Heavy Steel Part Fabrication

Heavy Steel Part Fabrication

Laser cut, bent, and welded steel parts to be light post adapters for civic utility use.

 

If you look close there is a great edge finish on the 3/4" plate off our HK Laser

If you look close there is a great edge finish on the 3/4" plate off our HK Laser

Nothing much to say about this photo other than it's an arty photo of our Fronius welding equipment and one of our super skilled welders. 

Nothing much to say about this photo other than it's an arty photo of our Fronius welding equipment and one of our super skilled welders. 

Below is a video of the part being welded. In the middle of the weld you'll notice there is almost no noise and no spatter which is a great thing!   This means that the program we have for the welder to weld 10g plate to 3/4" plate is almost perfect. 

New Deburing Machine

Our new de-buring machine has arrived!  This machine takes flat parts that are cut on other machines and breaks the sharp edge.  It can also get rid of slag or burrs that are produced during the cutting process.

The machine can also refinish the surface of the material to give it a brushed finish. 

 

Here is an overall view of the machine from HK Laser & Systems.  Even though Lean Machine's official color is red, we are starting to get a lot of blue in the shop! 

Here is an overall view of the machine from HK Laser & Systems.  Even though Lean Machine's official color is red, we are starting to get a lot of blue in the shop! 

Here inside the machine you can see that large brushes spin and the entire assembly rotates depending on the setting you choose for grain direction, etc. 

Here inside the machine you can see that large brushes spin and the entire assembly rotates depending on the setting you choose for grain direction, etc. 

Here is an aluminum laser cut part about to be fed into the machine.  Laser cutting aluminum usually leaves a burr all of the way around the cut edges.  A part such as this could take someone approximately 2 minutes to debur properly. The small holes you see in the conveyor are actually vacuum ports which help to hold the part in place while the brushes do their work. 

Here is an aluminum laser cut part about to be fed into the machine.  Laser cutting aluminum usually leaves a burr all of the way around the cut edges.  A part such as this could take someone approximately 2 minutes to debur properly. The small holes you see in the conveyor are actually vacuum ports which help to hold the part in place while the brushes do their work. 

Here is a view of the brushes about to do their work on the part!   The shape of the "fingers" on the brushes makes sure that the inside of every hole and cutout are well looked after.

Here is a view of the brushes about to do their work on the part!   The shape of the "fingers" on the brushes makes sure that the inside of every hole and cutout are well looked after.

The finished part exiting the machine is completely free of burrs and sharp edges.  You'll also notice the large surface of the part has received a slight brushed finish which helps eliminate small scratches on the surface of the part. 

The finished part exiting the machine is completely free of burrs and sharp edges.  You'll also notice the large surface of the part has received a slight brushed finish which helps eliminate small scratches on the surface of the part. 

Compressor shed turns into high tech wind tunnel project

Compressor shed turns into high tech wind tunnel project

We have yet to visit a manufacturing facility (including ours) that does not have a problem with equipment overheating.  Compressor and vacuum pumps are definitely the worst for overheating as they run constantly and under full load conditions.  It is ideal to keep a noisy compressor outside of the main plant, but protecting the compressor from the elements means possible overheating as it is difficult to build a big enough shed to handle the heat load. Rather than go buy a large sea can or simply build a larger housing, we decided to design and build our very own wind tunnel.   

If you are driving by our plant you may notice the new compressor structure off the back of the building. The base is made of steel so the entire structure can be moved easily for future expansion.  The bottom side of the steel base has 8" of spray foam insulation.

If you are driving by our plant you may notice the new compressor structure off the back of the building. The base is made of steel so the entire structure can be moved easily for future expansion.  The bottom side of the steel base has 8" of spray foam insulation.

The north side of the structure is the intake and has louvers to keep driving rain or snow out.   The north side intake means prevailing winds help to increase airflow.

The north side of the structure is the intake and has louvers to keep driving rain or snow out.   The north side intake means prevailing winds help to increase airflow.

Directly behind the intake are slide-out removable filters so all air entering the structure will be free of debris.

Directly behind the intake are slide-out removable filters so all air entering the structure will be free of debris.

Moving inside the structure, the entire intake wall is made of 6 electrically controlled dampers.  These dampers open based on the inside temperature so only the necessary amount of air passes through.  This is great for the winter months when almost no outside cooling air is needed.

Moving inside the structure, the entire intake wall is made of 6 electrically controlled dampers.  These dampers open based on the inside temperature so only the necessary amount of air passes through.  This is great for the winter months when almost no outside cooling air is needed.

Here is a view of the south wall with 2 of the fans.  You can also see the compressor and 2 vacuum pumps installed.  We sized the fans to completely exchange the air in the building in 30 seconds.  Notice the walls are also lined with white aluminum sheeting so cleaning the entire structure is simple.  Behind those walls is 6" of spray foam insulation to stop moisture build up and to make sure that the structure can hold its own temperature no matter what the outside ambient is.   

Here is a view of the south wall with 2 of the fans.  You can also see the compressor and 2 vacuum pumps installed.  We sized the fans to completely exchange the air in the building in 30 seconds.  Notice the walls are also lined with white aluminum sheeting so cleaning the entire structure is simple.  Behind those walls is 6" of spray foam insulation to stop moisture build up and to make sure that the structure can hold its own temperature no matter what the outside ambient is.   

All of the fans and dampers are thermostatically controlled through a custom programmed PLC.  At certain set points, dampers are opened and fans turned on so the minimal electricity is used and ideal operating temperatures are maintained. 

