Custom Metal Products of Distinction Since 1909

Inside the Architectural Grille Manufacturing Process

 
Posted Fri, August 30, 2019

A photo of metal manufacturing

Stop and take a look at your surroundings. Check the ceilings. Check the walls. Check the floors. You may see a custom metal grille that serves a dual purpose: functionality and aesthetic. Did the amount of detail and planning that goes into manufacturing a grille ever cross your mind? Well, we’re here to provide some context.

Throughout the years, we’ve given you bits and pieces of how our operation works and what unique techniques we offer during the metalworking process. We’ve also explained how some of our services work and what you need to know before making the plunge into custom metalwork. 

Consider this an all-encompassing guide on how we manufacture custom metal grilles. We’ll detail certain techniques, types of metals used and how we provide finishes to transform your residential or business space.

How Coco Architectural Manufactures Metal Grilles to Suit your Needs

Here at Coco, we manufacture custom metal grilles, such as air vents, registers and grilles for the floor, wall, or ceiling, with the consumer in mind. We provide the brain and the muscle upfront so your grille is ready to install on delivery.

What sets us apart is our all-inclusive metal fabrication facility. We aren’t just a designer or a fabricator. We can handle it all, from engineering and production to custom finishes and installation.

This is where we can configure anything to add value to your home/business. For example, we can manufacture convex/concave, radius, mitered corner, mitered inside, mitered outside and round linear bar grilles. Our clients include architects, designers, contractors and homeowners.

With our perforated grilles, we can assist with concealed fasting, welded support bars, access doors or installation hardware with a matching finish.

What Makes Us Unique?

For starters, we recently upgraded from a CO2 laser cutting machine to a state-of-the-art fiber laser. We expanded on this more with a full breakdown of laser cutting and how we use it at Coco. Our new laser combines speed with efficiency (nozzle changes, cleaning, and the Z-Axis calibrating are done automatically) to cut thin and thick materials without a lens change or manual setup.

For most of our cutting, we use high-speed production saws for non-ferrous metals; band saws, double miter saws, and cold saws for stainless steel and steel; and a shear for sheet metal work.

Once we cut the metal, we use CNC bending to customize our products, mainly our perforated metal grilles. We bend the metal at an angle, typically a V, using punch tooling. 

We have years of metal forming experience, including the rolling of scrolls, angles, tubes and bars with bending machines. These methods allow us to fabricate unique decorative accents.

When welding, we use gas tungsten arc welding, also known as tungsten inert gas welding (TIG). We prefer TIG machines since they can weld heavier gauges. Additionally, we have access to metal inert gas welding(MIG), although we rarely use it. 

Once we cut, bend and shape the metal, a variety of finishes are at your disposal. We pride ourselves on L-Bead installation available with aluminum, bronze or stainless steel options. Known as “mud-in,” this process tricks the eye into thinking the grill is built into the wall. To accomplish this, we have the highest level of plaster recess, our welding process prevents plaster cracking and the core of the grille is removable. This makes it easy on you, the consumer. Pre-punched holes also allow for quick mounting, and plaster can be added to transform your business or room. 

The Five Types of Metals We Use

You’ll first want to consider measuring your space and choosing your air flow for your next custom metal grille project. The next step is deciding which metal is best for you.

At Coco Architectural, we can manufacture linear bar grilles and perforated metal grilles in five types of metal: aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel and steel. You can learn more about the materials and finish options (we’ll expand more on that below) in our catalog.

Depending on which metal you use, we have several decorative metal patterns to choose from for your next metal grille project. A few of our favorites are the windsor (clean pattern with octagons and circles; ideal for modern or mid-century projects), majestic (decorative crosses and circles; adds to any restoration) and bullet (functional yet sophisticated; perfect for modern offices).

Aluminum 

Similar in popularity to steel, aluminum is a popular choice for metals due to its affordability, durability and appearance. Its wide-spread use is largely tied to abundance, as aluminum makes up 8% of the Earth’s core mass. Aluminum’s pliability and soft, lightweight characteristics (three times lighter than iron) make it easy to be rolled, pulled and stamped.

  • More cost effective than stainless steel 

  • Lighter and weaker than most metals

  • Oxidizes but won’t rust

Brass

Process copper and zinc together, either through melting, mixing or rolling, and you’ll get brass. This alloy has a low melting point to make it cheaper than most metals. Brass is corrosion-resistant, making it popular for plumbing. You’ll find it in high traffic areas, such as door handles, since it acts as a barrier to bacteria. Brass is commercialized for its decorative look and similar visual appearance to gold, albeit it at a much cheaper price point.

