What Should Fabricators know about the Economy of Sheet Metal Fabrication Business?

For global sheet metal fabricators, the customers – automotive OEMs and retailers – have shown an increased spending pattern across the globe. The international sheet metal fabrication service market is projected to grow at CAGR of 1.4% between 2017 and 2025. The report also points towards the fact that bending, cutting and punching operations are likely to be the most extensively used operations on the shop floor.

And new, growing business opportunities mean bulk order receipt, shortened processing time, and quick delivery. Small mistakes in design interpretation, a wrong cut, or inaccurate angle of the bend might lead to catastrophic changes in the final product output.  

Avoid misdeeds beforehand fabrication starts

Every fabricator wants to resolve aforesaid challenges with an objective view and multifaceted angles. Mistakes are not permitted on the shop floor; so naturally, fabricators would want designs to be thoroughly verified, validated with proof of concepts, and flexible enough to accommodate last-minute changes originating from the shop floor.

For example, when an automobile chassis sheet metal is punched with a punch [or a male die block] and a female die block, the impression on the punch is of the shape as desired – a common phenomenon. Fabricators know the importance of correct alignment between two dies and the job – an activity done daily. Fabricators need to have accurate geometric dimensioning and precise tolerance values for sheet metal to be cut and develop near-net shapes which will reduce finishing processes such as filing. On top of it, there are the tasks of maintaining the efficiency of punch and die designs, displacement of job and tool control for bending or cutting process and complexity of die shapes. 3D CAD modeling takes care of these challenges – just perfectly.

Flexibility and inclusion of all design features

There are plenty of good reasons to use CAD modeling, apart from the ones stated above. Especially in case of sheet metal parts, CAD modeling empowers engineers to see the models in the sheet metal part view using simple ‘convert to sheet metal part’ function, instead of a normal solid part model.

CAD functionalities are known for accurate calculation of sheet metal properties such as flat patterns, bending radius consideration, k-factor, collars, spring-back effects, grain orientation and obviously different sectional views of the part model. Also today, many CAD platforms accessible in the markets hold design and manufacturing information including tools used in the machine shop.

Such CAD platforms are intelligible enough to understand the calculations for DFM requirements and geometrical attributes such as minimum distance to avoid failure or tearing of sheet, for any 3D geometry drawn in CAD environment. Displaying warning messages for non-standard hole command or manufacturing operation and calculating bend radius immediately when the command to generate hole is given; are some of the common features that are available in CAD platform when CAD modeling is done.

Additionally, when designs are modeled in CAD platforms, it automatically gives a backdoor to alter them efficiently without any major obstacles. These features come in really handy especially when ECOs arise from shop floor or flaws are detected in designs while simulations are carried out. CAD enables the designer to make amendments easily which otherwise would take a considerable time to change and update; not to mention that it causes rippling effects which, in some cases, lead to unnecessary design changes.

Partnership will increase the revenue

Changing economic spending trends will essentially mark a sharp uptick in steel prices; and working without CAD in such dynamics might prove to be a nightmare. Partnering a sheet metal design consultant, equipped to guide you with CAD or can help you in preparing CAD models and design your sheet metal fabrication requirements – is advisable and profitable too.

This will let you as a sheet metal fabricator, focus on more productive processes and taking care of internal affairs such as managing resources or innovating designs rather than sitting and spending hours to model the concept. Partnership with design support service providers, will not only let you work more efficiently but will also affect timely delivery positively.

About Author: Usha B. Trivedi is an engineer with Hitech CADD Services, a company providing design support services for product drafting and modeling across the globe. With years of experience in CAD modeling and rendering, she writes to provide insightful solutions for the process challenges of fabricators, engineers, architects and contractors.

Author:Usha B. Trivedi