All of the fans and dampers are thermostatically controlled through a custom programmed PLC.  At certain set points, dampers are opened and fans turned on so the minimal electricity is used and ideal operating temperatures are maintained. 

A gable mounted cross draft fan was installed to add additional cooling as well as draw in warm shop air in the cold winter months to prevent freeze up.  

A gable mounted cross draft fan was installed to add additional cooling as well as draw in warm shop air in the cold winter months to prevent freeze up.  

Electricity service to the shed is 600V, and the appropriate transformers are installed to drop down to both 460V and 208V.  Notice the use of LED overhead lights to make sure maintainence and electricity use are at a minimum. 

Electricity service to the shed is 600V, and the appropriate transformers are installed to drop down to both 460V and 208V.  Notice the use of LED overhead lights to make sure maintainence and electricity use are at a minimum. 

Outside the south wall, you can see the flaps open for both one large exhaust fan and the gable fan.  As a side note, the white entry doors (left side of picture) were also manufactured in house at Lean Machine! 

Outside the south wall, you can see the flaps open for both one large exhaust fan and the gable fan.  As a side note, the white entry doors (left side of picture) were also manufactured in house at Lean Machine! 

Steel and Black Powder

Steel Pipe on the bandsaw, Laser cutting, machining, welding, and some black powder-coating from our friends at Advantage Powder.  Sometimes it's hard to believe how many different areas of our production a part can cross.  This wasn't robotically welded but thanks to our Fronius Transteel welders you can't tell the difference.

That's a clean looking steel bead layed on this part! 

That's a clean looking steel bead layed on this part! 

Spheres and street lamps

What starts as a really cool aluminum sphere made on one of our CNC lathes is actually the bottom of street lamp brackets all over downtown Saskatoon.

Here is a Google street view of an example of this part.  If you can see the bracket attached to the pole, the sphere is opposite the light fixture.

Here is a Google street view of an example of this part.  If you can see the bracket attached to the pole, the sphere is opposite the light fixture.

Laser Precision Beer

Some trick tap handles one of our engineers designed up for a local brewery.  We don't normally do smaller jobs like this at Lean Machine but sometimes you have to break the rules.  I think the results show that if you have access to the most advanced equipment in the world the possibilities are endless.

Normally cutting 10g thick steel with this much detail would result in a glob of molten metal left on the table but our HK laser and a great programming sequence made it happen.  The rear handle is Stainless Steel and the front handle is Mild steel.

Normally cutting 10g thick steel with this much detail would result in a glob of molten metal left on the table but our HK laser and a great programming sequence made it happen.  The rear handle is Stainless Steel and the front handle is Mild steel.

Steel High Speed Machining

This post is about a cute little steel part (yes, steel can be cute) that started as a quick brainstorming session in engineering and resulted in a cool finished product for a Saskachewan electronics manufacturer.  Even the smallest job at Lean Machine can involve all of management, engineering, administration, and of course our machining department.  There are some pretty neat circular machining marks left on the part due to a unique machining method that we will explain below.

This part looks like it could be made from steel flatbar but here at Lean Machine we almost never use pre-cut shapes.  This started as a laser cut blank off our HK Laser then we put it through our Haas VF4 mill and this is the resulting part.  By not using pre-cut shapes we can reduce our inventory (as you can imagine we would almost never have the correct shape and qty in stock) and shorten our lead times because we can custom cut whatever we need out of a large plate.

This part looks like it could be made from steel flatbar but here at Lean Machine we almost never use pre-cut shapes.  This started as a laser cut blank off our HK Laser then we put it through our Haas VF4 mill and this is the resulting part.  By not using pre-cut shapes we can reduce our inventory (as you can imagine we would almost never have the correct shape and qty in stock) and shorten our lead times because we can custom cut whatever we need out of a large plate.

Below is the difference between traditional machining vs high speed.  The idea is to take smaller (thinner) cuts at a faster rate.  We try to achieve a cut with the entire diameter and height of the cutter engaged in order to spread the chip load over the whole tool (instead of just the leading edge).  High speed machining also gets super technical by trying to match your cutting frequency with the resonant frequency of the machine but we will leave the explanation of that for another post.

Here is a pretty accurate description of the old (we'll call it traditional to be nice) machining method vs the new better, faster way. 

Here is a pretty accurate description of the old (we'll call it traditional to be nice) machining method vs the new better, faster way. 

The is a top down view of a cutting tool.  By burying the cutter deep into the material you can take thin cuts that load the tool around more of the diameter which distributes the load evenly.  Dropping the tool down into the middle of the material used to be a scary thing to do if you just tried to plow through as you would quickly overload the cutter and it would break.  Now we can even use smaller (cheaper) tools because they spin faster to eject the chip (and the heat).

The is a top down view of a cutting tool.  By burying the cutter deep into the material you can take thin cuts that load the tool around more of the diameter which distributes the load evenly.  Dropping the tool down into the middle of the material used to be a scary thing to do if you just tried to plow through as you would quickly overload the cutter and it would break.  Now we can even use smaller (cheaper) tools because they spin faster to eject the chip (and the heat).

We use both MasterCam and Inventor HSM to complete our machine programs.  This is a screen shot of what MasterCam calls "Dynamic Milling".

We use both MasterCam and Inventor HSM to complete our machine programs.  This is a screen shot of what MasterCam calls "Dynamic Milling".