There are many different methods that metal fabricators use to cut metal, but laser cutting is one of the most advanced techniques. A laser cutter’s ability to make precise cuts at speeds unmatched by other flat sheet cutting methods makes it one of the best sheet metal fabrication choices. There are several benefits to this method of cutting, including:

Competitive Pricing

Laser cutting is a highly automated process, making labor costs minimal when compared to hand-operated machinery. Since costs associated with sheet metal fabrication include labor, operation and machine expenses, this is an important factor to consider. The operating costs and machine costs are fairly average compared to other cutting techniques.

Generally, companies will find that outsourcing laser cutting for their sheet metal fabrication is the most effective option for most projects. Laser-cutting machines can be quite expensive, and most companies find that it is easier and less expensive to outsource this aspect of their fabrication process. 

One of the great things about laser cutters is that there are no dull or worn blades to worry about, making die changeovers a thing of the past. This also means that by placing larger orders, you can reduce costs tremendously, as the automated system does the mapping and planning for each additional piece. 

Although laser cutting isn’t the cheapest cutting technology available, it’s more than affordable for most projects. It has some major benefits over other cutting forms, such as water jet cutting or hand cutting processes.

Unrivaled Speed, Efficiency & Automation

A laser cutting machine can move as quickly as 1,000 holes per minute. Of course, the exact speed will vary depending on the tolerances and intricacy of the parts.

CNC controls typically run laser cutting. The formulas entered into the computer mean each part and product is identically fabricated, leading to fewer defects per batch.

Quality Precision

Laser cutting can create tiny cuts at tight tolerances. However, that’s the tradeoff: the more precision you want, the slower the laser will move. Yet, this highly detailed capability is unique to laser cutting. So, laser cutting is the only type of cutting that will get the job done well if you require intricate cuts.

Beyond that, all laser-cut edges and curves are smooth, sharp, and clean, which means there is very little, if any, burring because the laser melts rather than physically cuts the metal.

The only thing to consider is if your project requires very thick sheets of metal – thicker metals affect the cut’s quality, and a laser will leave some dross (melted metal scum) behind on thick metals. Aside from this dross, there is little to no clean-up involved in the majority of laser cutting projects.

Versatility

The combination of cost, speed, automation, and precision makes laser cutting a great choice for any size product or project. This makes many routine tasks/projects easy, including prototypes, industrial orders, delicate designs, and larger cutouts. Lasers are capable of making holes, slots, tabs, and other cut fabrications with no interruption of the cutting process. The incredible precision allows for tight tolerances on intricately detailed designs. If your project doesn’t require tight tolerances, the laser can move quickly and produce parts at incredible speeds. This makes laser cutting a fantastic choice for a wide spectrum of projects.

Yarbrough Industries is proud to offer laser cutting services for your next fabrication product. We can fabricate any order, whether it includes prototypes, components, or final assemblies. We adhere to the belief that high-quality results can only be achieved through the use of high-quality equipment. Laser cutting offers the ability to cut through various materials and thicknesses at high speeds, producing extremely precise and accurate cuts.

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Metal fabrication is a small part of the metal manufacturing industry. There are many different types of manufacturing processes, including:

  • Forging
  • Smelting
  • Blacksmithing
  • Casting
  • Stamping
  • Painting
  • Roll Forming
  • Heat Treating
  • Structural Fabrication
  • Machining
  • Metal Fabrication

As you can imagine, the wide variety involved in metal manufacturing can be overwhelming. Metal fabrication, by itself, has many subcategories and niches that would be impossible to comprehensively list. Some different categories of metal fabrication you might encounter are heavy industrial plate metal, light industrial sheet metal, heavy structural steel, and light structural steel fabrication.  

Heavy Industrial Plate Metal Fabrication

This type of fabrication might include enormous plate steel, sometimes 1”-4” thick (even heavier) and fabrication processes like plasma cutting, rolling, welding, heat treating, and finishing. Finished products that involve heavy industrial plate metal fabrication might include mining equipment, pressure vessels, and tanks.

