How Autodesk Software helps Metalfab Engineering Maintain the Steel Fabrication Quality Standard
Founded in 1989, Metalfab Engineering Ltd is a family owned and run steel fabricator. From purpose -built facilities in Sittingbourne, Kent, it undertakes a range of structural and architectural steelwork projects across the South of England, including everything from standard house builds to breweries; sports centres and care homes. This includes a full design and build service for structural frames, staircases, balconies, guarding and ramps. The company is also a fully CE approved fabricator and can offer products in steel, stainless steel and other alloys.
For some time, Metalfab Engineering has been using Autodesk Advance Steel, a 3D modelling software for steel detailing, design, fabrication and construction, purchased through Graitec, an Autodesk reseller and developer of CAD/CAE software for the civil engineering and construction industries.
Metalfab Engineering also works with a range of other Autodesk software, including Autodesk® AutoCAD®, and has the Autodesk product bundle Autodesk Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Collection, from which it primarily uses Autodesk® Revit®, building information modelling (BIM) software, for design and planning purposes. In addition to this, the business uses another Autodesk tool, AutoCAD® Mechanical to export drawings into a format which can be read by teams of laser profilers, working on its projects.
Metalfab uses Advance Steel to design its steel structures within the many buildings it creates. Graitec, which actually created Advance Steel before selling it to Autodesk in 2014, provides advice, consultancy and support.
Metalfab Engineering’s decision to work with Graitec was indeed at least in part based on the familiarity of the reseller with Autodesk products but it was just as important that Graitec was using an Autodesk platform originally and could help facilitate data exchange between its products and the Autodesk software. All this helped streamline the service provided to Metalfab Engineering. The training offered by Graitec was also high-quality.
Graitec has played a key role in supporting Metalfab Engineering in its use of Autodesk software. It has trained users on Advance Steel and provided technical support. It has helped answer queries from Metalfab about how to do everything from optimum drawings to questions around modelling such as how to create difficult joints. Graitec has been quick to respond, provide advice and ensure that the software is set up and configured at all times to meet Metalfab Engineering’s every need.
“Graitec are always happy to help and always flexible,” says David May, Draughtsman/Responsible Welding Coordinator at Metalfab Engineering. “Their support is exemplary both in terms of the quality of expert help but also in terms of responsiveness.”
The main benefits that Metalfab Engineering attains from using the Autodesk software are enhanced accuracy and speed. The fact that it can model in 3D using the software is key. It enables the company to visualise and work through complex problems much more easily than if it was working in 2D.
This helps Metalfab to complete designs faster and drive up accuracy levels. It also helps to support clash detection. The automatic drawing capability enshrined within the software further accelerates all that hard work, enabling Metalfab to quickly create workshop drawings and machine cutting (MC) files very quickly and then adapt them to its preferences as and when required.
In short, using Advance Steel allows Metalfab users to get the drawings much faster than if they were using 2D – and revisions to edits are faster still with Advance Steel. One change could potentially affect five or more different elements of the design but with Advance Steel when one element is modified, the system updates everything automatically, significantly speeding up the process. It is all done in a matter of moments.