How Laser Cutting Can Reduce Lead Times

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Laser cutting involves the use of a high-powered laser beam to cut through an object using computer numerical control, or CNC. As the laser beam glides across the material, everything in its path either is melted, burned, and vaporized away, or is blown away by a jet of gas.

This process allows for a range of benefits, including a very high-quality surface finish. Rarely is finishing work needed. Industrial laser cutters are used to cut various flat-sheet materials in order to create metal parts and components, as well as structural and piping pieces. Stainless steel, mild steel, and aluminum are the most commonly cut types of metals. Laser cutting is typically preferred over plasma cutting for sheet metal applications, as it’s more precise and uses less energy.

The Vytek FiberCAB 44 Laser Cutting System

To ensure our customers receive the most cutting-edge laser cutting services available, the team at American Industrial Co. (AIC) recently added a brand-new Vytek FiberCAB 44 laser cutting system to our facility, allowing us to offer new, enhanced capabilities.

The FiberCAB 44 system makes use of the very latest in fiber-optic technology to perform precision laser cuts and etchings, allowing us to fulfill all of our customers’ metal stamping and forming needs completely in-house. One of the most advanced laser cutting systems on the market, the FiberCAB 44 can easily cut through as much as 0.25 inch of various metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper.

An advanced hybrid direct-drive motion control technology allows for increased cutting speed and accuracy, giving the FiberCAB 44 unparalleled precision and accuracy. And along with this higher accuracy comes reduced downtime, meaning we can offer quick, cost-efficient solutions for our clients.

The FiberCAB 44 is designed to meet the diverse needs of all customers, whether they require smaller batch runs, shorter lead times, or frequently altered part designs. The FiberCAB 44 also offers optimal energy efficiency, minimal routine maintenance, long machine life, compact and space-efficient design, and tight tolerances of ± 0.002 inch. This precision is possible thanks to the fiber-optic focus, which amplifies the strength of the laser while dramatically reducing the spot size.

How the FiberCAB 44 Reduces Lead Times

The addition of the state-of-the-art FiberCAB 44 system has allowed AIC to further boost our operational efficiency. Since fiber lasers cut sheets and thin metal much quicker than their CO2 counterparts, every step of the process can be optimized to reduce lead times and costs.

With the Vytek FiberCAB 44, we’ve streamlined our cutting process into four steps: Parts are designed in CAD software; the design is imported vectorially to Laserworx software; the software converts the vector lines of a CAD drawing into cut paths; and, finally, the fiber laser either cuts parts entirely from sheet metal or cuts parts into precut strips to prepare blanks for roll forming.

Not only do fiber lasers save time, they also reduce scraps thanks to their high-precision performance, producing clean-cut edges and eliminating additional costs such as those associated with burring. Typical AIC lead times range from two to four weeks.

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Allowing for lower costs, improved efficiency, and reduced waste, our new FiberCAB 44 laser cutting system is proving highly effective for reducing project lead times — putting reliable, top-quality solutions into clients’ hands faster than ever before.

Ready to discuss how AIC can help improve your product quality and bottom line? Request a quote from our specialists today to learn more.


The Difference Between Hot and Cold Rolled Steel

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To meet unique application needs, there are many different types of steel available, in various shapes, sizes, and finishes. Fully understanding the unique properties and benefits of each type can allow for significant time and cost savings while helping to ensure optimal quality and performance of the end product.

Cold rolled steel and hot rolled steel, in particular, offer different features and benefits, and are best-suited to different applications and industries. The main difference between cold rolled steel and hot rolled steel is the manufacturing process involved in forming each of them.

Download our free guide to compare, contrast and evaluate cold rolled steel by grades, composition and applications below:

Material Selection Guide - Cold Rolled Steel

Cold Rolled Steel

Cold rolled steel is essentially hot rolled steel that has undergone further processing. When hot rolled steel cools, it is rerolled at room temperature. Strain hardening — by as much as 20% — increases the strength of the final product and ensures a smooth finish. The cold roll process creates steel that is stronger and harder than hot rolled steel, and allows for more exact dimensions. For instance, bars are truly square, with more precise edges and corners. Tubes also have better straightness, and exhibit superior concentricity and uniformity properties.

