One of the frequently asked questions metal fabricators get is about the difference between metal stamping and metal fabrication. We will address that question here by defining what metal stamping is and how it differs from metal fabrication. We will also talk about how metal fabrication is a cost effective choice for producing metal parts.
Metal stamping refers to many different metal forming operations, including bending, pressing, punching, stamping, stretching, or flanging a metal piece with a high-tonnage stamping press. These processes use these presses and custom tooling and dies to form a piece of metal into the shape or pattern that is needed. Stamping can be done in separate processes or through multiple stages. Simple parts can be shaped with one press stroke. This is called a single-stage operation. Other parts may take multiple strokes to complete. Metal stamping is usually performed when replicating parts in large batches.
In contrast, metal fabrication involves the manufacture of three-dimensional metal parts through different processes such as cutting, bending, and welding. It usually requires more specialized equipment than metal stamping does, equipment like CNC press brakes, CNC turret presses, CNC laser cutters, and welding. Metal fabrication is often a less expensive option for producing parts in smaller quantities because it doesn’t require custom tooling. It’s also more flexible in terms of design modifications because no tooling needs to be changed if the part design needs to be changed.
There are multiple advantages to metal fabrication. These include:
At D+M Metal Products we pride ourselves on the excellence of our metal fabrication capacity. We have an impressive number and variety of machines that allow us to meet our customers’ needs as well as a wide variety of standard tooling that allows us to minimize tooling costs. We have been serving businesses in West Michigan and throughout the United States since 1946, providing the parts manufacturing they need. We are ISO 9001:2015 certified and committed to producing the highest quality parts possible for our customers. If you have questions about metal fabrication, please call us. We would be happy to answer them and talk to you about how we can help you with your parts manufacturing needs.
In a previous blog, we discussed the fact that D+M Metal has a core value of building relationships. We believe that this makes us a better company to do business with and for. We also believe that communication is greatly enhanced between people who understand and respect each other, so in 2020 we are adding an additional focus on team building among our workforce.
All industries run on cooperation between workers, but manufacturing has its own challenges. Production demand, a continuous emphasis on quality control, standardized work, endless regulation, and the effects of changes in politics and trade put stress on workers and the relationship between management and employees. It’s tricky to maintain the same quality and output when many of the inputs into the system are in regular flux. It requires excellent management and communication.
When workers know each other well, interact regularly with each other, and build relationships, a much greater trust and understanding is possible within the workplace. If communication is poor, resentments build, and negativity festers, and productivity lags. At D+M Metal our mission is “to develop and use our talents and resources to provide superior products and services while establishing long-term relationships with our customers, suppliers, and community.”
Technology has been a huge boom for manufacturing and our economy, but it has its downsides as well. One of the problems within today’s workspaces is that people are much isolated from each other because of technology. Once, before the age of mobile phones, workers spent time talking and interacting with each other on breaks or at lunch. They made friends at work who became friends outside of work. Those relationships helped them navigate both parts of their lives. Now too many of us are on our devices all of the time and do not pay attention to each other until we have to for our jobs.
Fostering a team mentality can help mitigate the effects of this isolation. We believe that focusing on team building will help us to develop and use our talents and resources because our workforce is our best resource and asset. We also hope that by building teams that work for and with each other, we will be able to encourage our employees to show initiative.
D+M Metal Products is always seeking motivated and proactive employees. We want workers who think for themselves and take steps to improve their skills and abilities. Team building works to encourage ideas, initiative and leadership. It leads to more opportunities and overall improvement. It also increases overall happiness and satisfaction. These are all goals for us both as a metal fabrication company and as individuals in a world that is changing all the time.
Andy Balaskovitz highlighted D+M Metal Products in a MiBiz article about changing requirements in the workplace due to the coronavirus. The State of Michigan is reopening our economy in phases and requiring that employers implement safety measures designed to ensure that workers are protected. Included in those measures are workplace health screenings.
D+M Metal never closed due to the pandemic. We were designated an essential business early on due to the fact that we make parts necessary for a variety of useful products, including ones produced in the healthcare sector. However, that doesn’t mean that it was “business as usual” for us. In the past 70 days we have transitioned our plant and our processes to keep workers as safe as possible while they do their jobs and become compliant with executive orders Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed when she allowed the manufacturing sector to reopen. Executive Order 2020-77 mandates that manufacturers:
“[C]onduct a daily entry screening protocol for workers, contractors, suppliers, and any other individuals entering a worksite, including a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19, together with, if possible, a temperature screening.”
We are meeting this requirement for workplace health screenings by staggering when our workers arrive so that they can take time to answer the questionnaire. They enter our building during one of our four shifts between 5:30 and 7:30 AM, and they must report how they are feeling as well as have their temperatures checked. It’s a very brief process. Limiting how many people are on one shift removes the potential for bottlenecks during arrivals.
What do we do with the data we collect? We send it to local health officials in hopes that they will use it to track, predict, and prevent future outbreaks of coronavirus so that health and society will be protected. None of the data we submit contains identifying information.
We are participating in this program with Meijer, Cascade Engineering, and many other Kent County businesses. The work that has been done to make the health screenings quick, simple, and painless is a help to smaller businesses like D+M Metal that do not have the time or the resources to create health screenings from scratch.
