Metal finishing services are processes to modify or enhance the surface of metal objects to achieve specific functional or aesthetic properties. They are often applied to improve the metal’s corrosion resistance, appearance, adhesion, durability, or conductivity. These services are commonly employed in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, jewelry, and manufacturing industries.
Various finishing techniques are available, and the choice of method depends on the desired outcome and the metal type being treated. This article delves into the essential factors to consider when selecting the optimal post-processing technique for a specific application.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Metal Finishing Technique
The right method can enhance the functionality, appearance, and longevity of metal components, ensuring optimal performance. However, with several options available, it is crucial to consider the following factors before making a decision:
Different metals and alloys have unique properties and behaviors, which can significantly impact the effectiveness and compatibility of specific finishing methods. Understanding the material composition ensures that the chosen technique will achieve the desired results without causing any adverse effects. Additionally, the surface preparation requirements may vary based on the metal composition.
For instance, electroplating is commonly used for metals like copper, nickel, and chrome, whereas anodizing is primarily applied to aluminum surfaces. Similarly, galvanizing is an effective technique for steel and iron, while black oxide coating is ideal for ferrous metals.
The desired outcome can vary based on the specific application and requirements, and it often determines the choice of finishing method. For example, techniques such as galvanizing or electroplating can be suitable if the goal is to enhance the metal’s corrosion resistance. Meanwhile, methods like polishing, buffing, or powder coating can be applied if the objective is to improve the component’s aesthetics.
Evaluating the cost-effectiveness helps ensure that the chosen technique aligns with budgetary constraints while delivering the desired results. This involves assessing the overall expenses associated with the method and weighing them against the benefits gained. For example, some finishing techniques may require expensive chemicals, specialized equipment, or skilled labor, which can significantly impact the cost.
The volume of metal components to be treated can affect the feasibility and efficiency of finishing methods. For high-volume production, techniques that offer faster processing times and higher throughput may be preferred. These processes could include electroplating or powder coating, which can quickly treat large numbers of parts and components through automation.
Conversely, more specialized or intricate processes may be ideal for small-scale or custom applications. These tasks necessitate meticulous attention to detail and may include hard labor. For example, hand polishing, chemical etching, and custom patination may be more suited for generating unique finishes.
Lead time is the duration required to complete the finishing process. It is an important factor to consider, especially when there are time constraints or specific project timelines.
Techniques like chemical etching or mechanical polishing may have shorter processing times, making them appropriate for projects with tight deadlines. On the other hand, anodizing and multi-step plating involve longer treatment durations, requiring more time to achieve the results.
Some techniques may require regular maintenance to preserve the desired finish and functional properties. For instance, certain plating methods may need periodic cleaning or inspection to maintain their appearance and protective properties. Anodized surfaces may also require occasional sealing or touch-ups to ensure continued corrosion resistance.
Trust TBSI for Top-Notch Metal Finishing Services!
At TBSI, we understand the importance of delivering high-quality coating solutions that meet our customers’ requirements! Our objective is to provide excellent and cost-effective solutions that offer the exact finish required for the product to come to life. You can choose from our range of advanced coating techniques, including powder coating, liquid painting, and plating.
Steel is one of the world’s most versatile and essential materials, used in everything from construction to manufacturing to transportation. Countless types of steel are available, each with unique properties and characteristics that make it suitable for specific applications. Two of the most commonly used types are carbon steel and stainless steel.
This guide will discuss the differences between carbon steel and stainless steel and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel
Here is a comprehensive comparison between these two steel types:
While carbon steel is more susceptible to corrosion, it can be protected with special coatings to prevent rust and ensure long-lasting performance. On the other hand, stainless steel boasts exceptional corrosion resistance, which makes it a top choice for applications that require high durability and longevity.
While carbon steel is a strong and durable material, it has a lower heat resistance than stainless steel. Therefore, it is not recommended for applications that involve high temperatures, as it may become brittle easily.
