D+M Metal is located in the Grand Rapids area of West Michigan which has been nationally known as a furniture making hub for over 140 years. We are proud to contribute to the tradition of making office furniture.
Grand Rapids rather serendipitously became the center of furniture making in America. There were other cities in the United States and in Michigan that had ready access to forest resources and rivers, but this is where the right resources and the right people came together. The rapids that the city is named for transported logs and supplied power to sawmills in the city. Woodworking was a natural outcome of the lumber generated by those mills.
The Furniture City story begins with William Haldane who came to Michigan from Ohio and opened a cabinet shop in 1836 before the small settlement had even incorporated as a village.
By the 1850s, several companies were producing furniture on a greater scale, but Grand Rapids didn’t get on the national and international map for furniture making until the 1870s. A number of companies, including Berkey and Gay, won awards at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, and suddenly people knew about how good furniture made in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was.
By the turn of the century 1900, over 40 furniture companies were in operation mass producing fine wood furniture, including Widdicomb Furniture Company, Baker Furniture Company, Williams-Kimp, and American Seating. Approximately half of the people in the city were then employed in some capacity related to furniture making, either in the factories directly or in sawmills, or paint and varnish companies. Many immigrants coming from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Poland found work this way in their new home.
Today Grand Rapids is still a leading manufacturing center. Steelcase, Haworth, and Herman Miller manufacture office furniture that the entire world buys and uses to get business done.
While once office furniture was largely made of wood, today it’s often made at least partially of metal. Steelcase began in 1912 as the Metal Office Furniture Company, in fact. George Nelson, the head of design at Herman Miller, invented the first modern “Workstation” in 1947 and went on to develop the “Action Office 1” program that revolutionized the office furniture industry by simultaneously streamlining workflow and accommodating workers’ physical and psychological needs.
Many components of modern office furniture are made of metal and need to be fabricated before they can be used to assemble furniture. That is how we fit into the Grand Rapids furniture story. We work with companies in the office furniture industry and fabricate those parts. For example, we make housing for table bases that NuCraft Furniture uses to manufacture tables. We make tubing for chairs made by Grand Rapids Chair as well.
If you need parts for your office furniture project, D+M Metal Products can build products according to your specifications. We can also work with you to develop a product that isn’t completely thought out yet. If you have questions, contact us today. We would be happy to discuss how we can help solve your office furniture need.
In our last blog we talked about the difference between metal fabrication and metal stamping. Some people assume they are the same, but they are not. Another misunderstanding about the industry is the assumption that metal fabrication and welding are interchangeable. This is also not true, although welding is a very important part of metal fabrication. Here we will talk about what welding is and why good welders are so valuable to a metal fabrication shop.
Metal fabrication is “the manufacture of three-dimensional metal parts through different processes such as cutting, bending, and welding” or, more simply, creating a project out of metal. That part can have a stand-alone function, or it can be a component in a larger object. From this definition, you can see that welding is only one aspect of what we do here at D+M Metal Products.
Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal, glass, or thermoplastics together using fusion. These pieces of material must have similar melting points for the welding to be successful at holding them together.
Welders use a number of tools to ply their trade. These include:
Welders work with hot metal, specialty tools, and heavy machinery, so they need to be trained in proper safety guidelines and to use the right safety equipment to prevent injuring themselves or others around them. Welders should have: flame-resistant clothing, an auto-darkening welding helmet, safety goggles, welding gloves, coveralls or a leather apron, heavy work boots, hearing protection, and often a method for fume extraction equipment.
This equipment needs to be used properly which means that the shop should have safety policies defined and communicated to their welders and the welders should be fully trained in how to implement them. Both the provision of equipment and proper training in expectations are necessary for a shop to have a successful safety culture and environment. This is part of the shop’s overall program of quality control.
Welding is a metal forming technique that is necessary in many metal fabrication applications in order to complete work on specific parts or projects. Not all metal fabrication involves welding, but good welders are necessary for any metal fabrication business to operate. The most common types of welding used in metal fabrication shops are MIG and TIG welding, but there are different types of welding, including oxy acetylene and GMAW.
Both welding and metal fabrication use similar processes like assembling and bending. Many welders are able to fabricate, and many fabricators can also weld. Involving welders in the design process and early steps of a project allows them to give input into how the necessary welding can be accomplished and reduce or eliminate any overlooked problems.
At D+M Metal Products we value our team of welders and what they add to our metal fabrication process and output. We are committed to having a safe shop that observes the policies and protocols in our quality control program. We are also happy to invest in our employees when they seek to broaden their skills and abilities, including learning welding techniques. If you would like to become part of our team, please contact us today. We would love to talk with you about our employment opportunities.
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.
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