Gov. Whitmer opened up two large geographical sections of Michigan for retail and hospitality last week. Many people believe that West Michigan can’t be too far behind, especially with the numbers of new cases and hospitalizations dropping. However, reopening will have complications too. In the beginning of this pandemic, no one knew what we’re dealing with, but, as time has passed, it’s easier to understand what it means for individuals and also businesses.
It’s likely that we will see safety precautions implemented and continued into 2021. Some of them may change. Daily health screenings may not be necessary after some time has passed, or they might temporarily disappear and then return later, such as in the fall and winter.
Challenging or not, these changes seem to be here to stay for now. It’s been our experience that health screenings and other cautionary measures can be implemented without too much workplace disruption. These problems can be solved, it just takes patience and perseverance. We would like to thank Andy Balaskovitz for taking the time to interview us and include our experience in his article about West Michigan businesses tackling the coronavirus.
D+M Metal Products has been especially busy since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fabricating parts that are incorporated into cleanroom products, healthcare technology, and other very necessary items. We’ve also been busy making parts for conveyor systems that are used in the fulfillment economy. Since the lockdowns have been put into place around the country, people have been more dependent on delivered goods from companies like Amazon. Those goods are sorted and shipped using conveyor technology, and conveyors run using fabricated parts we make here.
The demand for goods ordered online and delivered to customers’ front doors isn’t new. It’s been ramping up for years. Amazon, in fact, has been focused on expanding its delivery network for some time, trying to compete with UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service. Amazon has customers nationwide, but they don’t yet have the permanent facilities necessary to complete their network. So in a number of American cities they have erected enormous tents like the ones you see at carnivals. These serve as delivery stations - the last leg of each package’s journey. Inside workers sort products, pack boxes, and use long conveyor belts to get them from sorting area to truck and on to their final destinations.
Many other businesses besides Amazon rely on conveyors in their material handling systems too. Americans are used to going to the store and choosing their own products and then taking them home on their own. The new online ordering model means that many diverse products need to be shipped and received from different vendors and then sorted and organized and boxed up in regional service centers for individual customers. This process requires different equipment that will become more prevalent and necessary as the fulfillment model of shopping overtakes the one we are used to.
Conveyor technology is relatively straightforward, but there are many types of conveyors, and they all have different parts. We are currently manufacturing conveyor side rails. These hold rollers in place. We also make leg pieces. These get bolted to the floor to keep the conveyor built upright and in place.
D+M Metal Products works with our customers to supply what they need when they need it, whether that means parts for in-store displays, the healthcare sector, or the fulfillment economy. Because our products are small parts of greater wholes, they aren’t often recognizable as their own products. They are still vital for the product they augment to function properly, though. If your company needs fabricated parts for any purpose, please call us. We will be happy to discuss what we can do for your business.
It’s a challenging time right now for all of us with the COVID-19 pandemic, but D+M Metal Products is still on the job, helping to keep essential businesses operating. While the public has a responsibility to stay at home and maintain a distance from friends and relatives to avoid the greater spread of the coronavirus, the manufacturing sector is working hard. We are providing companies with the products they need to function. This includes companies in the healthcare sector.
As a metal fabricator, D+M Metal does not usually manufacture entire products. The parts that we make go into larger items that people see or use all of the time. Some of these parts are incorporated into healthcare technology, patient monitoring, and clean room products. All of these are in high demand right now.
In recent days we’ve seen the grocery store shelves emptied of bleach and disinfectant wipes, but, unfortunately, chemical germ fighting is not very effective. We can’t see the germs we miss, and they can remain active on various surfaces for days. It’s very difficult, even for motivated and careful workers to completely sanitize everything.
One metro Grand Rapids company has a unique solution to combat bacteria and viruses that cause disease, including the coronavirus. Skytron developed a robot called the IPT 3000 that emits ultraviolet light. These rays function to short circuit viruses’ DNA so it cannot replicate itself. This is called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. Sensors on the IPT 3000 determine how much UV light to emit and how long it must be in operation. This takes the guesswork out of using it for workers.
Hospitals and other area medical facilities have been using this technology for about a decade, but it’s also effective at destroying germs and bacteria in places like schools and prisons. For the safety of the public, however, it must be used only when there is no one present and certain safety precautions are taken.
This week Spectrum health announced that it will be using UV light to disinfect personal protective equipment like goggles, face shields, and other hard-surface items. They are also investigating whether they can use the same technology on masks so that they can be used repeatedly under current shortage conditions.
Many of our customers have been identified as Critical Infrastructure Business and have identified D+M Metal Products as an essential supplier which provides us with the same status. We are very busy at the current time filling orders from companies that need fabricated parts for medical equipment, air purification devices, and other manufactured products. We are communicating to our workers what to do to maintain hygiene and safety and taking measures to protect them so that they can do their jobs.
We know that the pandemic will not last forever, and the entire economy, including manufacturing, will go back to a more normal state. If you are a current customer or need fabricated parts, please contact us about your needs. We know that there are challenges now and will be more later, and we want to work with you and make sure we know your situation. Building and maintaining relationships with our customers, suppliers, and workers is part of our mission, and it’s how we do business.
To everyone out there doing their part to fight the coronavirus pandemic, stay safe and be well. Our best wishes go out to you and your loved ones.
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