Carbon steel is renowned for its outstanding strength and durability, which makes it a top pick for heavy-duty applications. In addition, it can handle high-stress levels without any deformation or breakage. This is highly useful in construction and manufacturing. In contrast, stainless steel is ideal for applications that require moderate strength.
Carbon steel is a cost-effective option for projects requiring high-strength materials, such as automotive manufacturing.
Stainless steel’s distinctive shine and smooth finish make it popular for decorative purposes. On the other hand, carbon steel’s uniform look is often preferred for applications where durability and practicality are prioritized over aesthetics.
Carbon steel is known for its ease of use and versatility in welding. It can be welded using various techniques, making it a convenient choice for many welding applications. On the other hand, welding stainless steel requires specialized equipment and techniques to prevent damage to the material.
Applications of Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel
The following are the most common applications of carbon steel:
Construction (bridges, buildings, beams, columns, reinforcement bars)
The following are the most popular applications of stainless steel:
Medical equipment (surgical instruments, implants, medical devices)
Food and beverage (tanks, conveyor belts, storage containers)
Chemical (reactors, piping, tanks)
Architecture (columns, beams, cladding, facades)
Automotive (exhaust systems, trim components, fuel tanks)
Marine (propellers, shafts, rudders)
Watchmaking (watch cases, bracelets, clasps)
Jewelry (rings, bracelets, necklaces)
Electronics (computer hardware, mobile phones, appliances)
TBSI: Delivering Excellence in Steel Fabrication
Maximize the performance and durability of your products with high-quality steel components and fabrications from TBSI! Whether you need carbon steel or stainless steel solutions, our expert team can help you navigate the differences between the two materials. We will also guide you in selecting the right one for your needs.
Machining is no longer considered new technology, with its history dating back to the 1940s. However, its relevance is still undeniable. This process remains crucial to several industries since it creates materials that can be used to manufacture tools and devices or create buildings and formations. Moreover, machining is not limited to metal products but extends to woods, plastics, ceramics, and composite materials.
Due to continuous improvements in the field of machining, computer numerical control (CNC) automation rose in the 1970s. CNC automation allows manufacturers to improve on existing technologies and set a higher standard in the manufacturing process. This innovation also enabled the integration of computer precision and design into workshops, eventually resulting in higher-quality goods at lower costs.
Advantages of Machining
Before diving into the different machining services, let’s first look at some reasons manufacturers continue to use the machining process.
CNC machining is often the best option when parts or products must be made to high-precision specifications. For example, precision machining is widely used in the aerospace and medical device industries, where fabrication errors must be avoided at all costs.
Machined parts and products are highly reliable because human error and alteration are eliminated during production. This advantage is most relevant in the construction and automotive industries.
Machining automation is also a breakthrough in workplace safety since these processes are computer-controlled and do not require hands-on operation. As a result, accidents are less likely to occur. Not only does this protect the people involved, but it also decreases financial damages from accident liabilities.
This automated technique allows manufacturers to speed up production while keeping overhead and labor costs affordable. Thus, CNC machining increases efficiency and lowers costs through automation, lesser waste, and improved production.
Machining remains relevant as it can be used to produce various parts and products in diverse sizes and materials. In addition, it is a core process in manufacturing, so its importance spans several fields and industries.
TBSI Machining Services
TBSI offers manufacturing capabilities and solutions to help engineers and purchasers overcome production constraints. Its extensive manufacturing network of highly skilled machine shops provides clients with complex CNC machining solutions.
In particular, TBSI provides a wide range of machining capabilities, such as CNC turning, CNC milling, surface grinding, and EDM.
CNC turning is most suitable for machining cylindrical parts. The workpieces are held in rotating chucks, moving at high speeds. Adjacent to the chucks, a tool follows a linear path to remove a portion of the workpiece. This process is also known as subtraction machining, as the process involves material removal.
