Custom metal fabrication begins with an original design. Your custom metal fabrication design will ultimately dictate how your product is made and how it turns out. When you optimize your custom metal fabrication design, you can take advantage of shorter lead times, cost savings, increased durability, and many other benefits. Here are five things to remember when optimizing your custom metal fabrication design.
1. Design Clearly
With more specificity in your design, your fabrication manager will better understand what you need to reduce errors when your project moves from design to fabrication. The first thing to specify will be your measurements and dimensions. Double-check to be sure these are accurate.
Design clearly with the following requirements:
- Surface flatness
- Depths of any holes and locations
- Radius of corners
- Height, width, length
- Material thickness
2. Simplify the Design & Edit
With the essential elements of your drawings marked, simplifying your custom metal fabrication design is the best way to optimize it. Of course, you may have already pared your design down to the essentials. But if you still need to try an editing step, take a closer look before sending your designs to your fabrication manager.
Review elements that don’t add to the function of your design. Are these aesthetic elements essential? Are any redundant? For example, can your component fit securely and maintain its use-case using one screw versus two screws. As a result, you can reduce the cost of your piece. You can also modify exterior elements that might be over-detailed, such as replacing a “curved corner” (more complex) with a “right angle” to simplify the stamping or cutting process.
3. Work with Your Fabrication Manager
Knowing how to simplify and optimize designs can be challenging if you are still determining the ideal fabrication process. There are many different methods used in metal fabrication, which include:
- Cutting the metal;
- Casting, and several more.
In addition, several approaches and techniques exist for each metal fabrication process. As a result, you can substantially simplify the process by making minor design changes. However, knowing exactly how to do this can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with these fabrication processes.
Once you’ve specified the design’s dimensions and other essential elements and reviewed the necessary and decorative details, collaborate with your fabricator to streamline the fabrication process. The most experienced fabricators can move your project through efficient processes by making minor tweaks to your simplified design.
4. Assess the Options for Metal
Metal alloys vary greatly and are made to fill other needs to resist many types of corrosion, heat, or force. Some applications require resilient metals that can withstand temperature extremes, intense pressure, or corrosive substances. Unfortunately, these metals are also more expensive and challenging to use. However, several other applications are not exposed to extreme conditions and as functional with more common alloys.
Selecting a suitable metal alloy can reduce costs dramatically and simplify the fabrication process. To choose the best-performing metal alloy, it’s essential to understand the component or product’s function and exposed forces. This might include any of the following:
- Force involves many factors, including continuous bending, heavy impacts, abrasion, heavyweight, and much more.
- Temperature includes heat, cold, and dramatic swings between these extremes.
- Corrosive materials might include common elements like air and water or unique elements like acids.
- Lifetime: the length your component or product will last and impact the materials as much as the standard use conditions.
5. Consider Your Finishing Options
Materials are one of many ways to ensure your fabrication project looks and functions as intended. The right finishing option, such as metal plating, powder coating, anodizing, galvanizing, etc., can help your project extend its lifetime and withstand the above mentioned factors such as temperature and corrosion. These finishing options can also help your project or component look to your preference with the right textures, colors, or shine.
Optimizing custom metal fabrication designs starts with better collaboration among all the stakeholders in the process. Designers, Engineers, Fabricators, and Field Installers can use their expertise and knowledge to optimize the delivery of top-quality, durable, and cost-effective products that make customers sing their praise.