Light Industrial Sheet Metal Fabrication

This type could include smaller weighted metal-like materials ranging from 1/32” – 1/2” and fabrication processes like Laser Cutting, Brake Forming, Welding, Anodizing, and Painting. The products produced using this type of fabrication might be Computer Enclosures, Cases, and OEM Parts.

Heavy Structural Steel Fabrication

These fabrication processes are done with sawing cutting, plasma cutting, drilling, welding, sandblasting, and painting. This process deals with structural iron and beams that weigh several hundred pounds or more per foot. You can see the results of heavy structural steel fabrication, check out skyscrapers, large bridges and tunnel supports. 

Light Structural Steel Fabrication

This can include structural tube, angle and beams that weigh less than a hundred pounds per foot.  Fabrication processes would typically be similar to heavy structural steel processes, but the products created would be Small Buildings, Small Bridges, Platforms, and Supports.

Metal Fabrication Versus Machining

Metal fabrication is a term that typically refers to manufacturing that includes cutting, forming, rolling, sawing and welding metal. However, it is not to be confused with machining. There is a bit of crossover with the two, but machining usually includes more detailed work such as milling, lathing, routing, and polishing and is typically a part of the manufacturing industry. 

In addition, fabrication usually works with manufacturing tolerances at .010” – .030” whereas machining works with tolerances all the way down to .005” (and even smaller in many cases). 

Advancements in Metal Fabrication

Metal fabrication, like all manufacturing industries, has transformed over the years as technology has become more advanced. This began with the Computer Numerically Controlled, CNC, machines. These types of machines, combined with Computer Aided Drafting, CAD, revolutionized the metal fabrication industry.

Prior to the invention of CNC and CAD, hand layouts and calculator math were the tools used by craftsmen to layout and calculate fabricated parts. Machines had manual gauges that would be fine-tuned by hand as the technician moved stops, dialed back gauges and tweaked settings.

However, those days are long gone and programs are now generated automatically from CAD drawings and sent, via computer and code, directly to the various machines. Lasers can cut metal like butter, brake forming machines can tell you which order to sequence your bends and robotic welders can weld endless amounts of wire throughout the night. Metal fabrication is still an enormous part of everyday life and most of us see it, or use it, without even knowing as much. Light rail transit cars, automobiles, snowblowers, electrical panels, guardrails, signs, etc. Metal fabrication is everywhere!

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Manufacturers typically use one of two major cutting processes when cutting material for a project. These are known as laser cutting and water jet cutting. The choice of one or the other may be better depending on the type of material used and the desired end result. This article explains some of the basic differences between these fabrication processes and the materials and types of projects that they work well with.

Laser Cutting

A laser cutter relies on gas, typically CO2, for energy. The CO2 is transmitted through a beam, guided by mirrors, and directed at the material that will be cut. With CO2 lasers, the laser source is located inside the machine, and the beam can output between 1500 and 2600 Watts, which makes safety a primary concern and can occasionally increase the price point on a laser cutting job. Materials and applications, as well as precision and safety, are important factors to think about when considering laser cutting.

Materials and Applications

Laser cutters work well with a wide variety of materials, making them an easy choice for plastic, glass, wood, and most metals. It is important to note that laser cutters cannot be used on reflective metals. It can also work on material combinations as long as that combination consists of materials with similar melting points. If the materials have different melting points, it can be rather difficult to cut. Sandwich structures with cavities cannot be cut at all using a laser, and materials with limited access prove difficult as well. 3D material cutting is also hard to manage because of the rigid beam guidance with the mirrors. 

Laser cutters do well with materials that range between 0.12 in and 0.4 in thickness and are commonly used to cut flat sheets of medium thickness steel. Typically, a laser cutter performs cutting, welding, drilling, engraving, ablation, and structuring.           

