a star pattern in metal.

State-of-the-art water jetting services are a great asset to have when operating a one-stop shop for metal fabrication. Waterjet machines can easily cut through titanium, stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum. By being able to work with this many materials, customers are allowed more design and steel fabrication options. 

CNC Machining and Milling

A CNC lathe is need for one-stop metal fabrication services

If needed, Elemet Manufacturing can also offer further customization. To put it simply, a CNC machine and CNC milling take customization to a whole new level. At Elemet Manufacturing, we are proud to offer both 4-axis and 5-axis machines. These make it possible to produce complex designs that no other machine is capable of doing. These machines can produce 3D shapes, angled features, and curved surfaces, making metal fabrication services truly customizable

Welding Services

W welding MIG welding metal

Welding services are also usually offered for full-service metal fabrication services, and Elemet Manufacturing is no exception. If your project requires welding, you can choose from the following: 

  1. MIG, TIG, and Stick welding
  2. Laser welding
  3. Aluminum welding

In addition to these, Elemet Manufacturing also works with: 

  1. Titanium
  2. Steel
  3. Stainless steel
  4. Galvanized
  5. Copper
  6. Brass
  7. Aluminum

Metal Forming or Bending 

Metal bending at Elemet Mfg

This step is exactly what it sounds like: manipulating metal material into the desired form and shape by using force. This is done with state-of-the-art equipment such as the brake press. 

Surface Finishing 

Lastly, the surfaces of these metal products are “finished” by applying an e-coating or powder coating. 

What are the Benefits of Working With Just One Business? 

Sheet metal ready for metal fabrication services.

When it comes to high-quality metal fabrication services, choosing one reputable company is best for both you and your project. Let’s take a look at the benefits you’ll enjoy by doing so. 

All Work is Done Under One Roof 

For sheet metal fabrication services to be considered full-service, there needs to be both expertise and equipment to meet a wide range of metal fabrication capabilities. These include: 

  • Powder Coating
  • Swaging
  • Tube Bending
  • Punching
  • Machining
  • Welding Services
  • Forming
  • Cutting, which includes: hand sawing, plasma, laser jetting, and water jetting

Faster Production Times 

If you’re operating with a deadline, lead times are very important. A full-service company with custom metal fabrication capabilities won’t need to wait for things like metal parts or design information to be delivered for the process to start. Therefore, lead times are much shorter, and you’ll be able to get the product faster. 

Cost-Effective 

You can’t go wrong with saving money. Custom fabricated metal parts or products can become quite expensive if you take your product to a different vendor for each step. Hiring metal fabrication services that offer the full-service experience are often cheaper than hiring many vendors individually. You also don’t need to worry about any fees associated with transportation from one facility to another. 

Being an Invested Partner 

When just one company provides every step of the manufacturing process, it’s much easier to develop a good working relationship. Working with several vendors can feel overwhelming at times, and jumping from one business to the next doesn’t allow for a solid working relationship to develop. By working with one company through every step of the process, you can be sure that lines of communication are much easier to maintain. With these open lines of communications, professionals you are working with can become more invested in your project. 

End-to-end Manufacturing Production 

High-quality end-to-end manufacturing production is the best way to ensure that quality control and communication are a high priority. Think of this in terms of writing an essay. If a different person writes each paragraph of an essay, it will likely be disjointed and unclear. If one person writes the essay, there can be a clear tone, purpose, and ultimately a better final product. 

If there does happen to be any confusion during the project, it’s easy for one department to consult another to figure things out. If one vendor in New York has a question for another in China, things will undoubtedly take longer to figure out. 

The Ability to Focus on One Prototype or Large Production Runs 

Sometimes, customers will need one custom fabricated prototype. Other times, they will need a large production run to be completed. High-quality, full-service metal fabrication services can do both types of projects. 

One-Stop Metal Fabrication Services Done Right 

CNC maching metal fabrication services

Elemet Manufacturing is dedicated to bringing you precise, high-quality service. A combined force of Precision Waterjet Concepts, founded in 2002, and Aitkin Iron Works, founded in 1935, has integrated these two businesses into one powerhouse company. 

Although they are based in Aitkin, Minnesota, Elemet Manufacturing is able to serve customers nationwide by providing the best one-stop metal fabrication services. By offering welding, painting, 5-axis waterjet cutting, threading, turning, and CNC machining and milling, Elemet Manufacturing provides a truly comprehensive, professional service for anyone looking to complete a project. 

