Metal fabrication is now a rapidly changing and dynamic industry. The ability to turn on a dime and deliver advanced and innovative materials and processes is a must. This is especially true as sheet metal fabrication serves the transportation and shipping sectors.
Here are four major upcoming trends in sheet metal fabrication in the transportation industry:
4 Major Sheet Metal Fabrication Trends for 2018
The demand for automation is transforming nearly every industry, and sheet metal fabrication is no exception.
Automation helps make the processes of cutting and bending simpler and faster. As the needs of the transport and shipping sectors grow exponentially, sheet metal fabricators will continually need to improve order-to-ship cycles to keep pace and stay competitive.
As the production arms race is ratcheted up, automation will be a key way companies stay ahead of the curve into the foreseeable future.
2. 3-D Printing
This comparatively new technology has seen the most use in the areas of prototype modeling and production.
The ability to easily visualize and manipulate early design phases is a key way designers streamline their R&D processes. At present, this is still a less expensive method compared to collaborative virtual modeling, which companies like Volvo are bringing to bear.
3-D printing in metal fabrication primarily involves stamping metals to produce a specific design. SpaceX, for example, uses a 3-D printing process to create custom metal components for advanced aerospace systems.
As new truck designs permeate the shipping industry, 3-D printing will become a necessary capability for metal fabricators at every level.
Outsourcing has been a go-to strategy for just about every type of business, as it enables companies to keep pace in data-rich, global economies.
Today, sheet metal fabricators are realizing this and are turning to nearshoring, or the outsourcing of business operations to a nearby country, to shave off significant amounts of time and overhead in the manufacturing process. Today, local tax incentives are making this an even more attractive option.
Finally, we have ZAM, which is an alloy coated steel with:
- 91% zinc
- 6% aluminum
- 3% magnesium
This revolutionary alloy coating provides a longer life than similar products. It does more with a thinner coat, and has superior formability compared to other coating alloys. This revolutionary product will effectively bridge the gap between heavily coated galvanized steel and stainless steel, which is very expensive.
But perhaps the most outstanding quality of ZAM alloy is its high alkaline resistance, which persists even in direct contact with mortar and concrete. This will make it an invaluable addition to currently available metal fabrication technologies and techniques.