Why Tube Fabrication and Tube Manufacturing is Getting Much Easier
Tube Fabrication has taken giant leaps in recent years with the advent of dedicated tube laser fabrication machines.
Fabricators, in the last few years, have seen significant advancement in this technology. In the past, many flat sheet lasers had add-on components that could cut tube but the setup times were significant and the capacity was very limited.
Today, tube laser technology allows for tube fabrication, tube cutting and tube manufacturing that is incredibly fast and extremely versatile.
Most tube lasers will handle 24’ lengths of material to load and off load in the machine. In addition, loading tables are setup to handle large bundles of tube and can often run lights out. Laser cutting through large bundles of tube can be done in hours.
Very often, 24’ lengths will be cut down into several smaller pieces (for example 7 EA parts that might be just over 3’ long). Hundreds of these parts can be processed in hours and cut with laser-quality-precision.
In addition, tube fabrication often requires 5-axis cutting which is impossible on flat laser machines with tube laser attachments.
5-Axis cutting generally means that intricate cutting can be accomplished on round, square, rectangular or angular shapes. It also means the tube can be cut with beveled cut lines or cut lines that are not perpendicular to the surface of the material.
Tube manufacturing that used to require machining is often, depending on tolerances, very manufacturable on a tube laser as well. Cutting slots or multiple-sized holes is extremely easy and very accurate. In most cases, Tube Laser fabrication has no issues holding .010 tolerances.
People in the tube processing, tube manufacturing and tube supplying business should learn all they can about tube laser technology.
In many cases, the processing time can be 30-50% less which equates to significant savings on manufactured parts.
Learning what tube lasers can do is also very important.
Saw cutting is likely a better option than tube laser cutting in only one circumstance—if the cuts are straight (or square) and the tolerances are loose. Any structural item that requires miter cuts, angle cuts, coped cuts, holes, slots or high accuracy will be much faster and cost effective on a dedicated tube laser.
Again, any person involved with tube manufacturing, tube processing or tube fabrication should take the time to investigate tube laser technology.
AMF’s tube laser will handle up to 25’-6” lengths of material and 8.66” diameter or 6”x6” square size. It will cut steel up to .75” thick and stainless steel up to .375” thick.
Running two shifts, we generally have excellent capacity and can often turn jobs in 3-5 days.
Give us a call and see what AMF’s Tube Laser can do for you!
What is a Tube Laser?
Tube lasers are starting to come online now with regularity.
These are very big, very complex and very expensive machines—hence they have not hit the manufacturing market with the same force tradition flat sheet lasers did in the past.
So, what is a tube laser?
Tube Lasers are setup to laser cut light structural shapes which would include the following:
Custom Shaped Extrusions
Tube Lasers vary in size but the machines, generally, are meant to handle typical 20-24’ lengths of these before mentioned shapes and sizes.
In addition, most machines are designed with auto-loaders or semi-auto-loaders which allow the machine to move bundles of material through the laser cutting process extremely fast.
Typical tube lasers will cut tube from 1” OD up to about 8” OD. Larger tube lasers can cut materials up to 14” OD.
The complexity of the machine is hard to describe in writing but try to imagine these big machines grabbing a piece of tube, moving the tube laterally (left to right), spinning the tube rotationally (around and around) and also cutting the tube at multiple angles.
Even more, imagine the rigorous programming that is involved when trying to cut round, verses square, verse angle, verses channel shapes.
Most would consider these tube lasers as 5-Axis laser cutting machines—watch them work and you will see that there is a bunch going on simultaneously.
Needless to say with all this complexity the end result is amazing to watch.
Any potential customer that is using traditional methods of saw cutting, coping, drilling, milling or iron-working, should really consider what a tube laser might do to help them gain efficiency.
AMF’s rule of thumb is that if any piece of light structural material requires two of the above processes, like saw cutting and saw mitering, or saw cutting and drilling, then there is way more efficiency to be gained with the tube laser.
