Technology and MCM Panel Systems
There are very few systems in the
construction products industry that has benefited more
from the introduction of technology over the last 20
years as much as metal composite material panel
systems. Over the next few months we will be looking
at some of the technological innovations in the
area of MCM panel systems and the methods used
to penetrate the market for these systems.
Some of the areas of technological
innovation we will address are:
- Computer Aided Machining
- Use of AutoCAD for Approval Drawings
- Lead Tracking
- Procurement of Contract Documents
- Field Dimensioning
This month we will take a look at Computer Aided
When we began fabrication of MCM panels back
in 1989-1990, we purchased "state-of-the-art"
machining equipment. At the time, that was a vertical
panel saw for cutting the MCM sheets to size and a
vertical panel saw with a solid backboard for routing
the folding flanges of the sheets to form panels.
These pieces of equipment for machining the
sheets were very accurate and did a great job; for
rectangular panels only.
However, whenever we had parts that had to
have a radius panel in plan, we had to become
innovative. For example, when we had a very large
radius to duplicate:
- We would clear out a large area on the
- Assemble a series of long extrusions that
was as long as the required radius.
- Strike an arc with a marker on the production
floor of the required radius.
- Transfer the required radius to a flat piece
- Make a wooden template of the required
- Then with the wooden template and a jig saw;
cut the MCM sheet to the proper size.
- Then use another wooden template to cut the
notches in the curved folding flanges with a plunge
Excellent quality panels can be made this way,
we have the completed projects to prove it, but it
takes an extraordinary amount of planning, time
and energy to accomplish what has been now made
simple by the introduction of technology.
Around 1994 we worked with a machinery broker
and, to our knowledge, were the first company to
utilize a Three Axis-Computer Aided Machining Center
for the machining of MCM panels. The machinery that we
chose was originally developed for the woodworking
industry, and working with the machinery broker we
were able to adapt the equipment for the machining of
This was a major investment for our firm and
at the time this machinery cost about a quarter of
a million dollars. However, from this point forward
we were able to produce panels with complex
geometry almost as easily as rectangular panels.
After a few years there were other entries in
the Three Axis-Computer Aided Machining Center
industry and the cost of the machines dropped
dramatically and therefore the barriers to entry into
MCM Fabrication were diminished substantially and
created many competitors in the field.
These technological innovations, and the others
we will be studying in upcoming months, have
gone a long way to make MCM Panel Systems one of
the most technologically advanced building materials
in the construction industry.
As we explore these benefits; please feel
free to drop me an email at: email@example.com to remind me of others.
Ted S. Miller is the CEO of The
Miller Clapperton Partnership Inc., Austell, Ga. For
more information, visit www.millerclapperton.com.