For everything you need when it comes to state-of-the-art, custom fabricated metal fabrication services, hire the experts at Elemet Manufacturing today.

Categories
Metal Fabrication

EMI = Precise Metal Bending

EMI uses a CNC brake press for Metal Bending. This process consists of bending and forming the metal into the desired shape.  In concept, metal bending and forming are simple. However, the actual process requires precision positioning of the tooling and workpiece material, combined with the proper programming of the CNC Press Brake, to achieve the precision bending and forming.

CNC Press Brake Metal Bending Services

CNC press brake

CNC press brake bending is one of the most common sheet metal fabrication operations. Also known as press braking, metalworkers use this method to bend a material into an angular shape.

Press brake metal forming services are used to form a piece of sheet metal along a straight axis into a V, U, or channel shape. The press brake uses specialized molded dies and a punch that helps form the shape of the sheet metal for specific design needs.

Press brake machines rely on high pressure to perform their work. As a result, they can shape most materials, including bronze, copper, aluminum, iron, steel, and composites.

The critical factors influencing the mechanics of bending and forming are the material, sheet thickness, width over which the bend or form occurs, machinery, tooling, and specific metal process.

We can take your custom prototype or design and bring it to life for your specific project and needs. With individual experience averaging over a decade, Elemet Manufacturing’s talented workforce takes pride in maintaining a level of quality second to none. Your products are bent and formed accurately, on time, with minimal distortion and maximum consistency.

The Metal Bending Machine Process

Metal Bending machine punch and die

Hydraulic press brakes work by clamping the workpiece or sheet metal between a matching punch and die. Once the workpiece or sheet metal is positioned underneath the press brake machine punch, the tool setter activates the machine. The press brake machine, using hydraulic pressure, pushes the punch down against the surface of the workpiece into the die, which shapes the workpiece.

Three Types of Metal Bending Services

Man Metal Bending sheet metal

There are three types of bending on a press brake. The relationship of the end tool position to the thickness of the material defines each type. These three types are air bending, bottoming, and coining.

1.    Air Bending

The flexibility and relatively low pressure required by air bending make it a popular choice. In the Air bending process, the metal workpiece does not touch the tooling parts entirely. The workpiece rests on 2 points, and a radiused tipped punch pushes the material into a die with a U or V-shaped channel to create the bend.

Air bending can produce different profiles and products using a single set of top and bottom tools and varying press-stroke depth. The bend’s angle is determined by how far the punch tip penetrates the “V” cavity. The greater the penetration of the punch tip, the greater the rise achieved. The stroke depth must be very accurate to achieve a quality bend.

Correcting the bend angle is simple. If the load is released and the material’s spring back results in a wrong angle, it is simple to adjust by applying some more pressure.

Advantages of air bending

  • Requires less bend force
  • Uses smaller tools than other methods
  • No retooling
  • Angle accuracy is approximately ±0.5 deg

2.    Bottoming

In the bottoming process, the metal workpiece is forced against the punch and the groove width opening in the bottom tool.  However, the two pieces do not make complete contact.

The optimum width of the opening (V) should be 6 to 12 times the sheet metal thickness (t) for sheets 3-12 mm thick. The bend radius should be at least 0.8-2t for sheet steel. Bottoming requires a different toolset for each bend angle, sheet thickness, and material.

Advantages of bottoming

  • greater accuracy
  • less spring back

3.    Coining

In the coining process, the top tool forces the material into the bottom die with high force, causing permanent shaping through the workpiece.

Advantages of Coining

  • Very little spring back
  • Can produce an inside radius as low as 0.4t with a V as high as 5t
  • High precision

Issues from Improper Metal Bending Services

Metal Bending tools

Metal bending and forming require proper positioning of the workpiece, the die, and the punch while precisely determining the bending radius, pressure, and clearance. Errors in positioning or bend calculations can result in poorly formed parts that may not fit well with other parts in the assembly process. Types of problems that can occur include:

  • Broken parts
  • A bending edge that is not straight and an unstable size
  • Cracks at the bending angles
  • A bending surface that is too thin
  • An uneven or bulging surface on the part
  • Misaligned holes in the part