Even further, if a person has a job that required anything beside just a straight saw cut, they should be using a tube laser. That includes miter-cuts, holes, slots, taps or even high precision straight cuts—the tube laser will easily out pace traditional methods.
Of course, these machines are expensive and take up a very large foot print so not everyone is willing to make that investment. AMF works with many fab shops that do not have the space or capital necessary to purchase their own machine.
Typical lead times for AMF’s tube laser are 3-5 days—these machines crank through material at an amazingly fast pace!
Many people are tentative to outsource labor and materials from their own shops—this reluctance stems from dozens of reasons: fear of losing work, fear of losing control of the job, fear of long lead times, fear of change.
The reality is most of these fears are unfounded. AMF is a great partner and will work tirelessly to make sure all of our customers get what they need to be successful.
We have the Tube Laser Challenge which you can find at https://www.allmetalsfab.com/tube-laser/ where we offer our customers 20% off of their first order.
Most are shocked by quick lead times, less than a week, and great prices which will save you money.
In the end, this tube laser technology will transform the industry just like the flat laser did in the nineties.
What is a tube laser—the best cutting technology on the market for tube, channel, angle and other structural elements.
Find out more by contacting us and don’t forget to ask for your 20% discount on your first order!
AMF Makes Top Level Guard Rail Look Easy!
All Metals Fabrication is the undisputed Utah & Intermountain West leader in high-end commercial building guard rail.
We specialize in commercial work that includes:
Stainless Steel Rail
Custom Architectural Designer Rail
We set ourselves apart from the competition in several ways. A few key items are as follows:
AMF in-house 60’ Foot Tube Laser
AMF is the only railing shop in five regional states that utilizes a full time, in house and under-one-roof, tube laser.
This machine, combined with our flat sheet laser, creates unparalleled accuracy, speed and service.
Translation, materials crank through our shop faster and better.
Compared to traditional plasma cutting or saw cutting methods, laser cutting technology, particularly tube laser technology, is vastly superior, which means not only faster production but better quality.
Better quality means straighter railing runs, better lines, tighter tolerances and much better quality of welds (no more globs of weld with spatter everywhere).
AMF boasts a weld team with just over 20 full time completely certified and tested TIG wilders. TIG welding is known as an artistic-like skill and important for both stainless steel and aluminum railing systems.
Most shops might employ a man or two that can do this high-end welding—AMF has a couple of dozen which enables us to do multiple large jobs simultaneously.
This large group of skilled craftsmen have welded and installed railing in the most high-end of commercial buildings: Museums, Sporting Arenas, Hospitals, Universities, High Schools, etc.
High-end railing is very often a centerpiece of architectural design which is VERY different than scabbing up back-end staircases welded to structural stringers.
Railing quality should include straight lines, artistic welds and craftsmanship that states this work was not scabbed together. Craftsmanship is becoming a lost art in the construction world as the pace has quickened and the labor cheapened.
There are still elements of construction that require craftsmanship and we believe railing is one of them. Get the job done right and enjoy a visual treat that will last as long as the building.
Take a minute to check out some of our work on display—we sell and fabricate world class high end railing and craftsmanship simultaneously and look forward to hearing from you.
Aircraft Maintenance Platforms the Easy Way
AMF’s Tube Laser has given the company an incredible tool to fabricate high-end maintenance platforms for the customers like the US Airforce.
These platforms, without disclosing too much information, were designed to assemble with light gauge tubing so that they can easily roll in and away from the aircraft. Even more, the custom-shaped platforms have been designed and fabricated so that they can fit, jigsaw-puzzle-like, into tight-quartered & specific spaces next to the Airforce’s amazing jets.
These tight-fitting platform designs allow the maintenance teams safe and speedy access into areas of the plane that were, before, hard to reach. The improved ergonomics also improve the maintenance productivity and safety significantly.
The tube-skeleton platforms require very precise hole and slot alignment that would have required custom milling with multiple setups. Now, using AMF’s tube laser, we can do that effortlessly with one setup.
