Business Consolidation Brings Sheet Metal Fabrication to a Higher Level
The expanded resources of a precision sheet metal fabricator include an engineering staff that works collaboratively with customers to solve design and manufacturing issues.
In March 2003, two prominent Orange County, California businesses - Strever Assembly and Fabrication (SAF) Corporation and Applied Material Technologies, Inc. (AMT) - consolidated their manufacturing operations into a single new location in Fountain Valley, California. Bearing the new name of FabCor Precision Sheet Metal Fabrication, the consolidated operation merges the precision sheet metal manufacturing capabilities of SAF with the engineering, design, and testing services of AMT. The result is a full-service manufacturing and laser cutting job shop with capabilities that far exceed those of standard sheet metal fabrication shops. "We're a one-stop shop for design, prototyping, production, and assembly," says Lisa Monn, FabCor's vice president of business management.
FabCor uses CNC equipment, designed to meet tolerances of ± 0.005 inch, to cut, punch, form, and assemble precision sheet metal parts for applications in diverse industries, including power management, recreational products, and automotive. However, the parts manufactured by FabCor are also used in many other markets that require forming and assembly of precise metal components.
"Parts manufactured and assembled by FabCor are being used today for numerous aerospace applications [including transport aircraft of a major aircraft manufacturer]," says Gabriel Corbett, a mechanical engineer and the firm's vice president of business development. "FabCor continually manufactures production parts for customers that assemble data processing equipment, electronics for avionics applications, and fitness equipment."
The company produces the parts to customer prints and specifications, using materials ranging from aluminum to stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, copper, brass, and other metals. Craftsmanship of skilled professionals is evident in the firm's innovative tool designs for achieving precise dimensions and unique shapes. It is also seen in the details of making proper adjustments to machine setups to account for material deformation in forming. The effective combination of talent and attention to detail is a key reason why FabCor is capable of meeting tolerances within ± 0.005 inch on flat patterns and ± 0.010 for formed dimensions. "Tighter tolerances can be achieved with specialized tooling," Corbett adds.
Sharing the new facilities substantially reduces overhead costs and enables FabCor to take full advantage of the synergies existing between the precision sheet metal and the engineering services operations. In addition to precision sheet metal fabrication and assembly (including electronics integration with enclosures), FabCor offers services in design and engineering, CNC punching, shearing, forming, and rolling. Machining, drilling, tapping, and welding, including aluminum spot welding, are also offered.
FabCor's parent company is Applied Material Technologies, a provider of engineering, design, and testing services since 1985. AMT contributes a solid array of value-added services to FabCor, including mechanical and electrical assembly, design, CAD/CAM, finite element analysis, manufacturing problem solving, and component testing. Strever Assembly and Fabrication, in business for 28 years, brings to FabCor highly developed capabilities in precision sheet metal fabrication of components used in the aerospace, electronics, and medical industries. Among FabCor's key personnel are multiple Class A sheet metal mechanics and a shop foreman who has been with SAF since its inception in 1976. "The shop personnel, individually, have a minimum of 10 years of experience in precision sheet metal manufacturing," says Monn.
One of the firm's most valuable resources is an engineering and design staff that supports the latest software and can work collaboratively with customers to develop unique solutions to design and manufacturing problems. For more than 20 years, the firm's engineering staff has supported the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and NASA on critical design projects. Lately, the company has been integrating into its operations a new design computer with advanced software, including SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Cosmos/DesignSTAR, Master CAM, and SMP. The new capabilities enable FabCor to design a product, run a finite element analysis (FEA) on the parts, and then program the parts to be manufactured, all on one machine. "The use of finite element analysis can dramatically help the design process," says Monn. "We can now analyze the stress points, thermal condition, and problem areas of a part before it is made."
FabCor's fleet of equipment includes CNC turret punch presses, shears, and CNC press brakes, as well as machinery for MIG and TIG welding, spot welding, sawing, and hardware insertion and assembly. FabCor recently expanded its machine shop with two new CNC machines; capital acquisition plans for 2004 include the purchase of a CNC turning center with automatic bar stock feeder, and a CNC vertical machining center.
FabCor also provides laser cutting with a Mitsubishi 2512 LXP CNC Laser Cutting Machine with automated pallet shifter and 2kw continuous wave CO2 laser with 3 kw pulsing capability which allows cutting through almost any material with 100% accuracy. They are able to cut small holes and etch parts without secondary operations or edge clean-up - which results in more precise parts in less time than traditional processing.
The company has recently upgraded to the new ISO 9000:2001 Quality Management System Standard.
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