Work with EMI for your Metal Bending Services

Man operating CNC Press Brake

Elemet Manufacturing (EMI) has various CNC Press Brake machines to handle any job, no matter the size. CNC technology allows us to provide press brake metal bending and forming faster, more accurately, and with reliable consistency.  Our machines include:

  • Accupress Mechanical 135-ton Press/Brake (10’)
  • Hydraulic 25-ton press
  • Hamilton 250-ton Press

EMI offers creative manufacturing solutions to our clients and eliminates having to work with several different partners, saving you time and money. In addition to our CNC Metal Bending Services, we provide:

  • CNC milling, turning, threading, and machining
  • 5-axis waterjet cutting
  • Welding
  • Fabricating
  • Assembly
  • Inspection

As part of the Elemet Group, we offer one-stop metal manufacturing, machining, fabricating, and coating solutions. Our other group company services include:

The Benefits of Working with Elemet Manufacturing

  • Competitive pricing
  • Fast production times
  • Reliable accuracy and consistency
  • Can produce one prototype or large production runs
  • All work performed under one roof

When you work with us, you are more than a client; you are a valuable partner. Our team at Elemet Manufacturing is happy to assist you with your project and will help you to determine the correct bending and forming method for your needs. Give us a call.

 

 

Categories
CNC Machining Metal Fabrication

Prototyping With A “Cold” Manufacturing Process

Choosing the right metalworking partner for cold-forming metal can be a critical decision. You rely on them to get a prototype produced. However, if you choose the wrong partner, there can be problems.

For instance, the inherent properties of metal present challenges. Metal tends to change its shape, area, volume, and density in response to a change in temperature. As a result, it may easily deform when being processed into your prototype.

To ensure complete satisfaction, you need to choose a CNC machining services provider with experience in the cold manufacturing process.

Because no heat is added to the material, cold-forming sheet metal allows for high speed, precision, and quality production. 

Elemet Manufacturing Inc. (EMI) has decades of experience. We’re an industry leader in custom, extensive work envelope CNC machining services for prototyping and production runs. 

Count on CNC’s machining processes to meet the highest standards of quality and efficiency for cold forming and prototyping. 

EMI is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company.

What Is The Prototyping Process 

workers examining prototype Bringing a new product to market involves the design, market research, and manufacturing of your product. 

Prototyping is the part of this process where a working model of the product is made and tested. A manufacturer can make a prototype from the same material as the end product. You can use an alternative material for the prototype for testing purposes.

A sheet metal prototype is a model of a metallic product. Your prototype is built according to your design to test your concept or process. In addition, it provides you with a physical sample that can be replicated. 

For your product to be a success, you need to start with an excellent prototype model. 

A Short Overview Of Metal Cold Forming Processes

Cold forming is the process of forging metal below its recrystallization temperature. It is shaped at near room temperature.

The scope cold forming uses is wide and varied. It includes complex shapes such as riveted joints, screw heads, threads, and a vast number of other applications.

Cold-forming techniques are often split into four categories: squeezing, bending, drawing, and shearing. 

The cold-forming process uses the pressure and speed of a mechanical or hydraulic press. The press takes a metal ‘blank’ (a flat piece of metal) and shapes it using a ‘punch’ and ‘die’ set. Basically, the punch is the tool used for shaping, and the ‘die’ is the clamp that holds the metal.

The metal blank will form around the punch as it’s hammered into the die. The blank takes the correct shape without material waste. 

This process is all carried out at room temperature and is known as cold forming or cold forming sheet metal.

Cold forming can be used on a variety of metals, including aluminum, copper, brass, steel, and stainless steel.

cold form process

Advantages Of Cold Forming Process For Prototyping 

The cold-forming process has several advantages, including higher production speed, minimal material waste, and a more robust end product.

High-Speed Production

Because high temperatures are not used on the metal material, cold-forming allows for high-speed production, around 100 parts per minute. In addition, the cold forming process eliminates the need for several additional machining operations. This reduces the time needed to complete the manufacturing process.

Little Material Waste

The high percentage of material utilization in cold-forming means that material waste is significantly reduced, if not eliminated.

Traditional metal manufacturing processes, due to offcuts, etc., can generate significant waste. For example, cutting, milling, and grinding can result in 80% or more of the original material being converted to waste.

In stark contrast, cold forming uses 100% of the original material.

