Custom Sheet Metal Forms for Ovens

October 28, 2014 | Sheet Metal Fabrication

There’s more to Marlin Steel than just custom wire mesh baskets for parts cleaning applications. Recently, we discussed common uses for sheet metal baskets and when they would be best for use. However, there are more uses for custom-manufactured sheet metal than just material handling baskets.

In a recent order from a leading manufacturer of commercial-grade wood and gas burning pizza ovens, Marlin Steel was tasked with creating a custom sheet metal form designed not to hold parts or materials, but to be the face of an entire line of custom-made wood and gas-burning ovens to be used in pizza restaurants all across the United States and beyond.

The Challenge

sheet_metalFirst and foremost, the appearance of this sheet metal form had to be visually appealing. For most common parts handling/washing basket applications, attractiveness of form is typically a secondary concern to functionality. With a pizza oven meant to be the centerpiece of a restaurant designed to attract and impress customers, however, the face of the oven has to be beautiful.

On the other hand, functionality was still a major concern. After all, the face of that oven has to remain beautiful throughout the daily abuse of exposure to heat, smoke, and grease/acids from the occasional bit of spilled toppings.

Finding the right combination of food-grade stainless steel and coatings to make sure that the sheet metal faceplate/vent of the ovens could take the daily wear and tear of pizzeria operations was actually the easy part. The real challenge, from a manufacturing perspective, was getting the sheet metal that perfect, smooth curve that would allow it to mesh flawlessly with the circular design of the brick oven itself. Getting a perfectly smooth curve in a large piece of perforated sheet metal that isn’t too tight or too loose for a dome-shaped brick oven is a challenge, but it was one that Marlin Steel’s engineers and equipment were more than equal to.

Crafting a Rounded Custom Sheet Metal Faceplate

First, we began by cutting a flat piece of sheet metal into several pieces using a CNC metal punch. The metal punch was critical for saving metal by bending openings for the vent into the top of the sheet metal piece, leaving the excess material in place for the base of the vent shaft. Two pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom, were given curved cuts so that the rounded faceplate and top piece could be attached to them.

After that, we used our press brake machine to bend the ends of the sheet metal pieces to be attached to the top and bottom to give them a perfect 90° angle. This allowed for the top and bottom pieces to be attached smoothly to the large center sheet metal piece.

The next step was to add the faceplate itself. Unlike the other pieces of sheet metal, which were flat with curved cuts, the faceplate needed to be curved. To get this effect, Marlin Steel’s engineers used a proprietary rounding technique to give a long, thin piece of sheet metal the curved shape it would need to smoothly fit the rounded edge of the bottom plate, and repeated this process with another, even more narrow piece of sheet metal for the top.

To finish off the rounded faceplate, a custom engraving was cut into the sheet metal and painted in red to highlight the customer’s brand name.

Mass Production Meets High Quality

As soon as the individual pieces were complete, the parts were welded together using an automated welding machine. In fact, using automation for every step of the process allowed Marlin Steel to complete this custom sheet metal part in a fraction of the time it would take for purely manual labor to create the same part. Better yet, the automated manufacturing process made the part with incredible precision, ensuring micrometer-tight tolerances.

Once the manufacturing robots were programmed for the task, they were able to work ceaselessly to produce the sheet metal components for the oven. Working at full speed from the first part to the last, these machines were able to quickly complete enough parts to fill the client’s order. Because of the precision of automated manufacturing, every part was able to meet tight tolerances.

Find out how you can take advantage of Marlin’s advanced factory automation for your own product lines today!

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