Steel fabrication creates products or structures by cutting, bending, and assembling metal materials. It is typically a three-stage process:
—resulting in a full or partial metal project.
One of the most important tools required for this fabrication process is the beam coping machine.
What is beam coping?
Since steel beams are often fabricated to fit with other beams, coping and slotting are the preferred methods for ensuring they fit together tightly, precisely, and without interference. Basically, this means making cuts into metal beams, so they align with other metal beams. For example: if you needed to connect two beams across the top of a gymnasium or warehouse, you would need to cut pieces of the beams so they can fit together.
Material is typically removed from the beam’s flange (horizontal part) or web (the vertical part of the beam that connects the flange) so the beams can connect at an angle.
Whenever coping is required, fabrication shops use one of two methods: manual coping or a CNC beam coping machine.
Manual vs. CNC beam coping machine
In the past, all coping was done by hand. The process required laying out the reliefs and cutting them with a handheld torch. These copes were often subject to human error and required extra cutting and grinding at assembly. The layout operation and hand-cutting were expensive because of the time involved and the need to use experienced (and high-priced) fabricators.
Eventually, beam coping machines emerged and replaced manual coping in many shops. These machines eliminated costly human errors, improved coping accuracy, increased productivity, allowed lower-paid entry-level workers to perform the cuts, and reduced cleanup time.
Not all beam-coping machines are created equal
A modern line of beam processing machines employs milling and drilling techniques to provide coping relief and assembly holes for mounting hardware using four independent sub-axes. These features allow the machine to process three or four sides simultaneously. In other words, these highly stable machines can drill holes, mill relief, and mark layout lines with a speed and quality impossible using manual methods.
Remember, not all beam-coping machines will have the durability to handle the excessive forces of multiple machining operations. Only a machine with a robust and rigid box frame, short tool lengths, and an accurate measuring system can offer the consistent quality required for beam processing. At Metal Works, we are proud to say we use the most high-end beam coping machines for our projects, saving your business money and ensuring high-quality assemblies on your next project. Stop by to see it in action!