Steel structures used in industrial environments are being designed to incorporate features that innately guide components into their correct positions during assembly. Known as ‘self-fixturing,’ this slot and tab design simplifies assembly and minimizes the need for adjustment. It basically makes assembly much quicker and easier, with minimal tools. And the structure stays the way it’s supposed to.

Today’s machining technology has made it possible to design and produce components with slots and tabs. A few decades ago, when steel was cut using a shear press, this was not possible. New machines, such as the CNC and laser tables, have made this an option. In addition, only a few years ago, Solidworks introduced a “tab and slot” feature in their design software. This upgrade made the process of adding these assembly features quick and easy for designers.

Self-fixtured steel designs assure that components when assembled align properly to each other. However, every tab or slot carries multiple stress concentrations, and when added to a steel component, there is a risk of disrupting the stress flow and creating high stress areas. The stress area for a slot is mostly located at the 90° corners, and that of the tab is the area where it attaches to panel. These are most apparent when the tab is in tension or bent.

An experienced designer will know how to minimize these stresses and balance between a tight-fitting joint with very small radii, or a loose-fitting slot. Bottom line – it’s important to make sure slots and tabs are designed and positioned correctly to avoid high stress concentrations.

Production Systems provides slot and tab filter frames for our paint booth and oven panels. Incorporating these into our designs allows for much easier installation and the components can be shipped broken down. Production Systems’ Knock Down Filter Frame Components slide together and are easily finished by simply bending the tabs to secure them in place.

Contact us to learn more about our components and connections for spray booth and oven panels. Our engineers are ready to assist you in deciding what you need for your production facility.