By Steve Bailey
Heat-treating has been around so long many think of it as just another routine step in manufacturing. Manufacturers look for competitive prices, quick turn around and quality. But there are hidden costs and risk when heat-treating isn’t done right.
As an example, ABC Manufacturing has a batch of bright, shiny parts that are machined to key specifications and needs to be heat-treated. They want to ensure the parts will still be shiny after heat-treating. At this point they have invested in purchasing raw material, assessing vendors, machining processes and shipping. These are sunk costs that will not be recovered if something goes wrong in heat-treating.
When steel is heated to a fragile molten stage between 1400 to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit a lot of things can go wrong. Here is how to make sure the outcome is bright, right, and shiny:
- Review input. Check the part configuration, quality, and composition of the part to be treated to ensure treating will be successful.
- Review specifications. Look up the type of steel to determine temperature, cooling speed and type of furnace that will deliver best output.
- Identify appropriate furnace. Qualtek has several vacuum furnaces and controlled atmosphere furnaces. The size and type of material determines which furnace we use for a job.
- Check the efficiency and vacuum of equipment. Qualtek’s investment in new equipment delivers 100% controlled atmosphere. The better the vacuum is maintained in the furnace atmosphere the better we can protect parts from oxidation, scaling and discoloration.
- Report any problems before treating. After checking the part quality, composition, expected outcomes, and heating and cooling specifications, if there are concerns about meeting requirements our experts discuss options with clients before treatment.
- Consider the total cost of quality when comparing heat-treat bids. If a batch of parts is lost due to poor quality heat-treating you end up losing money. Quality is not always more expensive – just more careful. Working with knowledgeable experts can save you money.
Our clients trust Qualtek for tough or tricky jobs as well as routine jobs because we apply our expertise and quality control to make sure they get the best value. If you have tricky or routine heat-treat questions, please contact us at 719-598-3394.
Qualtek President Chris Fagnant is Out of Office. But you can still reach him! His new blog for The Fabricator is called Out of Office. See his latest article about the speed of change in manufacturing.
By Don Sherrill
It is exciting to build and launch a new or improved product. As drawings are developed, companies define what they want parts to do, how they function, budget parameters, and the quality standards necessary. Partnering with manufacturers in the supply chain early on can add long-term value in ways you may not have considered.
Match function and process. Discussing your vision for form and function with your supply chain partner adds value by tapping into their expertise in manufacturing processes. If you have a problem or question, manufacturing partners may suggest materials, processes, or design adjustments that deliver parts that function the way you need more efficiently.
Holistic view. Design engineers may focus on individual manufacturing steps and look for different vendors to meet defined stamping requirements, heat treat specifications and finishing standards. Metal manufacturers that provide vertical integration – all those manufacturing services in one location – analyze all steps from start to finish. They add value by managing production in one place efficiently and effectively to meet the quality standards you define.
Inventory management. A surprising value from manufacturing partners can be optimizing your inventory. Manufacturers that provide a single service (i.e. stamping) will likely produce in large runs to achieve your target price. That volume of product adds to your inventory. However, by partnering with a manufacturer that offers all steps of the manufacturing process from one company (i.e. stamping, heat treating, finishing) you can obtain just the right amount of completed parts to match your needs. You don’t have to stockpile partially completed parts in inventory to save costs and just-in-time production balances costs with revenue. By maintaining little to no inventory, design changes are less costly because transition to a new version will not create a large volume of scrapped parts.
Partnering with trusted manufacturers that understand your products and problems and provide integrated services that meet your supply and quality standards can deliver real value to your bottom line.
Qualtek President, Chris Fagnant, has agreed to contribute his perspective on manufacturing to The Fabricator blog for the next year. Chris will explore how manufacturers engaged in their communities will continue to contribute to the economy. See his first article.
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado awarded its Social Impact Business of the Year To Blue Star Recyclers. The Fagnant Family Foundation helped found Blue Star in 2009 and the organization now employs 40 people with disAbilities.
Chris Fagnant, President of Qualtek, describes contradictory impact of Presidential election on Colorado manufacturing. Read the full article.
By Andre Papineau
The first step in anodizing aluminum that is often overlooked is communicating the objective for the part. What does the part do; why is anodize required; are there areas that are critical to the function of the final part; is a certain anodize type important? Talking over these objectives will help refine the anodizing process and cost estimates.
Careful planning also requires clear and concise drawings. The more complicated the part, the greater the importance of clear drawings. When drawings or plans indicate exactly where anodize areas should be masked there is less confusion about the time it will take to prepare the part. The better drawings communicate your intentions, the more precise cost estimates can be.
Masking can often be a very laborious and time consuming job and can represent more than 70% of anodize costs. When Qualtek receives a quote request, at least three sets of eyes review the drawings. Sometimes we have the part in hand and can match drawings to the part and identify any questions about the process. The more information we have, the more accurately we can estimate the time it will take to complete the masking and anodizing process.
Once the plans are reviewed and quotes approved, anodizing the part according to the plans takes true craftsmanship. Qualtek’s expert finishing team applies plugs, tape, or paint to precisely match drawings. Their craftsmanship earned Qualtek the nickname of “Best Anodizer in Colorado”.
The key to getting high quality, anodize parts at the best price requires communication of objectives, clear drawings, and expert craftsmanship. For questions about anodizing or any of our finishing process, please contact me at (719) 598-3394.
Qualtek is excited to announce that Troy Roberts will become our new CEO on December 1. Roberts brings his expertise in stamping technology as President/COO of AIDA- America to help us grow. Read More.
Our interpreter demonstrated her artistic prowess with our deep drawn stampings and tie bands. Pretty creative.
By Mike Williams
Most Tool and Die folks know about Wire EDM. But do you know when it is right for YOU?
- Wire EDM is precise. When you need tolerance to be within 0.0001″, Wire EDM can get you there.
- Wire EDM can create tight inside radius. When your part requires a feature that is simply too detailed for conventional lathe or mill machining, Wire EDM can deliver an inside radius of .005″.
- Wire EDM can create an ultra-fine finish. When you need a finish that meets criteria, Wire EDM can finish it.
When precision, tight inside radius, or ultra-fine finish is important for your conductive material part, Wire EDM might be your best solution. Unfortunately, we sometimes see drawings where the specified machining process cannot deliver the tolerance required and problems develop. Don’t get yourself in a tight spot. Talk to us when you are planning the part for recommendations.
One more thing you might not know about Wire EDM — Qualtek does it! If you work with Qualtek for Stamping, Tool & Die, Heat Treating, or Finishing, you may not realize Wire EDM is one of our specialties. Contact me for any questions you have on Wire EDM.