Cold forming brings benefits that are both environmental and financial. There are considerable cost reductions that the process of cold-forming metal can achieve.

Stronger End Product

All the original material is used. The metal is stretched beyond its yield strength but with no adverse effect on its tensile strength. 

Because there is a restructuring of the material grain as the part is formed, the result is improved tensile strength. 

The metal becomes more rigid and stronger, much like a sawn piece of timber becomes stronger along its length.

cold forming threads

Disadvantages Of Using A Cold Forming Process

There are some disadvantages of cold forming sheet metal, including:- 

  • A more limited variety of metals for which the process is effective 
  • A lesser scope of shapes and forms that can be achieved 
  • Higher setup costs 
  • Greater manufacturer experience is required to be successful

Limited Metal Types

The main disadvantage of cold-forming sheet metal is that the process cannot be used for every type of metal. The reality is that some metals are more likely to crack. For instance, certain steel types with a .5% or above carbon content cannot successfully withstand the process. 

Limited Shapes And Forms

Another disadvantage is that cold forging can only create specific shapes. Those shapes are usually more basic and mass-produced. If you’re looking for a custom metal piece, a different process will probably work better for your desired outcome.

Higher Setup Costs

High production quantities are required to justify the high setup costs of cold-forming sheet metal. Quantities of 25,000 to 100,000 per year are needed.

Greater Experience Required

Compared to hot forming, the loads required to deform material are high and material deformability is low. A team with a  high degree of manufacturing experience is needed to achieve complex geometries.

What conclusion do you come to after this consideration of cold-forming and prototyping?

You can likely see the many advantages of cold-forming your prototype and have learned some potential pitfalls. Indeed, choosing the right metalworking partner for cold-forming metal can be a crucial decision. That’s particularly true if you rely on them to get a prototype produced.

For peace of mind, trust the expert team at Elemet Manufacturing to care for your cold forming and prototyping needs. Contact us today!

 

Categories
CNC Machining Metal Fabrication

Metal Turning 101

Metal turning and spinning date back thousands of years. The first pictorial evidence that archaeologists uncovered in the tomb of the fourth-century Egyptian pharaoh Petosiris. The picture features an illustration of two men operating an ancient lathe. 

Technicians can do metal turning by hand, but most shops have incorporated mechanized lathes into their operations. Today, we’re going to look at an introduction to metal turning. We’ll cover questions like: What is metal turning? What metals can be turned? What can be formed through the process of metal turning? And more.

At Elemet Manufacturing, Inc., our experienced machinists and drafting technicians carefully match our technology with your design needs from beginning to end. You can rely on our metal turning processes to meet the highest-quality and most efficient standards. Contact us today!

metal turning machine What Is Metal Turning?

Turning is the most basic machining process. It is also the most common lathe machining operation

During the metal turning process, a cutting tool subtracts metal pieces from a rotating workpiece’s outer diameter. The main objective of metal turning is to reduce the workpiece to the desired dimensions. 

Turning can be on the external surface of the part or internally, also called boring. The material used in this production is generally a workpiece generated by other processes, such as casting, forging, extrusion, or drawing.

Metal turning is a form of machining. It is a material removal process used to create rotational parts by cutting unwanted material. 

The metal turning process requires a turning machine or lathe, a workpiece, a fixture, and a cutting tool. The workpiece is a piece of pre-shaped metal secured to the fixture. The fixture is attached to the turning machine and rotated at high speeds. 

The cutter is typically a single-point cutting tool connected to the device. However, some operations use multi-point tools. The chosen cutting tool feeds into the rotating workpiece and cuts away material in small chips to create the desired shape.

Turning produces rotational, typically axis-symmetric parts with many features, such as holes, grooves, threads, tapers, various diameter steps, and even contoured surfaces. Parts that are fabricated entirely through turning often include limited-run components, perhaps for prototypes. 

Metal turning is also commonly used as a secondary process to add or refine features on manufactured parts using a different approach. Due to the surface finishes and high tolerances that metal turning offers, it is ideal for adding precision rotational features to an element whose basic shape has already formed.

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at different types of metal turning and some complementary processes:

metal turning machine

Boring

Boring is the metalworking process of enlarging a hole already drilled (or cast) using a single-point cutting tool (or a boring head containing several such tools). Boring is commonly used to achieve greater accuracy of a hole’s diameter and can be used to cut a tapered hole. Boring is the internal-diameter counterpart to turning, which cuts external diameters. 