However, this also means cold rolled steel is limited to only a few shapes, such as round or square. Shaping operations — such as sizing, breakdown, semi-roughing, semi-finishing, and roughing — can create bars, rods, strips, and sheets that are typically smaller than hot rolled products. Cold rolled steel should be used for products requiring optimal durability and tolerance levels.

Hot Rolled Steel

The hot rolled steel process occurs at temperatures over 1,000 °F, which is above the recrystallization temperature for most types of steel. The steel reconfigures itself during cooling, giving it a looser tolerance than the original material. This forming process makes products easier to work with, as the malleability of hot rolled steel allows it to be formed into many different shapes.

Hot rolled steel can also be made in much larger sizes than cold rolled steel. And since reheating the steel is not required, hot rolled steel is generally cheaper than cold rolled steel. Hot rolled steel is ideal for applications in which exact shapes are not required; the steel shrinks when it cools, so there is less control over the size and shape of the finished product.

Hot rolled steel bars can be used in welding and construction applications for I-beams or simple cross-sections like train tracks. The hot roll process is also often used to produce sheet metal.

Hot rolled steel products often have scaled surfaces caused by the cooling down from extreme temperatures. If this presents a problem, scaling can be removed with grinding, blasting, or acid-bath pickling processes. The cooling may also result in slightly trapezoidal forms, which can lead to slight angle distortions. On bar and plate products, slightly rounded edges and corners may also occur.

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Understanding the unique features and benefits offered by cold rolled steel and hot rolled steel is hugely helpful in determining which process and material will work best for your specific needs.

With more than 35 years of experience in precision metal stamping and assemblies, American Industrial Co. is proud to offer precision metal stamping services for a wide range of industries and applications. To learn more about hot and cold steel rolling and discuss how we can help with your unique application, reach out to the team today.

Download our free guide to compare, contrast and evaluate cold rolled steel by grades, composition and applications below:

Material Selection Guide - Cold Rolled Steel


Metal Stamping Quality Control

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When selecting metal formed parts, it’s critical to partner with a reliable, knowledgeable manufacturer who employs comprehensive quality assurance processes. This will help ensure you receive the highest-quality metal formed parts available, without the need for frequent maintenance or costly downtime.

At American Industrial Corporation (AIC), we aim to provide industry-leading quality assurance throughout every aspect of the metal stamping process, beginning with preproduction, continuing through operations, and culminating in final inspection and shipment.

As part of this commitment to quality, we maintain the most up-to-date, cutting-edge equipment. Our team regularly inspects machinery and conducts thorough product inspections to guarantee all parts are made to exact client specifications. We also take great care in sourcing and selecting our materials, and bring unparalleled precision to our metal fabrication services.

AIC’s Commitment to Quality Control

AIC achieves stringent quality control through constant monitoring of production processes, allowing our workers to detect problems early and rectify them immediately, before serious issues occur.

Our metal stamped parts are held to stringent, industry-specific standards, which we easily meet and exceed through the utilization of sophisticated automated inspection tools — including in-die sensors and Micru Vu inspection systems — that provide instantaneous measurements.

These tools also allow records to be transmitted throughout the entire manufacturing process in order to detect variances and rectify them in real-time.

Precision Metal Forming Services Offered by AIC

The team at AIC is proud to offer a wide range of precision metal forming processes, and we are known throughout the industry for the top-quality components we produce.

Serving all types of industrial applications, we provide a wide range of services: forming and bending, progressive die stamping, blanking, piercing, shallow draw, coining, laser cutting, deburring, finishing, machining, and welding and additional secondary services.

All precision metal stamping services are performed with comprehensive monitoring, and thorough inspection of parts ensures optimal quality and accuracy. Finally, accountability testing and a lean manufacturing environment allow for streamlined, efficient operations — keeping turnarounds short and consistency high.

AIC’s ISO Certification

In 2017, AIC earned ISO 9001:2015 certification to further ensure all our products and services meet strict customer as well as the stringent regulatory requirements established by the global standards board.

ISO 9001 certification guarantees customers will receive high-quality products and services while also ensuring our company’s management and employees reap the benefits of a better-organized, safer, and cleaner workplace geared toward continuous improvement.

This certification positions AIC as an industry leader in precision metal stamping and clearly illustrates our commitment to ongoing improvement and enhanced quality assurance.

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Our ISO certification is available to download for your records. Please contact us with any questions you may have.