Facilities that offer CNC turning typically have three, four, or five axes capable of working on various materials. These also follow pre-programmed instructions that control tooling and movement, producing a high-precision CNC machining process.
CNC milling is a machining process that uses computer-based controls and rotating multi-point cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece. This process would then create a custom-designed component or product.
CNC milling is suitable for machining various materials, including metal, plastic, glass, and wood. Its versatility and precision make it an excellent option for adding extra features or more intricate definitions on machined products.
Surface grinding is a CNC machining technique that precisely and efficiently processes and grinds surfaces. A rotating wheel with a coarse surface coating of various materials propels it. It also removes metallic or nonmetallic particles from the workpiece’s surface, making it smooth or flat.
Additionally, surface grinding refines the appearance of the machined surface by removing the oxide layer and other residues. Vertical swivel, horizontal spindle single disk, vertical spindle rotary, vertical spindle, and flat spindle grinding are all surface grinding methods.
The surface grinder comprises an abrasive wheel, a chuck, and a reciprocating or rotary table. The chuck holds the material in place while it is being worked on. Non-ferromagnetic and nonmetallic elements are held in place by vacuum or mechanical means, whereas ferromagnetic elements are held in place by a magnetic chuck. If a magnetic chuck is not available, a machine vise (made of ferromagnetic steel or cast iron) can be used to hold nonmagnetic materials.
Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM)
The EDM process removes material from equipment or products using electrical energy. However, it only works with electrically conductive materials, which creates an arc of high-frequency sparks between the electrode and the product. Sparks then erode microscopic particles from a workpiece flushed with dielectric fluid from the substrate.
The primary advantage of EDM is that you can use it on conductive materials that are difficult to machine using traditional cutting methods. These materials include tungsten carbide and titanium. Another advantage of this CNC machining process is that the equipment is not subjected to mechanical force. The three types of EDM are wire, ram, and hole drilling.
Start Your Next Project With TBSI For The Best Machining Solutions
Successful projects require hard work, organization, and good partners. As a strategic sourcing firm specializing in agile project management, we at TBSI provide customers with competitive rates and short lead times by collaborating with an extensive manufacturing network and leveraging volume pricing on raw materials.
Tube bending is the process of bending a tube or a pipe to create the curves and shapes required for a particular application. For many projects, bent tubes are more useful than straight ones: handles and railings, trombones, HVAC equipment, automotive parts, furniture frames, and more. Tube bending can be a cold form or hot form process, depending upon the needs of the application.
Cold Form Tube Bending
Cold form tube bending is a quick process that doesn’t require any additional heat and instead relies on physical force to create the curve. While cold bending may have its limitations, it’s an affordable choice that’s used in the construction, shipbuilding, bridge building, automotive, food processing, and petrochemical industries, among others.
With cold form tube bending, you can create components with large radii and multiple angles. There is no risk of thermal deformation and the original metal properties remain intact.
There are five commonly used cold bending processes:
Press Bending. In press bending, the tube is fixed in place and the bend die is pressed against the tube to create the curve. This long-used technique is quick and reliable for symmetrical parts that don’t require a consistent cross-section.
Rotary Draw Bending. Commonly used for pipe fittings, handrails, instrument tubing, and components for automotive and aerospace applications, rotary draw bending is used for precise bends with a constant diameter.
Compression Bending. Because the setup is simpler, compression bending is more economical than rotary draw bending. However, it can’t be used for small center-line radii due to the lack of support for the inner diameter of the tube during the bending process.
Roll Bending. The tube is worked back and forth on a set of rotating rollers, which gradually create the bend radius. Roll bending is used to make spiral tubes and bends in large tubes.
Bending Springs. Used for PVC and soft copper pipes, bending springs are placed into the tube and gently pulled from each side to create the bend. It’s not especially accurate or repeatable, but it’s simple, fast, and useful for household tube bending projects when consistency isn’t required.