Chamfer Turning

Similar to step turning, chamfer turning creates an angled transition of a square edge between surfaces with different turned diameters.

Contour Turning

In a contour turning operation, the cutting tool axially follows the path using predefined geometry. Multiple passes of a contouring tool are necessary to create the desired shapes in the finished product. 

Drilling

Drilling is the metalworking process of removing material from the inside of a workpiece. This process uses standard drill bits held stationary in the tool turret of the lathe. Separately available drilling machines can do the procedure.

Facing

Facing in the context of metal turning work involves moving the chosen cutting tool at right angles to the workpiece’s rotation axis. Facing is performed by the operation of the cross-slide. The first operation is often performed in the workpiece’s production and frequently the last – hence the phrase “ending up.”

Grooving

In metalworking, grooving is similar to parting, but grooves are cut to a specific depth instead of severing the part entirely from the stock. Machinists can perform grooving on internal and external surfaces and the part’s face (also known as face grooving or trepanning).

Hard Turning

Hard turning consists of metal turning for materials with a Rockwell C hardness more significant than 45. It is typically performed after the workpiece has been heat-treated. The hard turning process tends to replace more traditional grinding operations. 

Hard turning is appropriate for parts requiring a roundness accuracy of 0.5-12 micrometers or surface roughness of Rz 0.8–7.0 micrometers. Hard turning applications include gears, injection pump components, and hydraulic components, among other applications. 

Knurling

Knurling is cutting a serrated pattern onto the surface of a part to use as a handgrip using a specific purpose knurling tool.

Parting

The parting process, also called parting off or cutoff, creates deep grooves that remove a completed or partially completed component from its parent stock.

Polygonal Turning

Polygonal turning is a turning process in which non-circular forms are machined without interrupting the raw material’s rotation. 

Reaming

Reaming is a sizing operation that removes a small amount of metal from a hole already drilled. Reaming is used for making internal holes of extremely accurate diameters. For example, a 6mm hole is made by drilling with a 5.98 mm drill bit and then reamed to precise dimensions. 

Spherical Turning

Spherical turning produces a ball shape on the workpiece.

Step Turning

The process of step turning creates two surfaces with an abrupt change in diameters between them. The finished product resembles a step.

Tapered Turning

Tapered turning produces a conical surface by gradual reduction or increase in diameter from a cylindrical workpiece. This tapering operation has a wide range of use in the construction of machines. 

Almost all machine spindles have taper holes that receive taper shank of various tools and work holding devices. Tapered turning produces a ramp transition between the two surfaces of the workpiece with different diameters. The result is due to the angled motion between the workpiece and a cutting tool.

Threading

Both standard and non-standard screw threads can be turned on a lathe using an appropriate cutting tool. Either externally or within a bore, generally referred to as single-point threading.

What Metals Can Machinists Turn?

Now that we’ve covered “what is metal turning,” let’s turn to what Machinists can turn materials, and they utilize several different metals in the metal turning process:

  • Ferrous metals, such as iron, steel, or cast iron
  • Aluminum
  • Brass and other copper alloys
  • Hi-temp nickel alloys
  • Titanium
  • Other non-ferrous metals

metal turning machine

Why Work With A Metal Turning Shop?

There’s no easy way to describe the benefits of high-quality, precision machining and its importance in today’s manufacturing economy. Hopefully, today, we’ve answered the primary question, “what is metal turning”? 

At Elemet Manufacturing, Inc., our experienced machinists and drafting technicians carefully match our technology with your design needs from beginning to end. You can rely on our metal turning processes to meet the highest-quality and most efficient standards. Contact us today!

 

Categories
Metal Fabrication

An Introduction To Metal Fabrication

Projects produced by metal fabrication surround us in our everyday lives, from simple things like grills or hand railings to heavy equipment and large machinery. Cutlery, hand tools, nuts and bolts, springs, wires, screws, and many architectural products are prime examples.

Manufacturers use metal fabrication to shape iron, steel, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, brass, bronze, or any other workable metal. The only requirement is that the chosen metal needs to have the ability to change its configuration, shape, or thickness.

Elemet Manufacturing, Inc. (EMI) can handle production runs ranging from one prototype through large amounts. Our metal fabrication process consists of bending, cutting, and assembling building structures according to your specifications as an end-to-end fabrication provider. EMI works on your project from start to finish.