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How Metal Stamping Can Impact Your Bottom Line

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If you’re looking to increase your bottom line without sacrificing the quality of your product, consider metal stamping. To create new components, stamping presses transform metal blanks into desired shapes through the use of a tool and die. With a variety of modifications, metal stamping can create numerous shapes for your product, giving you greater versatility. It also offers a number of benefits including reduced product costs, shorter production time, and extended product lifespans.

To maximize metal stamping’s impact on your bottom line, here are some helpful tips:

1.      Reach out to your metal stamper early in the process

Getting your stamper involved from the start can save you considerable time and money later on. Often, there is a disconnect between the manufacturer’s envisioned design and what the stamping engineer can actually do within the limitations of metal stamping. If the manufacturer and metal stamper collaborate together early, however, they can eliminate such disparities and make improvements to optimize the design –– ultimately saving you production time and money.

2.      Forecast your requirements & Reduce costs

It’s important to share with your metal stamper your assembly process, projected volumes, release dates, and lead times for your product. If they have as much information as possible upfront, metal stampers can ensure a smoother production process from start to finish. For example, they may be able to redesign the stamp to reduce costs and streamline manufacturing.

Since production volume directly impacts costs, be sure to let the stamper know the volume at which you plan to produce the parts. In addition, providing your expected lead time can remove the need for rush jobs and build in time for extra review, modification, and production changes — eliminating extra costs.

3.      Assess the dimension for final assembly

Knowing exactly how a single part will fit into the overall design is very important when assessing your project budget. If you provide accurate dimensions for your part’s assembly, the metal stamper may be able to use in-die assemblies that can eliminate unnecessary manufacturing steps, reduce labor and production costs, and speed up the time to market.

4.      Evaluate simulations and prototypes

Be sure to test the design and functionality of your product before fully launching its production. Metal stampers have the ability to create prototypes and simulations that test how well the designed product will perform under certain conditions. If you find problems or issues, you’ll then be able to adjust the design to improve the product’s durability and function, as well as optimize its production. By using these simulations and prototypes, you can perfect your design before wasting any valuable time or resources in making something that won’t actually work.

Metal Stamping from American Industrial

At American Industrial Company, we specialize in complete turnkey packages, from prototype design to completed precision metal stampings, for companies worldwide. To learn more helpful tips from our dedicated staff or to see how we can help with your next project, please submit our contact form for more information.


AIC Earns ISO 9001:2015 Certification

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American Industrial Co. (AIC) is thrilled to announce that we are now ISO 9001:2015 certified. A global standard that dictates requirements for effective quality management systems (QMS), its primary purpose is to assist companies in developing efficient processes that ensure products and services consistently meet customer and regulatory requirements.

ISO 9001 provides a process-oriented approach to documenting and reviewing the structure, responsibilities, and procedures required for organizations to implement successful quality management. Specific topics include documenting a quality manual and determining process interactions, the responsibilities of management, management of resources including human resources and work environment, product realization from design to delivery, and how the organization uses internal audits and corrective actions and risk management to measure, analyze, and improve its QMS.

ISO 9001 certification gives customers peace of mind that they’ll be provided with high-quality products and services, while management and employees also reap the rewards of a better organized, safer, and cleaner workplace geared toward continual improvement. The new, revised version of ISO 9001 puts greater emphasis on leadership engagement and creates more structure for addressing and managing risks as well as identifying opportunities for improvement. Its use of simplified, easy-to-understand language is particularly useful for businesses using multiple management systems or those involved in knowledge- or service-based sectors. The updated standard also more effectively addresses supply chain management and takes into account the increasingly connected, globalized marketplace.

As an industry-leading precision metal stamper, the team at American Industrial is committed to continual improvement in everything we do. We sought out the revised ISO 9001 certification in order to provide customers with the best products and services available, with the most stringent possible quality assurance.

To view our new ISO 9001:2015 certification, download a copy today, and feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have regarding this certification or our quality management practices in general.


Three Metal Stamping Trends to Look Out For in 2017

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Thanks to several innovative technological developments, the metal stamping industry has seen steady growth. Advancements in robotics, automation, and numerical controls have all helped improve stamping precision and speed, while virtually eliminating setup time.

Metal-Stamping-Trends-2017With rising global consumer demand, the industry is expected to continue riding this growth wave through 2017. Here are three major trends you can expect to see in the coming year.

