Metal machining is often a very difficult process, and there are many aspects to consider, including material costs and preparation times, as some metals require special considerations before machining. If high-quality tools specifically made to cut specialty metals aren’t used during the machining process, the part may have to be reworked, and new materials may need to be purchased, which can negatively affect production value.
The best approach to avoid these hassles is to understand the challenges around the economics of metal machining and approach them with failure-proof strategies, such as purchasing high-quality remnant metals at a much lower cost from a local metal supplier.
Challenges to the Economics of Metal Machining
Metal machining can often be an expensive process that generates a lot of material waste. Below, we detail a few of the most costly machining challenges.
Some applications require specific metal alloys to match with desired performance standards. For instance, specialty alloys such as titanium and Inconel are highly desirable for high-stress and corrosive applications; however, they are significantly more expensive than common alloys like steel and aluminum and are equally difficult to machine. Unless you machine them correctly, it can negatively affect the economics of metal machining in terms of unwanted production waste and additional material purchases.
Initial Preparation Time
Some metal alloys, like aluminum and titanium, are easy to machine, while some can be tricky to work with. For example, all nickel alloys such as Invar, Inconel, and Monel, are very difficult to machine in the annealed condition. The surfaces of these alloys tend to go through plastic deformation ahead of the tool and form a hard layer that is too difficult to penetrate through the subsequent operation. Thus, they require special considerations.
Cutting such alloys requires the largest tool possible, along with a rigid setup to provide maximum heat sink and minimize vibration. For example, you may require band saws over a manual hacksaw to cut tricky shapes and custom angles. Finally, the finished products may have to be annealed post-machining to release stress for dimensional stability. Catering to all of these initial setups would require considerable time, leading to process delays and additional costs.
It is nearly impossible to avoid material waste triggered by human errors or machine malfunctions when trying to cut metals to size by yourself. Sometimes, poor-quality material may also lead to poor chip quality. In the long term, it may cost you additional material purchases over time, along with unnecessary reworks.
How to Optimize Machining Costs
Although there are many challenges faced when machining metals, especially in terms of expense, there are ways that fabricators and machine shops can maximize production value.
Purchase Remnant Metals
A bulk manufacturing process generates a huge amount of usable metal remnants. These remnants can be highly useful for small shop owners and fabricators. If your project doesn’t specifically require metals sourced straight from the mill, you can purchase these remnants at a highly competitive price. The biggest advantage with metal remnants is that they are readily available—you don’t have to face price surges and limited stock issues as with new metals.
Order Precision-Cut Metals
Cutting stainless steel or other hard alloys to specific dimensions and tolerances is extremely challenging. If you don’t have special equipment for cutting high-strength metals, take advantage of the precision sawing service of a local metal supplier to avoid unnecessary hassles. With an ideal service provider, you can achieve precision and quality with every order. Subsequently, you won’t have to deal with material waste, over-purchasing, or waste recycling processes.
Partner with a Local Metal Supplier
Given the importance of precision-cut metal remnants for the economics of metal machining, it’s imperative to partner with a local metal supplier with a large stock of verified metal remnants readily available for purchase at much lower costs than new metals sourced straight from the mill.
Some metal suppliers may also have large cutting tools and the expertise to machine specialty alloys with ease. They can trim the edges of the metal remnants you purchase according to your required dimensions, saving you a significant amount of time. Unlike new metals, remnants do not come with mill test reports. However, you can check for their material composition using advanced spectrometry technologies like x-ray fluorescence (XRF).
Affordable Metal Cutting in the Bay Area
With more than two decades of experience serving the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide, Industrial Metal Service not only supplies and recycles metals and metal remnants but also cuts your metal purchases to size, saving you valuable time and money.
For your convenience, we have state-of-the-art sawing machines designed to precisely cut specific metals. For your aluminum sawing requirements, our MetlSaw NF12-T12 is made to quickly and easily cut large, non-ferrous metal plates while holding the tightest tolerances, and for cutting specialty metals such as titanium, our Amada PCSAW 530 X band saw with pulse cutting technology can effectively cut with lower resistance and shorter chipping, producing lower thermal loads.