Keeping costs down in sheet metal fabrication
If the sheet metal product requires smaller tolerances than are normal, production costs may increase due to the time spent in ensuring that the work piece meets the required tolerance. Closer tolerances require quality monitoring because there must be less room for error. This means additional time necessary for sheet metal fabrication which means extra costs. In most instances, requirements will deviate from normal standards and this requires more careful planning prior to the fabrication process. If the product requires custom features they can easily be fabricated using metal stamping die sets or intricate plasma cutting but it will cost more compared to standard bends and punches. In order to reduce costs, the design can be tweaked or a compromise can be made between the initial design and a design that will not require fully customized sheet metal fabrication. However, it is important that the full functionality of the features will not suffer. Having a prototype offers a tangible example on how the product will look like and computer simulations will determine the range of its functions.
Importance of prototypes in sheet metal fabrication
In sheet metal fabrication, design engineers work with the fabricators to conceptualize the design of the metal product. CAD program is used to make a 3D sketch of the product. A prototype would make it easier to explain any possible changes prior to the fabrication process. The shape of the product may look good in 3D but it does not mean that the exact shape can be achieved by any metal fabrication shop. It is important to look closely into the fabrication shop if they have the right tools and equipment that can create the prototype. The skills and experience of the fabricators need to be considered to ensure that costly errors will not be committed.
A prototype will allow you to save on costs because it allows for changes to be made. If you jump right into production without developing the prototype, hundreds or even thousands of products may be wasted. Before moving to final production, it is important to ensure that the prototype will work correctly so that its design and features may be modified. Prototypes are substantially more expensive to fabricate because they are in smaller quantities but you can offset the costs in the long run. In some instances, when you discuss your needs with more experienced fabricators, they can help you figure out a design that will cost less to produce. They have the experience to determine whether your design needs simple fabrication processes instead of custom fabrication.