FOCUS ON FABRICATION
What should you look for when sourcing large sheet metal enclosures ? Here are some pointers to keep in mind for your next project .
“ Choosing the right partner , who is willing to share its years of experience for your project , is essential .”
Sheet metal enclosures come in all shapes and sizes . It ’ s the larger ones , however , that can sometimes cause designers and manufacturers the most grief . Many challenges come with designing and manufacturing large structures . Without reinforcement , the walls and ceiling tend to bow . Moving them around when complete is next to impossible , so building large structures near their final home is a good idea . Duct tape and glue only go so far at holding it all together , so sound joining techniques are essential . It ’ s arduous work , even for the craftiest kids on the block .
Similar statements can be made about super-sized custom metal fabrications . These include data centre solutions such as server racks and cabinets . There are steel enclosures for fibre optics , battery storage and edge-
computing hardware . Retail kiosks and ATMs are common in this sector , as are OCP ( open compute project ) solutions . These , and other custom sheet metal enclosures , serve many critical industrial applications .
It is essential to recognize that , no matter how good your design is , not all manufacturers are up to the task .
High-tech manufacturing and automated processes
The fabrication of large sheet metal enclosures comes with unique challenges as opposed to smaller part production . For
Sheet metal enclosures ( TRUMPF ).
example , the panels on the sides and backs of fabricated enclosures are often too large to bend on a press brake or require multiple operators ( more labour costs ). An alternative would be to use a panel bender , which allows the metal sheet to lie flat during processing for a high-quality bend .
Integrated sheet metal automation is another essential capability to keep in mind . Robotic welding helps to reduce fabricating costs , as do automated material handling systems such as conveyors and sheet loaders . These also improve working conditions , eliminating the risk of injury when handling large steel , aluminium and stainless-steel sheets .
Capabilities , such as in-floor lifting systems or cranes , bring the work to those performing operations in the factory like spot welding ; riveting ; buffing and polishing ; and final assembly . These automated systems help to make the manufacturing process more efficient , giving customers highquality products .
HVAC enclosure ( Shutterstock . com ).
Speed and flexibility
Of course , not all sheet metal fabrication is automated . Skilled workers will always need to operate a variety of high-tech machinery . Press brakes are also used to bend the shelves ,
38 | sheetmetalplus . com | ISMR June 2022