How Custom Metal Fabrication Can Create a High Quality Prototype

By Todd McGonagle

What Is Custom Metal Fabrication?

Custom metal fabrication is the process of cutting metal, bending metal and then assembling metal for building purposes, such as the construction of structures, machines and prototypes. The metal fabrication process allows a customer to bring their ideas and visions to life through this cutting edge technology and through high-quality, expert craftsmanship. From the conceptualization of the design through custom design services such as digital software and CAD files, to the production of the prototype or final product, ideas are turned into functional realities.

What Is Metal Fabrication Commonly Used For?

Typical projects for metal fabrication include the building of structural frames for new buildings, the structural frames for large and heavy equipment, loose parts, hand railings for a building’s stairs and of course, prototypes. Metal fabrication is commonly used in the following industries:  Aerospace, Automotive, Agriculture, Construction, Energy Sector, Medical, Military and Defense and Electronics.

How Does Custom Metal Fabrication Work?

Digital Design Of Prototypes

Once a fabrication shop has been contracted to build a project, a team of professional, highly-skilled, and highly-trained machinist’s will work diligently to bring ideas to life through the utilization of the latest design capabilities and the latest innovative, revolutionary machine shop technology. Visions become reality using digital software and CAD file capabilities.

CAD programs, also known as computer-aided design programs, provide the manufacturers and machinists with a three-dimensional computer-generated design of the project, which enables manufacturers to identify any potential difficulties or weaknesses prior to the physical production of the prototype.

Assembly of Prototypes

Once the digital designing of the prototype has been completed, the time arrives to build the prototype with machine shop technology. Machine shop technology, such as CNC milling machines and CNC turning centers allow this team of professional machinists to create prototypes with efficiency and extremely accurate precision. Through CNC milling, machinists are able to create simultaneous production, as well as custom work projects.

A large manual machine department is also available for the production of replacement part duplication, custom work and single run projects. Physical production begins with the cutting and burning of metal. Cutting the raw materials is typically performed by shearing, with cutting torches, band saws, laser cutting, etc. Once the raw materials have been cut, it’s time to bend the metal. Bending may be performed manually or mechanically through automation.

When performed mechanically, press brakes are commonly utilized, which allows a machinist to bend a metal sheet into form with accuracy, speed and precision. Assembly of the prototype includes welding and binding. Binding may include the use of adhesives, threaded fasteners, crimped seam and/or riveting. Other materials commonly used throughout the assembly process include:  flux, welding wire, and fasteners. Final assembly often utilizes both human and automation procedures.

Raw materials typically used for the metal fabrication process include but are not limited to:

  • Stainless steel
  • Brass
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Cold Roll Steel
  • Delrin
  • Nylon
  • Tool Steel
  • And more

What Are Prototypes And What Are They Commonly Used For?

A prototype is the produced model of a product, which is built to bring an idea to life and for future models to follow from. Building a prototype allows a designer and manufacturer to test and enhance a new product(s). This sample product will ultimately show whether or not the product is capable of doing what it was designed to do.

Examples of metal fabrication prototypes include:

  • Medical Sterilization Electro polished Welded Cart Frame and Trays
  • High Precision Military Weldment
  • Server Backup Generator Interconnect Assembly
  • Custom Stainless Steel Yogurt Tank
  • Custom Components and Parts
  • Printing Press Console Welded Assembly
  • Automobiles

Learn More or Take Action

To learn more about bringing your ideas and visions to life through custom metal fabrication, contact our professionals and experts today. We, a Central Minnesota metal fabrication business, have been bringing ideas to life and providing high-quality custom metal fabrication services for well over 60 years. We provide state-of-the-art professional machine shop services throughout North America and abroad.

Ickler Prototype Team




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