The Tube Lasers, on this job, cuts small and long slots perfectly and easily. In addition, slots and holes can be cut with one setup and, as the video showcase, even tapped holes are no problem—again, all with one setup.
Dozens and dozens of individual tube assemblies on these platforms can now be done in a few short hours—which, using the old process of saw-cutting and milling, would have taken four or five times that long.
Even better, once the tube materials are cut, they fit precisely together making the fit-up and welding 30-40% faster.
AMF has delivered many of these types of platforms with fantastic success.
AMF is doing similar work for companies all over the country.
Tube assemblies used to fabricate test stands, maintenance platforms, custom material racks, and custom fixtures are all fabricated assemblies that AMF loves to manufacture!
Call us and see what it can do for you!
Stainless Steel Craftsmanship, in the Construction Industry, is not for the Faint of Heart
Please consider the type of quality you are seeking when determining who will be doing your work.
Weld quality is a huge issue—both in appearance but also functionality (meaning will the weld actually hold together?)
Most architectural items like railing or decorative features look best with TIG welds. TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas welding. This type of welding allows for a very clean, almost decorative, weld bead but can be very challenging to do, particularly out in the field. Tungsten is the weld rod that gets ‘melted’ into the product as shown in the picture below.
Traditional weld shops are often very ill equipped to handle this type of welding, which brings up another key issue and that is capacity. Qualified TIG welders are hard to find…AMF, because of our niche in stainless steel and aluminum work, boasts approximately 20 full-time certified TIG welders. Our stainless-steel work is seen on railing, decorative hoods, signs, counter-tops, wall wraps, benches, steeples, sun shades, etc., etc.
Stainless Contamination is also a huge issue. Typical shops are notorious for contaminating stainless steel with carbon steel filings, meaning that rust will eventually appear on the surface of expensive, supposedly rust-free, material.
How does this happen? Two very common ways are as follows:
1) Stainless materials are worked-on with tools that are normally used for steel-only fabrication. This might happen when the parts are cut, formed, ground or even transported (something as simple as steel forklift tines contaminate stainless steel).
2) Stainless materials are stored around other carbon steel parts—filings, grindings and shavings find their way (like dust) on to the stainless material and then rest on the stainless waiting for water or atmospheric conditions to start the rusting process.
Ultimately, high quality stainless steel craftsmanship is a real thing—not all stainless steel parts are created equal.
It is important to remember that Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel are NOT FRIENDS!
Weld quality, capacity, and contamination are three key items to consider when determining who does your work. All three can be very critical to making your job successful. Contact us with questions and see what we can do to make your stainless steel work look and function amazingly well.
Project Roller Coaster
Most of the world is familiar with metal roller coaster tracks. They round-shaped chunks of tube with crisscross pieces attached all along the track and often look like DNA strands twisting and turning high up into the air for all riders to excitedly, or fearfully, see and hear as the speeding cars race, again and again, through the ride.
The thunderous noise, as they rise, plummet, twist and turn, creates excitement as the many riders are screaming in happy terror.
Old roller coasters, one might notice, are notoriously rough, bumpy and jolt the riders from side to side. New roller coaster, on the other hand, are amazingly smooth. The difference in ride quality can be attributed to many things but perhaps the biggest difference is that roller coaster tracks are manufactured, in these days of modern fabrication technology, with amazing accuracy.
Tracks that were once chunked together haphazardly are now welded together with amazing precision.
Part of that precision originates with the cut quality of the track itself.
AMF’s dedicated 60’ foot, 5-axis, tube laser has cut these heavy round, or square, pieces of tube within .010 of an inch (that is fractional equivalent of less than 1/64), which is a dimension the human eye nor normal tape measure cannot even decipher.
AMF’s Tube Laser not only cuts these pieces almost perfectly, is also, using its 5-axis technology, can cut the miter on the tube making it ready to weld.
Old fashioned techniques to do this same thing would require the following steps:
1) Saw cut the tube
2) Create a hand pattern and trace the cope lines on the tube
3) Hand plasma the line to create the cope shape on the tube end
4) Grind the coped tube end to create a groove for welding
That process is not only very time consuming; it is also very inaccurate (translation, bumpy ride).
