If you’re not familiar with the various manufacturing processes that go into different consumer goods, you’re not alone. The key to managing a company that brings those goods to market is learning to identify which professionals you need to lean on at every phase of the process, so you get all the parts and materials you need to put together goods that really represent your brand. Often, that means learning about niche B2B services and suppliers the general public never needs to think about. When you’re building goods that have metal parts, a fabrication supplier is often your last resource before assembly. Of course, there are exceptions, and we can talk about those too.
Shaping Your Parts
Metal fabrication is essentially the art of making the parts you need to the specifications your designs call for. Most fabrication operations require stock material be roughly shaped and cut to a certain size before reaching their shop, although some provide additional manufacturing services like extrusion that reduce the number of suppliers you need to finish each part. In a shop that doesn’t have those foundational services, the stock material can be cut, drilled, milled, and otherwise shaped to the quality specs your engineers set, with repeatable QC processes they build collaboratively with each client.
For most internal parts, the fabrication step is the last one before assembly, but if your metal has show surfaces, you might also want to consider brushing, anodizing, or other operations to give it an appealing finish. In many cases, fabrication shops that don’t have those departments in-house do have connections in the location manufacturing community, so don’t be shy about asking for referrals as you build your supply chain. Working with a known quantity is easier for you, and it makes shipping and receiving your parts easier when every company you work with knows the others and has an established relationship.