Precision and Safety

Lasers are great when you want precision. The minimum size of a laser cutting slit can reach 0.006 in, depending on the speed of the laser. It is good to note that thinner workpieces may suffer from gas pressure if the proper distance cannot be maintained, and partial burring does occur frequently. Deformation and minor structural changes can occur as a result of thermal stress, and the cut material will appear striated. 

Laser cutting produces smoke and dust, and some plastics and metals may produce toxic fumes, so being aware that those could impact time and cost is important. The overall risk involved in working with laser cutting machines is very low, however, and your time and budget can benefit from the minimal amount of waste produced and subsequent ease of cleanup. 

Waterjet Cutting

Waterjet cutters use pressurized water to cut materials. There are often abrasives such as garnets and aluminum oxide added to increase cutting ability.  The overall process mimics erosion in nature, just at a much higher speed and concentration: a high-pressure pump drives the water through rigid hoses, resulting in a forceful water jet—a typical water jet can output between 4 to 7 kilowatts. Unlike a laser cutter, where the laser source is located inside the machine, the work area and pump are often separate.     

Material and Applications

Water jets can cut virtually any material including combination materials—with combination materials. However, water jets pose the threat of delamination. They can sometimes handle 3D material cutting, and exhibit limited ability with sandwich structures and cavities. Cutting materials with limited access is possible but difficult. 

Water jets usually perform cutting, ablation, and structuring, specifically with materials like stone, ceramics, and thick metals. Materials that range in thickness from 0.4 to 2 inch benefit from water jet cutting.

Precision and Safety

Waterjet cutting is not quite as precise as laser cutting, with a minimum cut size slit of .02”. Because of the high level of force used, thin, small, parts do not fare well and must be handled carefully. Although thermal stress is not an issue and burring doesn’t occur in the cut, the surface of the material will appear sand-blasted as a result of the added abrasive to the waterjet. The waterjet cutting process is quite noisy, and requires a significant amount of clean up, which could mean a bit more labor cost. There is also a large amount of waste that occurs as a result of the mixed water and abrasive. 

At Yarbrough industries, we specialize in laser and waterjet cutting. learn more about our services and how we can help you with your next project.

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When you need to hire a machine shop, it’s important to work with someone you can trust to get the job done right the first time. Working with a local company makes this much more likely. But why?

A local machine shop offers several advantages. When you are weighing your options, consider the following benefits of working with someone in your own backyard and what you should look for when doing so:

    • You can be more specific: Clear communication and detailed specifics are essential to getting the end result you desire. Being able to deliver this information in person allows you to make sure your parameters are accurately conveyed and your machine shop understands exactly what you need. You can specify the tolerances needed and work with the local company to achieve accurate measurements and optimal results. 
    • You can make roughness smooth: An important aspect of your project is determining the desired roughness of the surface. Do you want smooth components, with a very polished surface? This depends greatly on the functionality of the parts. A local professional can explain how the roughness will affect the performance of your equipment and work with you to decide what roughness is best for your project.
    • You can choose wisely: The materials you use for your manufacturing affect the final durability and performance. It also greatly affects the cost of production. Your local machine shop will review your options with you and let you personally examine various materials to determine which is best. You may even be able to look at similar products the shop has made in the past to make an informed comparison.
    • You can enjoy savings: A local shop can save you both time and money. Enjoy a smaller budget by saving on delivery costs. Complete your project faster by cutting out delivery wait times. By working with someone local, you won’t be wondering where your parts are in transit or when the project will be completed.
    • You can be involved: When you work with a local machine shop, you can be actively involved in the manufacturing process. This will provide peace of mind and a better overall experience with production.
    • You can complete the process: Once the machine shop has designed and manufactured your piece, they can also install it. It is typically easier for the same professionals who created the part to also perform the installation. Working with someone local makes this possible.
    • You can help your community: Obviously, we all want to do what we can to ensure that the community we live in is becoming better every year. Working with a local business helps your own community and you know that they will provide reliable, timely service to keep their reputation spotless.