  1. Reshoring and the Growth of Manufacturing in America

You’ve probably heard about the surging reshoring trend in American manufacturing; after decades of outsourcing production and contract manufacturing, many companies are now considering the financial benefits of moving their operations back to the United States.

Today, reshoring actually results in a higher total cost of ownership than domestic production — despite the higher labor costs at home. Advanced automation techniques will allow the precision metal stamping industry to easily take advantage of the various business opportunities that will soon be sprouting up as more OEMs reshore their operations.

  1. The Rise of Solar Paneling

Significant price drops for photovoltaic (PV) systems have made solar power much more popular. Not only can metal stamping companies benefit from the energy costs savings and federal tax credits associated with switching to solar, but they are also uniquely positioned to service this growing industry; PV installations require many kinds of precision machined parts to support the metal panel frames.

  1. Integrating Automation in Production

Automation integration yields a two-fold benefit for manufacturing companies: higher production rates at lower costs. Utilizing advanced equipment such as laser cutters offers metal stampers unparalleled precision and speed for optimized production. Meanwhile, implementing robotics for repetitive tasks lowers the headcount in the shop while freeing up skilled machinists to take on more challenging work, such as programming.

Want to Learn More?

To get the full rundown on reshoring, solar paneling, and automation integration, as well as what these trends mean for the metal stamping industry, download a free copy of our eBook, “Trends Report: What to Expect in Metal Stamping for 2017.”

2017 METAL STAMPING TRENDS REPORT

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METAL STAMPING TRENDS


America’s Renewed Focus on Manufacturing

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Over the past several years, the American manufacturing industry has seen significant shifts with new initiatives in place to propel small businesses and independent manufacturers forward on both a national and global scale. While new resources and better information are helping manufacturers succeed, many businesses — particularly smaller ones — are also actively tapping into new, innovative marketing opportunities to increase exposure. (more…)


Metal Stamping in Aftermarket Auto Part Manufacturing

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While the automotive aftermarket is just one step of a lengthy development and sales process, it is in itself a diverse field, encompassing everything from entertainment features and accessories to replacement parts and car servicing.

metal-stamping-aftermarket-auto-part-manufacturingAs the industry shifts, various automotive aftermarket industry trends are emerging. For instance, within the B2C auto aftermarket, sales are shifting from traditional methods to e-commerce. Direct selling — from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to consumers — is also becoming more common.

Aftermarket car parts manufacturers, such as automotive metal stamping companies — and the garages, service centers, and fleets they sell to — are also part of this shift; as B2C sales shift toward e-commerce, so too do B2B sales.

Get an Inside Look Automotive Aftermarket Infographic

Finally, factors such as vehicle lifespan and improved quality of aftermarket car parts are allowing the automotive aftermarket industry to grow.

The market will continue to shift as digital service aggregation becomes more prevalent, integrating B2B and B2C business models and allowing consumers to easily connect with suppliers to procure aftermarket auto body parts and accessories through third-party aggregators.

Popular Aftermarket Auto Parts

At American Industrial Company, we can produce a wide range of aftermarket auto parts, from small prototypes to high volumes of complex parts.

For instance, one of our clients required a part that would safely secure an automotive floor mat. We formed a cold rolled steel (CRS) bracket utilizing cold tooling and created the profile on a press brake. To provide strength cost-effectively, we then utilized spot welding for the assembly.

After a quality check, the bracket components were zinc and clear chromate plated to prevent rust and corrosion. All of the brackets were produced well within the ±0.010 inch tolerance requirement.

These types of brackets are among the most common aftermarket parts requested from automotive metal stamping companies. Steering wheel spokes and other components, horn buttons, and rearview mirror mounting plates are also common, as well as motorcycle parts, such as GPS mounting plates, motor mounts, foot pegs, and bearing retainers. These parts and accessories can be made from various materials, including cold rolled steel, stainless steel, aluminum, etc.

Metal stamping and automotive metal fabrication companies are particularly well-equipped to handle the diverse demands of the automotive aftermarket, as state-of-the-art equipment can produce parts with great precision and accuracy, handling mass-market-sized runs efficiently and inexpensively. Many manufacturers also offer comprehensive value-added services, such as heat treating, finishing, and painting.

