One of the questions we’re often asked is “What machines do I need for a workshop?”. This is a common question we get from companies that are just starting out on their fabrication journey. Whether they’re a brand-new company, or one that’s just started to bring fabrication in house for the first time. The answer of course is entirely dependent on what you’re looking to produce…
What machines do I need for a workshop?
We deal with a large variety of customers, from specialist manufacturers and suppliers of custom products, all the way to general welder / fabricators. The machinery needs of these customers can vary greatly. So it’s difficult to choose a one-size fits all set-up. Given the effects of Covid-19, we’ve seen an increasing number of fabricators deciding to become their own bosses. Setting up their own fabrication workshop, be it making gates, railings, balustrades or more. With this, they’ve been considering what machinery they need to start this process. We’ve put together a guide of the key pieces of equipment you might need to get off the ground.
While we don’t get involved in the welding industry, we recognise that in the fabrication world, it’s a highly important component. It’s therefore likely to be one of your most considered purchases, ensuring that it’s reliable, and suitable for your requirements. Our go-to recommendation for welding equipment and supplies is our sister company, Bison Machinery.
Other than welding equipment workshops will need some tools to cut, shape and prepare material to specification.
A Bandsaw can achieve a lot of your cutting requirements. Our range of Bandsaws comes in a large variety of specifications. With choices varying depending on what level of automation you require, and the maximum cutting capacity needed. For those starting out on a budget, we have our Sterling Swift Range of bandsaws.
The Sterling 210 is the most economical saw in our entire range, but still offers industrial grade cutting. With 190 mm x 150 mm for the widest cut, it’s ideal as a first saw. Featuring a Gravity-Downfeed, you can set the saw to cut and carry on with other tasks while it does the work for you.
Our range features many more options, including larger capacities and increased automation. It may be if you’re doing something more specialist, a different saw may better suit your requirements. For businesses setting up in the structural steel market for instance, our Sterling DGSA range may suit better. These heavy-duty, pivot-action, saws are perfect for cutting large steel beams, with features such as Hydraulic Vices and double mitring.
As well as cutting material to length, it’s almost inevitable that those cut materials will need to have holes drilled into them. A heavy-duty Pillar Drill would be another mainstay of virtually any workshop. Consistent and accurate drilling or tapping is important for any fabrication work, and you need a drill that you can rely on.
Our range of Meyer Pillar Drills will fit the requirements of most fabricators. Available in max. capacities of 25 mm, 32 mm and 50 mm these drills are built to last. The SR32AE and SR50VAE features auto-drilling and auto-tapping, for increased efficiency and accuracy. This is perfect for deskilling certain jobs, ideal for the workshop apprentice!
Large fabrication workshops often have a dedicated hydraulic guillotine and a CNC Plasma, for cutting and shaping plate materials. However, the humble Morgan Rushworth Steelworkers remain one of our most popular machines. They definitely still have a place in the modern workshop. With 5 stations for punching, shearing (Flat, Round, Square) and notching.
These versatile machines are available with single or twin rams, allowing one or two operators to use them at once. With an assortment of punch and dies, they are highly adaptable machines. With the functionality of punching, shearing and notching, these multi-purpose machines are arguably one of the most important machines a new shop could consider.
Often overlooked when setting up a workshop, is lengths of roller track to allow better handling of material. In-feed and out-feed rollers can quite literally take the load when moving heavy lengths of steel. No more holding the end of a length of steel while it cuts to stop it hitting the floor!
We often hear from fabricators “Ah it’s fine, I’ll make my own”. By all means virtually all of our customers are capable of making their own roller track, but why waste the time> Our roller track comes in three different widths (350 mm, 450 mm and 650 mm). Cost-effective, heavy-duty and good value for money. If you’re setting up a new business, or fabrication workshop, there will be plenty of other things to worry about!
As your workshop starts to take shape, bigger and more intensive jobs will come along, and other machines may be of use;
Press Brakes & Bending Machines
A workshop press of some form for making brackets, or bending sheet materials could be very beneficial. We offer several varieties, from Horizontal Bending Machines, to H-Frame Presses and full NC and CNC Press Brakes.
Section Rollers and Sheet Rolls
Box and Pan Folder
Beyond all of these machines, as your workshop grows and takes on more work, you may consider a profiling machine, such as a CNC Plasma, Laser or Waterjet. Read our guide about Outsourcing vs Bringing In-House for more information on this.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to “What machines do I need for a workshop?”. Hopefully though this guide should help to make that initial set-up a little easier. If you’d like to speak to one of our machinery consultants, they’d be happy to offer their advice and expertise. They can talk through what you’re looking to achieve, and advise on the best options to suit your needs and budgets.
Published 11th July 2022