Shop local with Yarbrough Industries! You’ll enjoy the advantages of working with a local machine shop right here in the heart of the Ozarks while receiving the best quality from some of the top professionals in the industry. Reach out to us today with any questions or to get started on your next project.

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In every area of life, we are all looking for ways to save money, cut costs, and squeeze out every penny when it comes to our budget. No matter if it’s a trip to the grocery store, buying a car, or looking to repurpose an abandoned warehouse for something new, we all want the best quality at the best price possible. There are situations where the best price isn’t necessarily the lowest, but knowing the difference will give you the confidence you need to make an informed decision.

This is especially true when it comes to metal fabrication. Although there may not be coupons or weekly ads to compare prices, when you begin getting the bids for a job, it becomes a heavy task to sift through the facts and figures to try to ensure you are hiring the right fabricator or welder for the job. Every job has many different factors that have to be considered, but typically the bid’s total dollar amount is one of the most things you can look at.

When you are getting ready to request bids on an upcoming project, here are a few tips that can help keep estimates low and lead times short. Keep in mind, these are suggestions and you can alter each of them to fit your specifications and needs at any particular time.

 

Provide shop-ready drawings.

By providing your own drawings, you can eliminate the engineering process that many fabrication companies spend additional money on while forming their estimated bid.

Provide a completion date. 

Every fabrication company has a different workload based on multiple factors. This means that your desired delivery date will impact their bid price and ability to fit the project into their schedule.

Provide addresses and contacts.

It is not uncommon for fabricators to do a majority of the work on-site, which can help shorten lead times considerably. By having this information upfront, you allow each metal shop to determine a closer estimate of their costs based on the specifications of the job site.

Provide load specifications if possible. 

These include specs for tension, environmental loads, equipment limitations or restrictions, or even equipment cut sheets. This can provide them with valuable information on how they will be pricing your bid and if they will need to custom order anything.

Provide engineering drawings

Provide engineering drawings or basic arrangement drawings if possible. Once again, these small things allow estimators to have a clearer picture of the project in its entirety. That enables them to provide a more realistic bid total. Plus, their bid total won’t need to include costs related to this prep work.

Provide any plans and profiles available.

To reiterate for the third time, the more information you can provide prior to getting the bid, the more realistic and accurate that bid will be.

If you are ever in doubt about what you should provide, always err on the side of too much. Communication is key to more precise bids and the more detail you include, the closer to a factual total you will end up with. As an interested customer, the more information you can provide upfront, the better.

Another thing it is important to remember when you are considering a fabrication job is that if you need to make any major changes to these pre-stated specifications AFTER a job begins, it can extend the completion date out beyond the deadline and tack on extra costs that weren’t accounted for in the contingency figures. By being prepared in advance and knowing what you want from the start, your metal fabricator can actually get to work and complete the project as efficiently as possible.

Need to Request for Quote from Yarbrough Industries? Contact us anytime!

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Anytime there is metal involved in a project, there is a possibility of rust. This can present a challenge to the appearance of the project and the piece’s overall structural integrity. When iron is exposed to oxygen through air or water, rust and corrosion may take hold. There are a few ways to combat rust, but it is best to prevent it from forming in the first place.

Ways to Prevent Rust

Here are a few suggestions for how you can work to keep rust and corrosion from destroying your project.

Use Rust and Corrosion Resistant Alloys


Certain metals, such as stainless steel, are naturally resistant to rust because of their chemical makeup. For example, stainless steels have chromium added to them. The chromium combines with oxygen to form a passive layer that protects the steel from corrosion. What’s really great about this protective layer is that it can fix itself if damaged. However, this does not mean that stainless steel is completely impervious to corrosion, as exposure to extreme environments (such as saltwater) can still cause stainless steel to corrode. Before you begin a project, it is important to weigh your options regarding what metals and materials you will use and how they interact with the given environment in which they will exist.