Hot Form Tube Bending
Though more complex and expensive than cold forming, hot form tube bending processes, including heat induction bending and sand packing hot-slab bending, allow for high-accuracy forming to meet your exact specifications. The resulting component offers excellent strength, and the material retains its thickness. For complex projects with tight tolerances that require exceptional accuracy and repeatability, hot form bending is a popular choice. It’s used for components in the agricultural, mining, automotive, plumbing, and construction industries, among others.
Freeform Tube Bending
Freeform bending is an innovative tube bending method that uses a movable die capable of bending complex parts without needing to change the bending tool. The technique is ideal for multi-radius bends with very little distance in between and angles of more than 180 degrees. It’s easy to make modifications to the project as you work, which makes it an excellent method for prototyping. Roll bending is a type of freeform bending.
Form Bound Tube Bending
Form bound tube bending is a technique that bends or forms the tubing based on the geometry of the die. It can be manual or performed with machines and includes techniques like rotary draw bending, compression bending, and mandrel bending.
Tube Bending from TBSI
At TBSI, we leverage years of experience in tube bending to meet the needs of a variety of applications. With competitive pricing, quick lead times, and personalized service, we’re committed to helping you solve project challenges and deliver effective solutions. Contact us to learn more about tube bending, CNC forming, wire forming, and other forming solutions, or request a quote for your project today.
Automation capitalizes on technological advancements to efficiently manage machinery and processes, with the ultimate goals of increasing production speeds and output, all while ensuring quality products and reducing costs. Welding automation, also known as robotic welding, is one of the more widely used robotic applications in the industrial sector. The process typically utilizes a robotic arm with three-dimensional capabilities for movement, replacing manual labor with technology and controlling a welding torch to unite materials or components into one assembly. Manufacturers often use this advantageous automated process when carrying out high-volume and repetitive welding tasks.
Benefits of Welding Automation
Welding is already present in virtually every industry. Automating the process offers operations a wealth of benefits, including:
Increased efficiency and output. Robotic welding significantly improves upon the rate of manual operations, allowing companies to increase production speeds and make better use of their workforce in other areas.
Decreased opportunities for human error. No matter how much training welders receive, the human workforce will never be immune to making mistakes. Automated processes are more reliably consistent.
Versatility. Automated systems are more flexible in that users can configure them as they please, moving or modifying their placement when necessary.
Improved safety conditions for staff. Automated welding improves the safety of a facility because workers will not expose themselves to hazardous environments.
Budgetary advantages. Increased productivity equates to higher profits. Also, eliminating human error saves on raw material waste and the production time involved in reworking.
Common Welding Automation Processes
Manufacturers have a variety of robotic welding options to choose from when selecting the ideal automated process. The following methods can be semi- or fully automated for faster production and improved accuracy:
Metal inert gas (MIG) welding. To generate a welded joint with automated MIG welding, a continuous, solid wire electrode passes quickly through a welding gun and then into the weld pool. A shielding gas safeguards the weld pool against contaminants. This economical arc welding method is also known as gas metal arc welding (GMAW).
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. Another arc welding technique, versatile TIG welding utilizes tungsten electrodes for high-quality welded joints. It is an ideal method for creating joints between thin or small components.
Dual-shield welding. This type of arc welding generates an arc that passes between a consumable electrode and the weld pool, which receives protection from an external shielding gas and an electrode’s internal flux. It’s also referred to as flux core arc welding (FCAW).
Grid welding. This form of welding uses a pattern board for the precise positioning of individual wires as they go through welding machinery. The weld creates wire mesh by combining orthogonal wire pairs in a grid configuration.
Pulsed welding. This form of welding uses both low and high currents, switching between the two during production. It’s applicable for a range of material thicknesses for good versatility, and it also improves material resistance and minimizes heat input.
Spot welding. Spot welding combines heat from an electric current and pressure to melt metal sheets and join them together. The pressure is not released until the joint is set, and no filler material is required for the process.