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Defining Metal Fabrication

Metal fabrication is a manufacturing process that forms the metal into finished parts or end-products.

We convert metals into many different structures through the use of metal fabrication techniques. The techniques in the metal fabrication process can vary but normally include:

  • cutting,
  • welding,
  • burning,
  • machining,
  • forming,
  • and assembling into the required end-product.

Many metal fabricators use sheet metal for this type of manufacturing. The sheet metal can be up to 0.25 inches thick.

Fabricators convert this sheet metal into tools or other products. They cut, fold, or shape metal to create finished pieces.

Manufacturers use metal fabrication to mass-produce. But it can also be used for different-sized runs of customized fabricated metal pieces. These projects typically include the customized design and fabrication of metal parts to fit a business’s needs.

For metal fabrication, both human labor and robotic automation are necessary. Shops specializing in this type of metalwork are called fabrication shops or “fab shops.”

Most metal fabrication is carried out in these shops by experts. These experts are well-versed in welding, ironwork, blacksmithy, and other complementary professions. You will also find people who are well-versed in cutting or punching, press machine operators, lathe operators, welders, assemblers, solderers, and brazers.

Metal fabricators have learned to constantly change production lines as customer needs ask for various products that suit their specific business requirements.

All The Things That Make Up Metal Fabrication

Fabricated metal pieces are commonplace. However, few lay people understand how the fabrication process works. We will explain.

Many people only think of welding when they hear the term “metal fabrication.” But welding is only one process that metal fabricators use. Welding involves joining two metal pieces together with molten metal. Welding techniques are constantly evolving.

Most industrial metal fabrication will involve cutting. Originally, metal fabricators used saws for this process. Modern fabrication shops, however, use waterjets, plasma, and laser cutting methods. The choice will depend both on the complexity of the cutting and the cost of the cutting.

Any parts that need to be bent will need the folding process. Most fabrication shops use brake presses that are either manually, hydraulically or motor-driven. Some forms and shapes are mass-produced with metal dies.

The machining process involves removing metal from raw metal to form specific shapes. Manufacturers use drills, lathes, and other cutting machines for this purpose.

Another process often used in metal fabrication before assembly or metal forming is punching. Dies are extensively used in punching.

Stamping is a process very similar to punching. However, it may not require the cutting of the metal, whereas punching does.

Shearing is a process that requires cutting the metal down to the required size. The process is often carried out on sheet metal.

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Walking Through The Steps Of Metal Fabrication

Though most metal fabrication projects indeed focus on cutting and shaping metal, several sub-processes are typically involved in a successful manufacturing project.

The entire metal fabrication process starts with a design and ends with a finished and functional part.

Here’s a short breakdown of the three main steps in a typical fabrication project:

First, designing the project. 

The first (and likely most important) step is the design of the part/end-product. Some businesses come to us with a completed design. But some come to us with a prototype. In either case, we work with our customers to refine and test the design before starting a large run.

Many metal fabricators use computer-aided design programs (CAD) during the manufacturing process. Using CAD programs, we can develop a 3D prototype of an object before beginning work with the metal.

This phase helps to ensure that the end-product will function as required.

We’ll also work with our customers during this initial design process to clarify which types of metal to use and any required finishing process.

Second, building the part.

The second step encompasses the actual building process. During this building phase, a metal fabricator cuts and shapes each of the design phase components.

There’s a wide range of tools and expertise used in these projects. We often employ CNC (computer numerical controls) tools to ensure that each piece is cut exactly to the design specifications. These CNC tools extract a computer program of the exact commands and specifications used to create a piece.

Third, assembling & finishing the project.

The last step in metal fabrication is finishing and assembling the pieces into the final end-product. This finishing step strengthens the product and ensures that it’s ready for its intended use.

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The Benefits Of Using A Metal Fabrication Shop

The main benefit of using a metal fabrication shop is the centralization of these metal fabrication processes, which often perform in parallel via multiple vendors.

A one-stop metal fabrication shop helps contractors limit their need to work with multiple vendors to complete complicated projects.

EMI can handle production runs ranging from one prototype through large amounts. Our metal fabrication process consists of bending, cutting, and assembling building structures according to your specifications as an end-to-end fabrication provider. EMI works on your project from start to finish.