Superior Metal Shapes specializes in the fabrication of aluminum parts and components for a broad range of industries. Using our comprehensive aluminum extrusion and machining capabilities, we’ve assisted in the fabrication of innovative solutions for all manner of applications. This case study demonstrates our ability to develop solutions to even the most challenging projects.
We were approached by a communications company to assist in the development of a solution that would provide internet access in areas with little or no service, including areas of military deployment. This project required us to fabricate a three-part aluminum protective canister based on a client-provided design, which would ultimately be part of a communications satellite.
This project presented numerous difficulties from the outset. Here are some of the challenges we had to overcome:
- The canister itself was small, requiring close tolerances and intricate fabrication.
- The component needed to have appropriate resistances to extreme hot and cold temperatures produced both by the operating environment and the machinery itself.
- One of the three parts would not adhere to the other two.
- The canister had to undergo an electroless nickel finishing process, but the final finish made it too smooth for an additional required powder coating to adhere properly.
- The end cap for the canister required complex machining operations.
- Since the part had military applications, it required the use of specific paints and inks for numbering parts.
- The client-side engineer contact kept changing, so we had to work with engineers that weren’t always familiar with the project.
In addition to these challenges, we discovered that the original design our client provided had a few issues in execution. Moisture kept getting into the aluminum container prototypes, and there were numerous manufacturability issues with the design itself that needed to be resolved.
While our customer’s engineering team had created a good design, they had little practical machining experience in the world of extrusions. As such, they had some difficulty accounting for the machining and finishing processes, and how those activities might impact the tolerances in the final design. Our in-house team was able to help to tweak the design to improve manufacturability and account for the impacts of all machining and finishing methods.
Throughout this project, we continued to incorporate weekly design adjustments from our client and in return produced weekly prototypes for them to test and improve on. The number of revised prototypes created in such a short period of time enabled the client to quickly overcome the problems they were having. Any issues with moisture, plating and coating, as well as assembly concerns, were resolved through our consistent partnership. Ultimately, our combined teams were able to produce a functional prototype of the aluminum canister that met and exceeded all application needs.
Once design adjustments and prototyping were completed, the customer contracted us for several full production runs. We also continue to hold specialized materials and vendor relationships for this client, such as the unique military-grade paints and inks. Superior Metal Shapes keeps your production needs in mind – this way, it makes reordering easy and facilitates short lead times for your future orders.
Overcome Your Project Challenges With Superior Metal Shapes
This project demonstrated our ability to collaborate closely with our customers to identify and overcome design challenges to facilitate efficient production of complex aluminum parts. To see how our aluminum extrusion and machining capabilities can support your project, please contact us.