  • Can form complex shapes

  • Tarnishes and becomes dull and spotted over time

Bronze

This mixture of copper, aluminum and tin is slightly bendable with gold and yellow hues. Bronze is most closely associated with Olympic medals. Even with its association as a third-place award, bronze is expensive to make. But a low metal-on-metal friction component makes it ideal for sculptures and accents.

  • Low maintenance

  • High-end feel/look without the high price tag

Stainless Steel

We all know and love stainless steel for its usage in the kitchen — pots and pans, appliances, and industrial equipment are all made with this popular metal. Stainless steel is made via the same process as steel, but with added chromium, a chemical metal used to prevent rusting. This provides longevity but also hikes up the cost.

  • Best for sleek, modern finishes

  • Corrosion resistant

  • Expensive but a long life span

Steel

There’s a reason steel is so popular and used for key structures such as skyscrapers, railroads and stadiums. It’s strong and is cheaper to produce than most other metals. During this process, you melt iron ore to remove carbon. The result, once cooled, is a dark gray metal that doesn’t bend easily. The downside is rust forms when its left unprotected.

  • Cost effective, durable and strong

  • Can rust and tarnish over time

Types of finishes

Picking out the type of metal is half the process. We let you customize your finishing options from a laundry list of choices ranging from oil rubbed to blackened. These may sound like food options, but they are important aspects to how your metal grille will look and perform.

Baked Enamel Colors

You can easily confuse a primed metal finish with a baked metal finish based on appearance. The differences, however, are clear. Baked coatings provide a hard, tough finish that is stronger and corrosion-resistant. We use powder coated finishes by creating a thermal bond to make the metal stronger. You also have the ability to color match. Send us a manufacturer’s paint spec (part number/name) along with the sheen level (flat, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, etc.) and we can customize your order.

Used with: Aluminum and steel

Blackened

Used for steel and stainless steel, a series of chemical baths help turn the metal black. This provides mild corrosion resistance for appearance and to minimize light reflection. We use cold blackening at Coco by submerging it in a blackening agent. Adding a clear lacquer provides protection. The finish still leaves the metal prone to corrosion, so we recommend using it for indoor projects.

Used with: Steel, brass or bronze

Duranodic (Bronze Anodized)/Anodized Colors

Anodizing a metal creates a strong, durable product that is resistant to corrosion. For this process, aluminum is immersed in an acid electrolyte bath with a positive charge added to release oxygen ions. The aluminum oxide is fully integrated so it won’t chip or peel like paint. The final product helps metal adhere to primers and glues better than untreated metal. You can add colors to give a metallic appearance once the empty pores are sealed.

Used with: Aluminum 

Mirrored Polish

Just as it sounds, this polished look creates a smooth, bright finish. The abrasion process works its way up to a high shine akin to a mirror.

Used with: Aluminum, brass and stainless steel

Oil Rubbed

An aged look is created on brass of bronze metals by using chemicals to darken the surface. You’ll see this finish in historic renovations when hoping to achieve an aged look.

Used with: Brass and bronze

Primed

We generally associate “primed” with painting your house or furniture. This process applies to metal, too. Primed metal is highly detailed to give a unique finishing look. A primed finish gives the metal an extra layer for durability and longevity by limiting rust and corrosion. With steel, a plastic primer provides ideal durability and corrosion protection.

Used with: Aluminum and steel

Satin/Brushed

This finish showcases the metal by mixing a shine we all yearn for with a brushed texture. We achieve this through metal brushing where a belt grinds the metal to create fine lines. We polish it with fine bristled brush and soften it with a greaseless grit compound or abrasive, nonwoven belt or pad. This is what gives it a frosted appearance. You’ll most commonly find this finish in bathrooms. 

Used with: Aluminum, brass, bronze and stainless steel

Statuary/Antiqued (light, medium or dark)

Like oil rubbed finishes, we use this to achieve a vintage look with brass or bronze metals. You’ll find these grilles in a ballroom, lobby or bedroom.

Used with: Brass and bronze

Let us help you plan your next custom metal grille project, or provide more information about any of our other services. Contact our experienced team at 631.482.9449 or sales@cocometalcraft.com. If you’re in need of some inspiration, feel free to take a look at our extensive Grille and Metalwork catalog.


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