As you may have already realized, there are many topics within the metal cladding industry that can cause confusion to those new to the industry. Whether to specify an MCM manufacturer or fabricator is one area of confusion that we come across a lot.
In fact, the answer is quite simple but before we give you that let’s look at the differences between the manufacturer and the fabricator and their specific roles to help you better understand their importance and their differences.
The MCM manufacturer is responsible for producing the sheets of MCM. This process involves the skins and the core being fused together in a continuous coil process. There are also some manufacturers that press skins to a core one sheet at a time, however, this process generally produces a lower quality material that is not suitable for façade cladding as it will not withstand the harsh environmental conditions that most exterior facades are required to contend with.
The MCM fabricator purchases sheets from a manufacturer and is then responsible for transforming them into fabricated metal wall panels according to the requirements of the project. This is often done by cutting, routing, and folding and then attaching other installation system components so that the completed panels can be installed onto the exterior of the building.
The façade panel system that is affixed to the panels is determined by the fabricator. They will either use their own installation system using aluminum extrusions, or they may use a third-party’s tested installation system. This may also be the system that has been specified by the architect.
Note: The installer is responsible for installing the fabricated metal wall panels onto the building. They will need to be trained and experienced using the selected installation system prior to commencing the project.
So, back to the main question which one should I specify? The MCM Manufacturer or the Fabricator?
As you may have already guessed, the answer to this question is “both” as they are as equally important as each other.
Another important factor relevant to both specifications is the many testing requirements. Some of these apply to the manufacturer and some to the fabricator. Anything related to the MCM material such as fire rating and surface finish is the responsibility of the Manufacturer. Tests that are specific to the fabricated panel such as wind loads, water penetration, hurricane testing, and impact resistance generally apply to the fabricator.
It is important then to clearly differentiate between the Manufacturer and the Fabricator in your specifications. A sample of specifications that make this clear can be found at [insert link]. We also recommend that you consider specifying the installation system you would like used on your project too.
If you are new to specifying fabricators, we also partner with a large network of fabricators across the country and would be happy to recommend a company or companies that we felt could be a right fit for your project.
We hope that this article has helped build a greater understanding of the Metal Wall Panel industry. If you have a question that you would like our team to answer, simply email us here.