metal fabrication

There are many companies within the Schaus-Vorhies family. We cover contracting, water treatment, metal cleaning, fabrication, and more. Lately, in these posts, we’ve been focusing on the manufacturing (SVM) side of things. Yet, many projects involve more than just one of our companies. While the bulk of the work is completed by one branch of Schaus-Vorhies or the other, the finishing touches may need to be completed elsewhere.

Our last two posts have focused on the machining and fabrication of a custom metal (well, mostly metal) railing, such as the one pictured at the bottom of our SVM website. We described the process of making such an elaborate piece, going from raw material to the tools used to fabricate the individual pieces and how they are fabricated. For our purposes here, our client (a high-end hotel in this scenario) would like the finished product powder coated to protect the metal for many years to come.

Fortunately, another of the Schaus-Vorhies companies, Paint-Line (PLI), offers such services. Using a single source not only reduces cost overall for the customer, but it also gives us greater peace of mind, having total control over the product from the final design phase to shipping out our door.

Before the fabrication of our custom metal railing gets sent to PLI, it should get a thorough cleaning. For that, we send it over to Schaus-Vorhies Kleaning (SVK) for a dip in our fluidized sand bed. It’s a basket full of sand heated so much that it flows like a liquid. The sand’s heat and gentle rubbing remove any chemical residue or dirt that might be left on the railing. Even the nooks and crannies of the details and flourishes that make it more than just a functional railing are reached and cleaned without difficulty. Once the sand treatment is complete, the railing gets power washed and sent over to PLI for its powder coating.

Powder coating is a complex process. It begins with a polymer base mixed with required hardeners to provide the desired durability, and whatever pigmentation is necessary to create the customer’s specific custom color. After everything has is mixed thoroughly, it gets rolled into a large flat sheet. Once the sheet has hardened, it is broken up and ground into an incredibly fine powder, one that can be sprayed.
Naturally, it is isn’t sprayed through a conventional spray gun. Instead, the fine powder is applied with an electrostatic gun, giving the powder an electrical charge. When applied to the grounded railing, the powder forms an electrostatic bond with the metal. With the powder bonded to our custom railing, the whole thing is heated to 200F for ten minutes or more, allowing the powder to flow to create an even coat. As with the precision of the welds and the individual parts’ measurements, the powder coating’s evenness is extremely important since the railing will be a centerpiece of the hotel lobby.

So, finally, we’re done! Right? Wrong. We still need to get the wood portions bonded to our metal railing. There are a few ways to do this. A channel is forged in the metal bars that wood fits in. The wood portion would have the bottom routed to work into the channel and then be slid into place, reinforced with some slow-drying adhesive. The process could be reversed with the channel being routed into the wood and the key that fits into machined into the metal. It could also be screwed in place from the bottom up, with the screws being countersunk and covered with plugs; however, this would undo much of the effort we went to with the powder coating. A final option is to apply an industrial adhesive and clamp the pieces together until the adhesive can cure. Whichever method is used, once the curing process is complete, the finished product is carefully packaged and shipped off to a happy client.

Schaus-Vorhies hires the best people in a variety of disciplines. Our staff, combined with our various and well-equipped facilities, gives us the capacity to handle many large or small projects. Whether your needs are large and industrial or small and particular, the Schaus-Vorhies family of companies stands ready to serve you.