Manufacturing is a critical part of the U.S. economy, making up 11% of the total GPD. We at Graber Manufacturing, Inc. are proud to say that all of our products are made in the U.S.A. Our company is based entirely out of Waunakee, Wisconsin, and we'd love to share our process of how things get made with you!
While there are many different steps in the creation of our site furnishings, from engineering to creating the order sheets, in this article we want to focus on the production side of things, how our products go theory to reality!
The first step in our production process is receiving and sorting steel as it comes into our shop. We have several local suppliers, steel rolling mills, close by to us in the Midwest. Some of the steel we receive arrives pre-cut, and will be stored in our factory until it is ready to be used. Steel that has not been pre-cut will be stored separately in our facility, and taken down as needed for projects as they are assigned.
When a specific project needs steel, we cut it down to size with our band saw and then begin to augment it as needed.
For example, if the steel for a project needs to have holes in it, such as the case with a galvanized furnishing, it will be sent through our hole punch machine. This machine can be adjusted to create as many holes in any diameter as we need for a specific project.
Once necessary cutting has been done, the steel be sent through benders, which help to form the initial outlines of the furnishing.
Next, we will begin the welding process. Our welding process can work in several different ways, depending on the project. One of our skilled welders may put the entire piece together themselves. This is especially true for custom projects.
Other times, our steel frames may be put into a robot for welding. The robot is programmed to know exactly where to weld. The bent steel will be placed into forms which hold them together while the robot welds.
In many cases, however, a project will take the work of both our craftsmen and our robots to get the job done. Doing it this way allows us to maximize the amount of products we can manufacture in a day.
Once welded together, stainless steel products will be inspected, sent to our woodworking area if needed, and then go to get packaged and shipped. Our non-stainless products go through a longer process before they are ready for shipping.
Non-stainless products will be sent through our shot blaster, which shoots small pieces of metal at extremely high speeds at the furnishing, working to strengthen the steel.
Once through the shot blaster, edges and rough pieces will be removed from the furnishing until it is smooth.
Then, the products will be separated into two groups, galvanized products and powder coat products.
Galvanized products will be sent out in large batches to our galvanizer, located in Milwaukee, to be treated.
Our powder coat products will be sent out to receive our e-Steele™ coating.
Once the products return to the shop, the galvanized products will be inspected, sent to our woodworking area if needed, and then go to get packaged and shipped.
After being given an e-Steele™ finish, our powder coat products will begin the actual powder coat process.
To start, the products will be hung from the ceiling on hangers and sent through our wash booth to be cleaned off.
The products will then be sent through our low-bake oven to dry off and be heated up so the powder coat better adheres.
The product will then be powder coated and sent through our high-bake oven to set, before finally exiting and being cooled by fans.
These powder coated products will be sent to the woodshop if needed, where boards of Ipe wood and recycled plastic will be cut, treated, and grouped together with corresponding furnishings.
The finished products will then be inspected and packaged for shipping, paired with all of the pieces of small hardware needed to put them together.
Finally, the packages will be taken over to our shipping department to wait for the freight trucks that will take them to their destination!