Robotic welding processes can also incorporate things like automated remote welding, joint locating, weld seam tracking, process simulation, and offline system programming for more flexible manufacturing operations and greater process control.
Future of Welding Automation
Trained human welders will continue to have a place in welding processes. Often, they can better handle specialized tasks, or a single operator may oversee multiple processes or pieces of equipment working in sync. However, welding automation continues to grow in manufacturing as it can streamline the process and offer so many benefits to an operation. Assembly lines, in particular, are capitalizing on automated processes like welding to increase efficiency and repeatable production.
Another type of robotic welding that is gaining in popularity is laser welding. This newer technology utilizes a high-powered beam of light to create the heat needed to rapidly melt and weld metal components together. The process currently struggles with dense or thick metals, so this is an area in which laser welding innovations would be useful.
Automated Solutions From TBSI
At Taylor Business Strategies, Inc., we offer expert manufacturing solutions to customers in a variety of industrial sectors, with an emphasis on welding. TBSI offers a range of robotic welding capabilities to meet varying needs, such as MIG, TIG, dual-shield, grid, pulsed, and spot welding. We complement our services with fast lead times and affordable prices to best serve our customers.
Are you running into production limitations in your welding project? Contact us today to request a quote and learn more about TBSI and the services we offer.
When it comes to manufacturing precision components, CNC saw machines and tube laser cutting machines are two advantageous equipment options. Both automated systems utilize set instructions within a computer program to rapidly generate products, even in high-volume production runs. While both pieces of equipment can handle jobs demanding intricate cutting, each has distinct capabilities and benefits, so it is helpful to understand the differences to determine which one is the best choice for a specific application.
What Is CNC Sawing?
Manual saw cutting was once considered the standard method for fabricating components. In computerized numerical control (CNC) sawing, a physical saw blade uses friction and automation to cut through thick materials like metal and plastic. Depending upon the application, saw blades for CNC cutting include circular, band, and miter saws.
Manufacturers can create a design file using computer-aided design (CAD) or computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software, which integrates with the CNC saw cutting machine. A computer then guides the cutting implement with optimum performance and output speed while reducing the risk of operator injury.
What Is Tube Laser Cutting?
Modern technology has opened the door for tube laser cutting, a non-contact technique that uses a laser’s heat to quickly and efficiently cut through materials. Manufacturers commonly use this flexible process to cut tubes ranging in size, shape, material type, and thickness to desired lengths, or bore holes or design features into tubing surfaces. Operators also have the option of producing either two- or three-dimensional designs with two- or three-axis tube laser cutters.
Tube laser cutting is an ideal method for consistent repeatability, providing superior precision and smooth edges in its cuts. This reduces the need for secondary finishing. That, and the fact that laser cutting equipment can handle both general and design-specific cutting on a single machine, provides cost-saving efficiency.
What Materials Are Best to Use for a CNC Saw vs. a Tube Laser?
One of the most significant advantages of a CNC sawing machine is that it can cut through thicker materials that other cutting techniques can’t. Materials that are ideal for CNC sawing include:
Aluminum, steel, and metal plate
Alternatively, compatible materials for tube laser cutting include:
Aluminum, titanium, and other metals or steel alloys
Cost Difference Between Laser and Saw Cutting
Many manufacturers assume that CNC sawing is the most cost-effective method of the two, but they must consider several factors, including any material and tolerance requirements, when choosing the most affordable and effective process for the job. Unlike saw machining, laser cutting has the potential to be a dual operation that offers reduced costs when a task requires multiple cuts. Eliminating the need for secondary finishing can provide cost savings as well. However, while laser cutting machines necessitate less maintenance than CNC sawing machines, they consume more energy. Manufacturers must weigh the advantages of each for determining the ideal process to meet a specific application’s requirements.
Partner With TBSI
When selecting the right cutting technique for your application, consider the material and the number of cuts and, importantly, employ an operator with years of experience in metal manufacturing to achieve superior quality. Taylor Business Strategies, Inc. has been fabricating high-performance components since 1998, drawing on an extensive supplier network for the best results.
