Metal Processing Technologies for Fabricators!

Metal processing technologies

Innovation is essential for many companies in order to remain competitive. It is no different for metal companies; in fact: the importance of continuous innovation and metal processing technologies is growing. The causes are, among other things, the changes in the sales markets.

For example, customers increasingly need smaller batch sizes of end products. Customers also expect more in terms of cooperation in product development. In addition, technological developments in other sectors offer new opportunities for metal companies. 

What are CNC Milling services?

CNC machining services refer to a process method that uses digital devices and information to control parts and the movement of milling cutters to process parts on a CNC machine. 

CNC milling services and rapid prototyping with CNC machining have made the automation of small to medium batch processing a feasible reality. It has several advantages, such as high productivity, stable processing accuracy, and low product cost. 

CNC Milling advantages for Fabricators

CNC machines leave Fewer requirements for operators. A CNC worker who does not need programming has a short training time (that is, a CNC lathe worker needs only seven to ten days to be able to write simple machining programs).

In addition, the parts processed by fabricators on CNC machine tools have higher precision than those processed using conventional lathe machines, which saves valuable working-shift time. Moreover, such machines also reduce labor intensity. CNC workers are usually excluded from processing during the work cycle, which is labor-saving.

Is Waterjet Cutting better than Laser Cutters?

Water cutting used to be an odd one out for metalworking machines. However, advancements in waterjet cutting accuracy have significantly increased with time. On the other hand, autogenous,plasma, and lasers were the machines and techniques for producing more complex products, each with its pros and cons.

A common factor with these techniques is that heat is introduced into the material, which may cause changes in the composition and shape of the material. And in the past, for example, it was impossible to cut plastic (laser cutting machines are now available to do this).

The thickness of the material to be cut was also a determining factor; that is still the case in some cases. If the material was thicker than 20-25 mm, you quickly had to switch to autogenous or plasma. The disadvantage of these cutting techniques is that they are not as accurate as laser cutting.

With Waterjet cutting, you have a good alternative: accurate, no heat input, and thick materials can also be cut. 

Waterjet Cutting advantages for Fabricators

Multi-layer materials, such as clad metal for shipbuilding (film) and insulating sandwich panels for construction, are highly suitable for processing on the Waterjet. Even parts where the material properties are not allowed to change, for example, in duplex and super duplex stainless steel, can be very well brought into the desired shape by water cutting.

As mentioned earlier, two notable and high-quality stainless-steel qualities are often used in the petrochemical and offshore industry.

Water cutting of steel, stainless steel, and aluminum has the advantage that holes/slots with less than 0.8x plate thickness can be cut. Laser cutting does not give good results in this case. However, depending on the thickness, you may have to deal with limitations.

Exact possibilities should therefore always be looked at per product. Another advantage of waterjet cutting is that no heat is introduced when pre-cutting tapped holes. As a result, the material structure does not change, which in turn means that tools wear less quickly. And this, in the long run, means fewer costs.

Optimizing workflows for metal processing companies

Which innovative technologies currently play a role in the metal industry? For metalworking companies, there are many opportunities in the field of process optimization. Metal companies can innovate by paying even more attention to the following:

  • Lowering costs and increasing productivity;
  • Strengthening the position in the chain;
  • Exploit the possibilities of automation;
  • The application of new technology;
  • Increasing flexibility;

Automation production processes

One of the most critical trends in the metal industry is the so-called ‘smart industry.’ This means that the entire production process is organized in a more innovative way. This is done through technological innovations, the internet, and automation.

By cleverly combining technologies and further integrating them with ICT, new possibilities arise in the field of product design, manufacturing and distribution. With ‘smart industry,’ for example, small volumes, more significant product variations, and more complex products can also be realized for an attractive price.

In addition, small numbers of metal products can now also be printed utilizing 3D printers. An example of this is the printing of some parts for aircraft.

Conclusion: An improvement in the utilization rate of production facilities.

For companies in the metal sector, for example, producing production robots, such as welding and cutting robots, is a very profitable technological innovation. Another example of metal processing technologies is increasing the productivity of tools, or metal mesh manufacturing or forging. These also provide precision reamers and specialist cutting tools that optimize machining.

Metal processing technologies article and permission to publish here provided by Peter Yordanov. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on June 24, 2022.