How We Help Automotive Aftermarket Companies

As the industry shifts, it becomes increasingly important to keep up with automotive aftermarket news and trends. American Industrial Company — a family-owned business specializing in precision metal stamping and laser cutting — is here to help you find the right approach for your next project.

To learn more about how metal stampers can help you with your automotive aftermarket needs, download our free automotive aftermarket infographic.


3 Steps to Sourcing Materials for Manufacturing

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Sourcing materials is essential to ensuring a project runs smoothly and cost-effectively. Vendor qualification serves as an important step to ensuring a successful sourcing process. Each project requires a different set of standards and can determine a vendor’s ability to match your needs. For example, your thermoforming vendor will be quite different from your precision metal stamping vendor.

material sourcingBy qualifying vendors, a company gains product and service consistency to its desired requirements. Going forward, they also have a tried-and-true choice to source materials from.

1. Set a process

Initiating and maintaining a process for vendor sourcing allows for consistency and proper analysis of vendor selection each time. First determine material specifications. Know what your goals are and be able to interpret these to the potential vendor. This will allow you to properly evaluate the validity of a sourcing partnership.

Next, establish fee restrictions, as well as any service requirements. Once you evaluate risk, set up and send out questionnaires to potential vendors. Within these steps, material failure evaluation is crucial. Understanding the risk associated with a vendor and their supplied materials helps prevent catastrophic failures in manufacturing.

2. Customize a questionnaire

Beyond the general and informative questions, include questions that are specific to the type of vendor you are looking for. A customized questionnaire will help to ask questions specific to the manufacturing process that could impact your project’s timeline.

While it’s great to get specific with your questions, avoid invasive questions. Asking about a manufacturer’s backend finances may deter the vendor from completing the qualification questionnaire. Treat the questionnaire as an introduction to what vendors can expect from working with your sourcing company.

3. Track and EvaluateMetal Stamper Must-Haves

If you have a set process and questionnaire in place, it only makes sense to have a set evaluation process, as well.

Recording capabilities, certifications, quality assurance, equipment, referrals and more lets you put the data side-by-side. Each candidate will have to stack up to your standards at the very least, with one prevailing above the rest as the vendor for your project.

As metal stamping experts, our staff at American Industrial Company created a helpful guide for choosing a metal stamper. Access our Metal Stamper Must-Haves Guide for useful information on sourcing companies and vendor selection. For more on selecting the right vendor, especially for metal stamping, get in touch with our team today.

 

 

 

 


Let’s Work Together: A Message from Dave Dunn to Injection Molders

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One of our most important goals is to grow our business — I’m sure that’s one of your goals, too. Every business wants to grow, but what’s the best way to make it happen? In the case of metal stampers and injection molders, the answer is very simple: Let’s work together. If we pool our resources, we can get more done by better serving our customers as we expand our businesses.

Meeting the Challenge

Many of today’s most highly sought-after components contain metal, plastic, and rubber elements. At American Industrial Company, we want to forge partnerships with injection molding companies to give our clients complete turnkey solutions for their toughest projects. Working together not only helps our mutual businesses to grow, but it also provides our customers with convenient solutions that are completed in one go.

Latch AssemblyWe’ve already tried this solution, and we know it works. Take our recent latch assembly project, for example. We put all of our capabilities to the test to fulfill our customer’s specifications — but the work didn’t stop there. A partner in the injection molding field then manufactured the rubber component to fully complete the client’s part.

We all know the frustration that comes from turning down jobs because they require capabilities we can’t provide. For example, as a metal stamping company, we can’t help clients who need injection molding and metal stamping for the same part without engaging in a partnership. It’s the same for rubber and plastic companies without in-house metal stamping — a customer may need a part that is both injection-molded and stamped. Without metal stamping skills or a partnership, the potential business opportunity has to be turned down.

Working togetherJoining forces through partnerships doesn’t just benefit our customers and our businesses; it also helps American manufacturing to grow. As our company expands, we are proud to bring more manufacturing jobs to Chicago and beyond. Bringing our resources together will help us to do this — and will help to improve our local economy, job by job.

Help Us Do More, Together

Do you want to expand your business capabilities and reach new clientele at the same time? You can help by uniting your talents with ours.

American Industrial is looking for an injection molder in the Midwestern region to join our Injection Molders Partnership Program. Let’s work together to help more clients. Contact us today for more information or to apply.

Join American Industrial's Injection Molders Partnership Program

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