Sheet Metal Fabrication: Prototyping to Product


custom sheet metal enclosure

A custom sheet metal enclosure

Sheet metal prototyping affords engineers and project managers the ability to test their product and design prior to any manufacturing. During prototyping, they can learn about potential manufacturing inefficiencies that can cost tens of thousands of dollars on short runs and many more times more during full-scale production. A&E Manufacturing has more than 45 years of experience working with companies to produce the first pieces of their product with a streamlined sheet metal fabrication processes.

Until It’s Built, No One Will Come

There are multiple steps that come between a client submitting a design and the first part even being sent into production. It is in this first step that we can identify key cost drivers that may not be necessary for a part to meet the overall requirements. The quoting department takes the initial design and decides on the most efficient way to make the part. Using our many years of experience, our quoting department and engineers are able to dissect the part submitted and give suggestions on how to better design the part for a more cost effective production run. From shearing the material, to cutting out the initial piece with our CNC laser cutting machines or CNC Turrett Presses, to any forming done on our CNC brakes, spot welding, and the finishing of the product. All processes are taken into account and our years of experience are used to help our customers have a successful prototyping run.

This can be an important step for companies that are looking to potentially launch a completely new product that is slightly outside of their normal market. Without the experience of designing for another sector, there may be a belief that certain finishes are required on a final product. However, we have helped several clients recently by either switching to a material like stainless steel or changing the type of finish that is used. This can help to save money, even at this early stage. With decades of experience, our technicians and engineers can help ensure a design will fit the environmental requirements of the application, rather than the expected needs prior to the process of sheet metal prototyping.

Testing and Processes Are Improved with Sheet Metal Prototyping

Pricing out the prototypes and working with our experienced staff can help identify areas where companies will spend needlessly during the manufacturing process. But the other advantage of prototyping is very simple: no matter how advanced the software is, testing a CAD file will not uncover every problem that a product may have. This goes beyond just regular use and into installing and attaching other parts.

Take, for example, a design that includes a specification for a 3/4-inch diameter hole that will be used for a CAT-5 cable in a rack enclosure of several servers. Depending on the rest of the design, the space may seem like it is adequate, but the cable may rub against the opening and fail or it may end up kinked and end up failing more quickly than the design intends for the component.

Certification and Manufacturing with Sheet Metal Prototyping

Radiation emissions control is a key element of electronics products and particularly those used in regulated environments such as the medical sector. One of the most common rules is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Part 15 standard. It requires that devices must not emit radiation and must accept radiation. Getting this certification requires manufacturing with extremely tight tolerances to avoid the possibility of radiation leakage and to immediately identify any potential flaws. A&E Manufacturing has years of experience making enclosures and related components for computer networking and medical equipment manufacturers and incorporating these requirements.

One other advantage of getting your sheet metal prototyping done at a facility with a variety of capabilities is the smoother translation from prototype to manufacturing process. For instance, in addition to issues noted above, some fabrication shops use drilling in areas where punching would be used in the full manufacturing run. By getting your prototypes at a facility with advanced capabilities, there are no hiccups going from drilling prototypes to punched holes in the final product.

Why Choose A&E Manufacturing for Your Sheet Metal Fabrication Needs

At A&E, quality control and checking for issues starts before the first piece is even made. Part of that is due to our hewing to ISO-9001-2008 quality control standards, ensuring that we create effective processes for each enclosure or sheet metal part that we make. We handle all stages of the process in-house and our staff have years of experience using CNC machinery for cutting and punching, plating, painting, welding and all of the other capabilities necessary to create a high-quality sheet metal prototyping run for our clients.

Contact or call us at 215-943-9460 to discuss your project today.