Another option is to use weathering steel, also known as “COR-TEN” steel. This steel contains various alloys such as chromium, nickel, copper, and phosphorus that create a protective patina that can greatly reduce the corrosion rate.

Intelligent Design


Aside from choosing a corrosion-resistant metal, a lot can be accomplished to combat rust through smart design. No matter the structure you are creating, limit the number of cavities and crevices in which water could easily collect. It is better to weld joints than to bolt them together as water can penetrate the spaces underneath bolts and washers and eventually cause them to fail. It would help if you also prioritized making all spaces open to making future maintenance as easy as possible, so rust can be addressed as soon as it is discovered.

Paint


Painting is a great, low-cost way to protect against rust. The paint forms a protective barrier between the metal and corrosive elements. Oil-based paints are the best choice if you try to prevent water and oxygen from penetrating the metal and causing corrosion. Keep in mind that you will have to monitor the quality of the paint regularly. As soon as the paint chips or becomes damaged, the metal underneath will become more susceptible to corrosion.

Powder Coating


Another great option to protect your piece is to have it powder coated. This is when applying a dry powder via spraying and then heating it, so it forms a thin, protective film.

At Yarbrough Industries, we have experts to help you through the process to ensure your project lasts.

Make sure to contact us about any metal fabrication and machining questions you may have!

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There are many choices when you are looking for a metal fabricator that has the capabilities and services you need for your next project. But how do you determine which one will be the best fit for you? What is important to look for? What sets one company apart from the rest?

These are the characteristics that will help you distinguish between a competent fabricator and an exceptional metal fabrication partner.

1. Experience Matters

A company with years of experience under their belts will have the knowledge to help you make strategic decisions regarding product design and fabrication needs. When you partner with an experienced company, you will be backed by the knowledge and expertise of people who can make the best recommendations while keeping them realistic. They can guide you in everything from structural aesthetics to functionality.

2. Invested In Your Success

When choosing a partner for your metal fabrication needs, you should look for someone who is personally invested in your success, beginning to end.  When you have a partner who has watched your product evolve and helped refine your designs, they will be far more invested in creating an effective product. Effectual product design begins with an expert partner who can guide you through the entire product development cycle.

3. Innovation Is Imperative

The way a company approaches a new project can set them apart when you are looking for the right fit. A company with an innovative approach to projects will stand out from the commoditized competition by differentiating itself through value-driven fabrication. No matter if you are looking for a simple consultation on product development or needing full metal fabrication project management, the partner you choose should constantly evaluate the product’s functionality, cost-effectiveness and structural integrity. 

4. Cost-Consciousness

The company you choose to partner with should have a proactive cost avoidance approach. Avoiding unseen costs due to scope creep is important as you work through your project. It is a common occurrence for metal fabrication products, so identifying a fabrication partner that will help you reduce material, assembly and shipping costs, as well as holding and handling costs, a ballooning scope—and bill—can be avoided. To be successful, it is critical that your fabrication partner commits to understanding all aspects of your supply chain operations.

5. Multiple Material Suppliers

When a metal fabricator buys from multiple suppliers, they are able to negotiate for material prices and products on your behalf and to your benefit. Having multiple suppliers also means they can buy, ship, store and process the steel in-house, which helps considerably when you need high-volume projects and achieving economies of scale. multiple suppliers, they are able to source materials that best suit your application. The flexibility to purchase large quantities at reduced prices OR specialty material for your non-typical project means you will get exactly what you need at the best possible rate.  

Choosing the best metal fabrication partner is critical to the overall strength of your business. By taking the time to identify and partner with a strategic, useful, all-in-one metal fabricator, you’ll notice a difference in production cost, effectiveness and efficiency. Don’t settle for anything short of first-class service and reliability.

Yarbrough Industries is here to provide the experience and service you need to ensure your project’s success. 

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