23rd November 2020 Blog
With any product on the market, it’s important to deliver a reliable, timely service – however, king above that is quality. A quality product needs a quality process, from design all the way to manufacture, using only the best tools, materials and processes.
In the case of sheet metal products, quality matters each step of the way. While often overlooked, metal manufacturing creates countless everyday items around the world, from lighting solutions to equipment used in hospitals, to homes and cars. This is why we utilise the finest technology and practices here at Alpha Manufacturing, where quality is at the heart of what we do.
Quality from the start
The first step to ensuring a high-quality sheet metal product is in its design. A thorough value analysis / value engineering process is used to inform an optimised design with consideration for materials, features, processes and resourcing ahead of production.
By using cutting-edge computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) design to develop the product in a virtual, 3D environment, product models can be made to exact client specifications ahead of prototyping or manufacture. CAD software enables precise designs and allows for any necessary changes to be made quickly, with New Product Introduction (NPI) staff on-hand to ensure that design specifications and standards are met throughout. A fault at the design stage will cause delays and countless issues in the later stages of manufacture, so it’s imperative to establish a quality design first time.
With the design finalised and prototypes approved, the product is ready to be manufactured and production can begin, through a number of processes that use the latest technology:
Laser cutting is a precise, powerful thermal cutting process to cut the design according to the CAD/CAM file. Using either fibre or CO2 laser source, this method achieves a smooth, clean and accurate result, avoiding sharp edges and deviations that would require further clean-up. Its precision is down to its focus of 25 microns and positioning accuracy of 10 micrometres – additionally, this method includes the benefits of heightened safety and speed for a truly streamlined process.
CNC folding is an automated method of metal folding, giving the metal product its shape. If handled improperly, this process can risk damaging the product, warping its shape or folding the metal with inaccuracies. However, the technology available at Alpha, such as the Trumpf Trubend Cell 7000 or Salvagnini P4 Lean Panel Bender, handles this process with optimum speed, accuracy and reliability to mould the shape with a high-quality result every time.
Laser oxide removal is the process of removing laser oxide scale from the edge of a product that has undergone laser cutting. The cutting process leaves an off-colour finish around the edges, which prevents future coating from being applied, for example paint, which will chip and flake easily if the laser oxide scale is not dealt with. The automated Lissmac SBM M 1000 offers two-sided removal of oxide layers in efficient time compared to one-sided options, meaning that parts can then be coated or painted with a quality finish.
Powder coating is the process of applying a paint finish to a metal part. This uses a positively charged polymer powder, which is applied to the product before being cured with heat for a finished covering. In addition to the inherent quality of this process, which results in a finish that is more resistant to chipping, fading and wearing than other paint finishes, we apply a five-stage pre-treatment for additional benefits. OXSILAN® pre-treatment technology is used for metal surface treatment for superior corrosion resistance, replacing traditional iron and zinc phosphate products for an improved ecological profile.
Assembly is the final step in the manufacturing process, with a dedicated department working to SOP quality standards for products such as server cabinets, balcony cassettes, heating systems, medical beds and more. Assembly at Alpha Manufacturing has become increasingly complex in recent times with large scale assemblies and full integration now common place for our assembly department.
That’s not all – our other processes include XP prototyping, CNC punching, stainless steel fabrication, CNC turning and machining, and welding. Once a product is manufactured, it undergoes an end-of-line product inspection by a dedicated team of experts, using CMM technology to ensure each final product aligns with our high-quality standards.
Without these procedures for quality in place, a product in the metal manufacturing process is at risk of being flawed and not fit for its purpose. Every precaution must be taken during each phase to ensure that it is done correctly, efficiently and with a quality final result.
Where we stand
At Alpha Manufacturing, we use all of these measures for quality in all of our procedures. We are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 accredited and committed to supplying products to both high-quality and environmentally friendly standards. For more information or any questions you may have, please contact us today.