Offering quick lead times, competitive pricing, and nearly unlimited capacity, TBSI provides agile sourcing solutions while taking a problem-solving approach on all projects. In addition to CNC sawing and tube laser cutting, our capabilities include flat laser cutting, waterjet cutting, CNC plasma and router cutting, torching or flame cutting, and shearing. TBSI has access to more than 50 lasers within our supply chain, including six tube lasers that can cut tube lengths of 30 feet.
Contact our experienced team today to learn more about how TBSI can help your business with all of your steel fabrication needs, or request a quote to begin your project.
Welding is the process of joining separate parts together with heat and/or pressure, and it’s commonly used on metal, wood, and thermoplastics. Many welding processes, including arc welding, use fillers to help form the weldment. Two common types of arc welding are MIG welding and TIG welding, and each offers advantages in specific applications. We’ll discuss those unique advantages and disadvantages here, as well as distinguish the two processes to help you determine which one is best for your project.
What Is MIG Welding?
MIG welding, or metal inert gas welding, is also known as GMAW (gas metal arc welding). This type of arc welding uses a consumable electrode wire that creates an arc with the workpiece and melts to form the filler. To protect the weld pool from contamination, MIG welding uses a shielding gas like argon, helium, carbon dioxide, or oxygen.
MIG welding is fast and efficient for welding a variety of metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, and carbon steel. This is the most popular type of welding because it’s easy to learn and delivers high-quality results. This process commonly produces automotive and piping products.
What Is TIG Welding?
Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is also called gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW). Instead of using a consumable wire, TIG welding applies a tungsten electrode to melt the workpieces together directly or with a handheld filler rod. The shielding gas for TIG welding is typically argon.
The TIG welding process is more complex than MIG welding, so it requires a highly skilled and experienced technician. The resulting welds are exceptional in strength and aesthetics.
What Are the Basic Differences Between MIG and TIG Welding?
There are some key differences between MIG vs. TIG welding, and those differences determine which technique is best for a particular application:
Training: MIG is easier to learn, while TIG takes more time and practice to master.
Materials: MIG welding works well with most metals, including aluminum, stainless steel, and copper. TIG welding can work with these materials too, but it cannot be used for ferrous metals.
Shielding gas: The right shielding gas varies according to workpiece material and type of welding. The gas for TIG welding is typically 100% argon or argon with a small amount of helium or hydrogen. The gas for MIG welding is usually 75% argon with 25% carbon dioxide. MIG welding on aluminum requires 100% argon shielding gas.
Speed: MIG welding is generally faster than TIG welding.
Strength: Though TIG welding is often believed to create stronger joints, both types can produce strong, durable welds with the right technique.
Heating process: In the TIG welding process, the welder can control the amperage with a foot pedal, precisely adjusting the heat in real time.
MIG Welding vs. TIG Welding: Pros and Cons
A comparison of MIG welding and TIG welding reveals certain benefits and drawbacks that may have varying degrees of importance to your application:
Speed: MIG welding can create welds faster than TIG welding, resulting in faster production cycle times.
Complexity: TIG welding is complicated and requires more cleaning, but it provides deeper material penetration than MIG welding.
Aesthetics: MIG welding generally produces a less tidy weld than TIG welding, but this may not matter if the weld is hidden from view or appearance is not important to the application.
Cost: MIG welding is less expensive, mostly because it takes far less time to do.
Sealing efficacy: TIG welding is preferred for sealing welds.
Ultimately, the best choice between MIG and TIG welding depends upon your materials, budget, aesthetic requirements, type of weld, and timeline.
MIG Welding and TIG Welding Services From TBSI
At Taylor Business Strategies, Inc. (TBSI), we offer a variety of welding services, including MIG, TIG, robotic, grid, dual shield, pulsed, and spot welding. To learn more about welding or our other capabilities, request a quote today.