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A Quick Look at how Safes Are Made


Safes are a reality in today's world. Unfortunately, things like safes and keys and locks are needed to protect people and things from those who would steal or otherwise do harm. Given this reality, most of us instinctively understand the need. But, we tend to take for granted that we can just buy a safe to suit our needs without really giving much thought to the efforts and processes behind bringing those safes to market. Lets take a look, albeit briefly, through a pretty amazing manufacturing process. Drum roll please: How safes are made.

The first bank safes were made out of wood reinforced with sheet iron. Thieves would just smash them open. Then came safes made out of solid iron. Thieves would just blow them up. Then to their dismay came safes made out of steel. It all starts with sheets of solid steel, up to 3.5 cm thick, and an automated machine with oxygen and gas fueled flame. The flame slowly cuts the sheets that will become the walls of the safe. The cutting creates gases that are doused with water. A welder, with a manual version of the same flame, cleans things up with a few last cuts. Then, using a large magnet, they stack the plates and label them. This makes it easier for the workers to know in what order to assemble them. They are assembled by a welder who uses a semiautomatic soldering gun. The solder is a special welding wire made out of several different metals. It rolls off a spool as needed. Think of sparks, pretty blue flame, big gloves and a sweet welding mask.

Elsewhere in the factory, a semiautomatic saw cuts flat bars of steel. These bars will form the frame that surround the steel plates that safes are made of. Meanwhile, another machine, called a turret, fashions steel bars into moving parts for the locking mechanism, and also into hinges. Lubes are used during this process to help keep things cool. Normally, raw material would move along on an assembly line from tool to tool. This process, however, is just the opposite. The steel bar stays on the turret from start to finish. The tools come and go. The bars and hinges made here for the safes are boxed up for delivery to other workers down the line.

These workers take pieces of sheet metal cut into shapes by laser, and bend them in a press to make various parts and mechanisms. Lots of special care and attention to detail goes on at this stage. These presses are massive powerful machines that could easily sever fingers, or otherwise injure a careless worker. Meanwhile, the large steel plates used to make safes, that were cut earlier, are put in a large hydraulic press to be made perfectly flat.

Finally, the time comes to put all the parts together. They construct the frame in an assembly jig, then insert the plates for the top, sides, and bottom. They solder it together, check for square, and install the back. Now the safes go off for grinding and painting. In the finish department, the workers install the mechanical or digital locks, and all the other amenities that make modern safes so attractive and functional.

So there you have it, a quick look at how safes are made. Next time you are looking at a safe, take time to appreciate the skill and labor that went into protecting your valuables.