AMF’s Tube Laser Changes Everyday Job Shop Work
A day in the life of AMF’s amazing job shop fabrication includes this complex stainless-steel test chamber which will be shipping to Seattle, Washington where our customer will be doing small explosion tests inside of it.
The test stand was fabricated with an intricate skeleton of 2” x 4” x .25” stainless steel rectangular tube (some visible in the picture) welded and assembled inside the .25” stainless steel skin on the exterior of the stand. The tube fabrication is nearly hidden from the customer but an important part of the assembly because it provides the structural strength to withstand the explosion tests performed inside the enclosure.
This is a typical job for AMF and makes great use of our Tube Laser technology because of several factors as follows:
1) Saw cutting 2” x 4” x .25” stainless steel rectangular tubing is a very slow process for any saw. It is also an inaccurate, sloppy process when it comes to tube manufacturing. The saw cut will create an enormous burr and likely not be very square.
Slow saw cutting is one factor but deburring and dealing with out-of-square cuts creates more manufacturing waste downstream during the welding and assembly processes.
Tube laser cutting, on the other hand, generates very square and accurate cuts with almost no burr. Those factors alone will speed up the welding process by as much as 30%!
2) Many of the tube sections in this assembly also require small holes to allow pneumatic and electric lines to chase through the inside of the tube.
Those holes were cut on the tube laser, avoiding the incredibly slow and inaccurate process of hand marking and drilling the parts. Drilling a 1.0” diameter hole through .25” thick stainless-steel tube wall could, depending on a company’s equipment, take as long as 15 minutes per hole.
Cutting that same hole on the tube laser took 30 seconds—that is over 15 times faster and, again, the hole is perfectly placed which eliminates quality hassles and waste downstream.
3) Tube section are cut and etched by the tube laser so the welding team downstream knows where each piece fits, eliminating hand measuring and old school fit-up techniques prevalent in any weld assembly fit-up process.
In this example, AMF’s tube laser actually etched the rectangle-shaped line so the welder could set his tube right on the mark. This is, again, a good real-world example of every day work that people may not understand (unless you are in the business).
Fit-up is tedious work and suspect to quality errors—with the tube laser these problems nearly vanish.
Ultimately, the customer in this example has no idea that AMF is using a tube laser to make their project a giant success. In all honestly, they probably don’t care but what they do love is that their test stands look and function perfectly; they do care that it delivered on time, and they do care that our price was very competitive!
So while they may not know our manufacturing processes, sheet metal process and tube fabrication processes, they do know how happy they feel when this test stand delivers!
Manufacturing tube or sheet metal takes both craftsmanship and technology—we give it our all to have both.
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!
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!
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!
Wrap Around Templates Verses Tube Lasers in real life!
If you are still printing patterns to wrap around your structural tube (see picture) you should really consider the amazing benefits of a tube laser.
Please consider the real hours used in the old-school pattern process:
1) Laying out the pattern
2) Printing the pattern
3) Laying the pattern on the tube or pipe and tracing it
4) Hand plasma cutting the pattern
5) Grinding the jagged cut
6) Grinding the weld prep groove
Depending on quantities, this old-school pattern process could be anywhere from .75 hours to 1.5 hours of work per a piece of pipe end.
At $65.00 per an hour, this little hand-cutting process is running you up to $98.00!
When the process is finally complete, the cut-out will be very imprecise and require even more tender-loving-care to make the assembly fit up correctly!
Compare that to using a tube laser.
Even at a higher hourly rate, programming and cutting will likely cost you around $55.00 per unit.
You are already saving time and money but now consider the welding.
The part will fit perfectly.
Bevels will already be in place.
All the pulling and warping and hammering and clamping will be nearly eliminated.
Using the tube laser will save you 50% per joint over your traditional methods.
If every coped and welded joint assembly cost you $200.00 per unit, you will be doing them for $100.00 per a joint assembly.
That is enough money to really consider the benefits of tube laser cutting over traditional methods.
Email us at email@example.com, or hop on our tube laser web site and take the tube laser challenge, https://www.allmetalsfab.com/tube-laser-cutting/take-the-challenge/.
You will be the smartest guy in the room for saving your company so much money!
Communication is vital in the metal fabrication and manufacturing industry…
Case study-after-case study, tens of thousands of books, hundreds of thousands of articles have been devoted to inter-company communication.
It is critical for every business. Frankly, it is critical for success in the metal fabrication business.
AMF, as a metal fabricator, works very intentionally, even though our product is cold, hard metal, to create a manufacturing environment where communication is front and center.
Some of our key communication strategies are as follows:
1.) Every person in the company has a stand-up daily huddle. In those small huddle meetings, all our people are invited to communicate things like:
- Where they are stuck
- What is or isn’t working
- What needs special attention
- What needs coordination
Those meetings are invaluable in solving the little things that can often slip through the cracks. It also allows employees to see how their work is impacting others in the company. Even better, it gives the company the chance to spread positive change as people share ideas that are driving improvement in day-to-day operations.
2.) AMF engages in, what we like to call, Meeting Monday. Every single Monday we have the following team coordination meetings:
- Project Managers Meeting where the project managers discuss the backlog of work—what is due that current week and what the backlog looks like for the next six months and even further. We discuss manpower, bottlenecks, coordination of projects, training needs, etc.
- Executive Meeting where the executive team talks about key priorities in the company. We track progress on our key initiatives (set quarterly). We talk about strategy, execution goals, planning and forecasting.
- Sales Meeting where the sales and estimators talk about jobs that are bidding, new leads, sales calls, bidding requirements, order bookings, goals, training and coordination.
- Continuous Improvement Meeting where our CI team meets to review new suggestions that have come in through our Continuous Improvement We also make assignments to implement continuous improvement ideas that have been approved by the committee. Even more, we give out awards and recognitions for meaningful ideas that will be used.
- Finance Meeting where our finance group talks about cash flow, payable, receivables, billings, etc
3.) AMF also sends out weekly email and text messages to everyone in the company. Those messages cover numerous ideas that include the likes of the following:
- Continuous Improvement ideas that have been submitted and implemented.
- Reminders about tasks we want everyone in the company doing.
- Reminders about themes—things we are working on to improve.
- Reminders about culture, vision, values, etc.
4.) AMF spends constant energy in trying to communicate work instruction for each metal part fabricated in our shop. We call it, “One-hundred percent complete and accurate work orders.”
The theme denotes the importance of creating shop travelers that are deadly accurate and keep our shop floor craftsman from having to stop their work to gather clarification on a work order.
Obviously, any stop on the floor creates inefficiency and potential for mistakes when fabricating important parts for our customers.
There is much more but suffice it to say that fabricating metal parts is much more than assigning a person to a machine and telling him to cut or form or weld.
We believe that AMF’s intentional efforts to improve our communication skills are so important that it has become a long-term strategic initiative. We believe that expert communication will lead to world class fabrication, quality and delivery.
Our customers expect that from us—we expect it from ourselves.