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from concept to completion

At BLA Studios our goal is to bring our clients concepts and ideas to life. Sometimes they might have a sketch to show us. Sometimes, they only have an interesting idea for a project. Our design process often starts with a client consultation, where we sit down with our to brainstorm, sketch and model. Once we have all figured out together exactly what they're looking for, we revise and refine the design. After the client approves the final version, we build it.


Below is an example that process for start to finish. This project for Starwood Group consisted of designing, building and installing two different custom wall mounted brackets. These custom fixtures were designed specifically to hang various steel rollers that were salvaged from the decommissioned printing presses at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Some of the rollers weighing as mush as 2 tons. 


Consultation with the client 

We started the design process by meeting our client at the job site and looking at the materials and hearing their ideas.


brainstorm and sketch design ideas 

Based on our first consultation, we started off by pitching several different design ideas, to help our client a better get an idea of what they are looking for.


Finalize design direction

After looking a several possible bracket designs, our client selected these two final bracket designs.


 set dimensions and creat 3D model

After we had two final designs to work from, we set all the proper proportions and dimensions in a 3D model.


 load and stress test model

Because one of the brackets would be hanging a roller that we weighs upwards of 2 tons, we did a load and stress test on the 3D model of that bracket to make sure it would be able to hold the weight of the rollers.


order materials and start fabrication

Now we're ready to build! We started by cutting the various pieces out of the steel plate with our CNC plasma table


Machining and fabricating all parts

Then we machined all the hanger eyes on our lethe and mill and rolled all the different straps to the proper radiuses on a roller. 


Clean and prep all parts for welding

Now that all the parts of both brackets are completed, we preformed any grinding and weld prep that was necessary. 


Welding of the large brackets

Next all the pieces are clamped in place and welded together. Extra care was taken to ensure the larger brackets had excellent weld penetration because of the 2 tons of weight they would be supporting.  


Welding and assembly of the smaller brackets

The smaller bracket design required very minimal welding. Only on the tabs and slots that attaches the back mounting plate to the vertical arms. The rest of the bracket is assembled with 1/2 in. bolts


Finish grinding of the larger bracket

Because all of the mating surfaces of the larger bracket were fully welded for maximum strength, we finish ground all the welds to give it a seamless look. 


apply Penetrol clear coat to small brackets

We applied a coating of Penetrol clear coat to all of the fully assembled small bracket to protect them from rust and corrosion. The small brackets are now ready to instal.


Apply a rust patina to the large brackets to the clients specifications 

A mixture of vinegar and bleach was used to create a dark brown rust patina on the large brackets. This patina was chosen by the client so the brackets color would match other objects BLA Studios had patinaed close by. 


Neutralize the Patina and apply a Penetrol clear coat to the large bracket

The harsh chemicals used to patina the steel need to be naturalized so they don't continue to eat away at the bracket.  After this was complete all of the brackets were clear coated with Penetrol to seal them.Now the large brackets are ready to instal.


Instal all large and small brackets

Now we mounted all the brackets to the concrete columns using expansion wedge anchors. The large brackets were mounted using 6x 10 in long 7/8 concrete anchors and the small brackets were mounted using 4x 8in long 3/4 concrete anchors.


Hang all the rollers on the brackets

A swivel eye was threaded into the end of each roller and it was raised into place with a forklift and hung on each bracket.

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Clean and polish each roller

After years of service in the Post Dispatch printing presses the rollers needed to be deep cleaned of all ink and grime.


Roller bracket design, build and instal is now complete 

This project took a team of 2 fabricators a little over 1month to complete, including design time.  

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