Designing for Manufacturability (DFM) in Metal Fabrication

Successful metal fabrication job shops know that in order to maximize production time, it has to start with the design.  The best way to do that is by designing parts for the way it is going to be fabricated or by DFM.  This starts with a cooperative effort between the customer, the manufacturing engineer at the job shop and the operations team.  When they all 3 work together, the outcome should be developing the most cost-effective production design. 

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Metal Fabrication Case Study – Automotive Aftermarket Metal Brackets

Metal Fabrication Case Study

Customer:  Automotive Aftermarket

Product:  1/4 Plate Metal Bracket

Type of Fabrication:  Laser Cutting, Press Brake Metal Forming, Powder Coating

Problem:  Taking a new design from the PPAP to production

Noble Industries solution:

Noble Industries has an automotive aftermarket customer that will periodically change the design of one of their metal brackets based on the vehicle design changes.  As an ISO 9001:2008 metal fabricator, when a design change is made, we will provide the customer with test metal parts and their PPAP documentation.  After the customer tests the brackets they will place an initial supply of the new custom metal bracket.  For this particular metal bracket we made 3 test brackets.

Once the customer completed their testing they placed an initial production order of 750.  This specific part is made out of HRPO (Hot Rolled Pickled & Oiled) .25 X 60 X 120 sheet metal.  This material is also known as HRPO ¼ plate material.   Purchasing order sheet metal in the size of 60 inches by 120 inches because that is the sheet size for our Mazak Lasers.  To produce these parts, we have estimated that laser cutting will be performed at 35 parts an hour with 1 set up.  Our Virtek will inspect the first article part before the remaining 749 are laser cut.  After the parts are laser cut, the job folder and flat parts will go to the Press Brake area for metal forming.

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What does Custom Metal Fabrication mean?

The word “custom” can mean a conventional way of doing things or a common standard or practice.  For custom metal fabrication it means almost the opposite.  Custom metal fabrication means that someone wants to make something unique or specific to their needs.  It may mean they want to make 1 piece or a very small number of metal parts.  Custom metal fabrication can also mean large productions or medium size production run of between 100 – 2500 parts at a time. 

 Whatever your specific meaning, Noble Industries is the company that can provide all your custom metal fabrication needs!  If it is a project where you need to cut metal into specific sizes we can do that through the use of saws, lasers & punches.  If you need tubular parts, we can saw cut one or 1,000 at a time with the use of traditional saws or our CNC Dutch saw which allows us to saw cut bundles of tube or pipe quickly along with deburring the ends.  If you need sheet metal parts cut with a countersunk hole our 6 axis laser cutting equipment can handle that easily.  If you have a need for metal wire straightened and cut to length, we can do that as well.  Whatever custom metal cutting means to you, we can handle it.  We commonly cut aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel.  Our equipment includes Mazak Lasers, Amada Punch Presses, Salvagnini Panel Punching, CNC Shearing, Piranha Iron Worker, Dutch Saw, Band Saws, Cold Cut Miter Saws, Wire Straightening and Cut off equipment and much more. 

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Metal Fabrication from a shipping department perspective

Handling multiple metal fabrication projects at one time can be a challenge to many metal fabrication companies but at Noble Industries it is something we do well every day.  As I watched trucks come and go from our facility this week, I decided to look past HRPO .25 X 60 X 120 sheets, or 7 gauge A36 material, tube being cut and formed or parts just sent into our facility for powder coating and look at what shipped out of the building.  I didn’t want to look at Purchase Orders, Production Schedules, Quotes or Job specific information.  I was interested in parts shipped to what industries and how much each shipment weighed.   It was surprising to see the diversity and the locations we shipped to in just a 3 day time period.   To give you some insight, here are just a few of the items that were shipped from our facility in Noblesville, Indiana on October 29 – 31, 2012 and the weight of metal parts fabricated in that 3 day time frame.

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Metal Cutting with Laser Equipment

There are many methods available today for metal cutting.  In ancient times metal cutting could only be accomplished by manual methods where a machined tool normally with pressure and teeth would cut through the metal.  Today metal cutting can be performed without the equipment touching the metal.  Laser cutting has become one of the most efficient ways of cutting metal without contact with the material.  Lasers can cut stainless steel, aluminum, carbon steel and many other materials.

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