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 rollercoasters, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Getting your Engineering Mind Wrapped Around Tube Laser Parts
One in a while, when we see something anew, we can have an aha moment—a paradigm shift of sorts.
These creatively engineered parts are all part of a fixture assembly that a clever engineer designed once he understood what kind of cutting a tube laser could do!
All of these would have been machined parts and expensive—now they are tube laser cut, even the channel, and done with relative ease.
Tube Laser allows for parts to have slots, miters, complex angles, etc. and all done at one work station with the fast cutting people have learned to appreciate from laser technology.
Contact us today and learn more!
Tube Laser vs Bundle Cut Sawing
Tube lasers, obviously, are limited to cutting one stick of tube (or angle or channel) at a time.
How does that stack up to saw cutting bundles of tube when comparing labor time?
The answer may be surprising.
Bundle cutting is very efficient, but it has draw backs. Here are a few the bundle cutting advocates should consider:
1) The time it takes to ‘assemble’ the bundle.
2) The time and expense that is encountered when bundle pieces disassemble or flay about causing the saw blade to break.
3) The time it takes to deal with pieces that are not cut exactly right because the bundle isn’t cooperating perfectly.
4) The time it takes to deburr all the parts (normally left with a rough burr).
5) Here is a big, big one that most people forget or fail to recognize…the time it takes to manage downstream fit and weld issues because the parts are not cut squarely or are out of tolerance.
Tube Laser technology has come a long way. We are not talking about a flat laser, meant to cut sheet metal, that has a tube cutting add on. We are talking about a dedicated sixty foot machine that is cycling through 20’ lengths of material in automated fashion.
If the tube is square and the parts have no holes, miters or angle cuts, bundle cutting may still win, particularly if there are very large quantities.
However, if you had any kind of miter or angle cut, or any kind of hole or slot, tube laser technology will prove significantly faster.
Here is why:
1) Tube Lasers eliminate the huge amounts of time consumed in multiple setups needed to saw, deburr, cope, fixture, drill.
2) Tube Lasers eliminate huge amounts of waste in material movement (from work center to work center).
3) Tube Lasers eliminate waste of space as piles of batch and queue parts can be removed from the shop floor.
4) Tube Lasers vastly improve the fit and weld time down stream because the parts are perfectly cut, +/- .01, which keeps fitters from struggling with alignment and welders from filling gaps (and fighting all the warping that comes from excess welding). This is a huge benefit!
Even more, parts can be laser cut to fit into each other with tabs and slots making it virtually impossible for down stream quality errors.
Even more, parts can be cut with etching, tabs and slots that make fixtures unnecessary.
Bundle cutting may still have a car in the race but only on the rare exception. The first notion of anything beside square cuts and the Tube Laser will easily win the race.
Call us or email for more information—the costs savings are real!
Explanation of What 5-Axis Means for Tube Laser
5-Axis Tube Lasers sound pretty cool but what does that actually mean?
Pictures well help explain—hopefully a few sentences will help as well.
Axis #1: Material is moved from Left to Right (or Right to Left) along the horizon, as it were, of the machine.
Axis #2: Tube Laser Head is moved from Front to Back (or Back to Front) across the material like saw cutting across a two-by-four.
Axis #3: Tube Laser Head is moved Up and Down (or Down and Up) above the material like a drill press moving up and down to drill.
Axis #4: Tube Laser Head is Pivoting on a radius (or arc) on the same horizontal plane as Axis #1 like sketching an ark with a hand compass.
Axis #5: Tube Laser Head is rotating on a 360 degree radius above the laser nozzle like an owl’s head so-to-speak.
Ultimately, with all these axis operating simultaneously, the Tube Laser can cut a huge array of shapes and sizes with cutting surfaces that are normal and angle cut to the surface of the metal.
For more information, we invite you to contact All Metals Fabrication at 801.392.9494 or email@example.com.