AMF’s tube laser will take all those steps and accomplish them at one work center.
The time savings to make the parts using the tube laser is amazingly better—probably four times or five times faster.
However, it gets better, now when the welders begin assembling the winding tracks, the time to weld is often time 100% faster, meaning what used to take 1 hour will now take 1/2 an hour.
Overall, time to fabricate the parts and then the time to weld the parts is shockingly faster when utilizing the benefits of Tube Laser technology compared to old-school methodology.
This not only holds true for roller coaster tracks but nearly anything that comprises tube, channel, angle or pipe. Tube Lasers can cut all these shapes with unbelievable precision and speed. Even more, the weld and assembly will go much faster as well.
There is no disputing the absolute improvement in time and quality, hence our saying, “AMF has a Tube Laser and we are not afraid to use it!”
Take a minute to explore and consider how old technology might be leaving you in the dust—both in terms of price and quality.
We invite you to take the Tube Laser Challenge, meaning get a quote, tell us you want to take the challenge and we will give you another 10% off your price.
All Metals Fabrication fabricates stainless steel, steel, and aluminum. We specialize in industrial & architectural fabrication and can make you a believer in what technology can do to help your metal fabrication projects, like our roller coasters, go faster, smoother and better—no fear required.
AMF is Approaching Twenty-Five Years in Business
All Metals Fabrication approaching their twenty-five-year anniversary.
Back in summer 1994 the concept of starting All Metals Fabrication (AMF) was on the drawing board. Mel Marker, founder, had an idea—a vision of sorts—of starting his own place.
Of course, the odds were against him. Startups are risky. He still had a young family at home and so many people warning him, “Too risky;” “Be careful;”, “Are you sure you really want to do this?”
He pressed forward with courage to accomplish his dream of owning his own business.
The company started with a business plan, then a square concrete pad, then a building, then the original pieces of fabrication equipment.
Opposition and setbacks were upon the company almost immediately. Concrete pads had to be poured in blizzard-like conditions as unexpected snowfall arrived in mid November.
In early December, before we had opened our doors for business, a thief broke into our building where we had a work truck, welding machines and hand tools, and took all of it, including the truck. In the process, he smashed the forklift through the overhead doors, not only to steal but to vandalize our facility, causing an immense amount of damage.
I remember walking in the next morning and being numb—it was a gut punch extraordinaire.
From that point forward until we installed a security system, I would sleep at night—shotgun under my cot—out on the shop floor.
When the machines were finally set and a few key men hired, we opened the front door for business.
We would sell our fabrication services in the day and lay tile, paint walls and set bathroom fixtures by night. The whole family was involved. It was stressful and we worked our hearts out—indeed it was a family business.
Diane, my mom and Melissa, my sister were office administrators. My little brothers were delivery boys and shop help. Mel, my dad, was the everything else: sales, estimating, purchasing, operations manager, human resource specialist and, most of all, Chief Motivator as in every-thing-gonna’-be-alright!
Like any startup, we faced many hiccups and stumbled often—there is so much to learn.
One of the key take-aways, looking back over the twenty-five years is this—hard can be good!
Hard work pays.
Hard challenges make you stronger.
Hard knocks make you smarter.
Hard people make you more compassionate.
And yes, hard metal is just good for everyone! 😊
Experience is a gift that cannot be given—it must be earned. There are no shortcuts, no work-arounds and no substitutes.
AMF has fabrication, people and work experience that make a difference.
Even more, we have resolve, fortitude and the intense desire to make a difference for good—even when it is hard.
We live by our company mission, which is the never-ending pursuit toward improving individual lives—inside and outside the company—may we work to strengthen people, their respective families and their respective communities.
We look forward to another twenty-five years.
Welding that keeps the metal stuck together…
Welding can be as basic as a farmer, welding repairs on his tractor, or a sophisticated as a deep-sea diver, welding nuclear grade pipe connectors.
Obviously, not all welding is the same.
Metal fabrication job shops, in large part, segment themselves by the quality and type of welding they commit to do.
Like any expertise, welding has an enormous array of certifications, trainings, processes, types and specialties. Written Certifications, normally obtained by welding tests (actually testing a human welder on his/her welding skills), are a common way many shops demonstrate to their customers that they can meet specified quality levels. The term, “Certified Welder”, is probably most recognized welder description in the metal fabrication industry—sounds official, right.
The truth is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of various certifications based on types of metal, types of weld, positions of weld, etc., etc.
The idea of “Certification” is only a start to the welding process.
Other terms that are much more important include Welding Process Specifications (WPS), Welding Procedure Qualification Records (WPQR) and Certified Welding Inspectors (CWI’s).
There is a big difference between a shop that simply has “Certified Welders” and a shop that utilizes WPS’s, WPQR’s and CWI’s.
Simple welding repairs or processes, back to the tractor example, can be done quite well by traditional welding methods. However, if a the customer requires the technical documentation to guarantee precision welds—when welds really count and absolutely cannot fail—then they are better served to find a metal fabricator that has the documentation, processes—and inspection capacity—that will assure the parts will be welded correctly.
AMF utilizes in house Certified Weld Inspectors, along with WPS’s and PQR’s.
Just as important, AMF seeks to Continuously Improve our welding procedures and processes. We specialize in welding high-end steel, stainless steel and aluminum.
We are constantly adding to our catalog of Welding Procedure Specification and testing our welders to those specifications.
We invite you to learn more about what we do by visiting our website at www.allmetalsfab.com.
PS My Grandpa was a heck of a stick welder and fixed more of his farm equipment with second hand tools than I ever thought possible—loved the guy and everyone that puts on a hood and welds hot metal together!
What is Deburring?
This question has been asked enough in recent months that it might be worth exploring.
The best explanation might start with a story.
Many, many years ago we had an employee—we will call his name Frank for the purposes of this story—that was cleaning the metal drops, or remnants (the pieces left after cutting out specific shapes) from behind the shear (cutting machine).
(For those unfamiliar with fabrication think about cutting fabric with a pair of scissors…the scissors would be a shear of sorts and the pieces of fabric left outside the pattern would be the drop or remnants).
When a bunch of material is cut, there is often a large stack of remnants left behind the shear than need to be cleaned away. The material often falls into a scattered pattern and sometimes pieces get pinched or wedged into each other making it difficult to pull them out.
Frank was facing that exact situation. He was wearing gloves to protect his hands but one piece, on which he pulled, slid through his hand—the metal had a sharp edge from the shear cut. As the metal slid through his hands, it easily cut through his gloves and into his skin leaving him with a sever laceration that had to be stitched at the hospital.
The story illustrates how severe a burr can be on metal when it is sheared or saw cut. Those burrs, in many instances, are like razor blades. It happens when the shear blade or saw blade cuts through the metal and leaves a cut edge that is raised just-off the metal material.
Newer technology as decreased burrs. Laser cutting often leaves very little burr—but it does not eliminate it completely.
Many customers specifically call out burr removal on their part drawings.
At All Metals Fabrication, we have very concrete rules for deburring parts. We do not want our customers getting material that is sharp to handle.
Deburring can be accomplished by using sanding machines and tools. Most people are familiar with wood sanding (often to get rid of rough edges). The same applies to metal, although the equipment and sanding pads are quite different.
Deburring metal can be tricky, believe it or not. Too much deburring can lead to mis-configured parts. In addition, the wrong kind of deburring can eliminate the original burr only to add another burr.
Like any manufacturing, metal work has its own craftmanship rules. Eliminating burrs on metal may not compare to the craftmanship required to TIG weld or form metal parts just right, but, nevertheless, it is still and important element, as Frank might witness, to metal fabrication. It is a small detail that must be done right—and is worth the time and money to make sure it is right.
AMF has over 25 years of experience in the industry. We love to thrill our customers with accurate, burr free parts!