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[Behind the Scenes] Making Grill Hinges for Enhanced Outdoor Cooking

[Behind the Scenes] Making Grill Hinges for Enhanced Outdoor Cooking

Posted by Weber Knapp on Oct 11, 2022 12:30:00 PM

making hinges for BBQ smokers - person grilling

When it comes to manufacturing BBQ smokers and grills, proper hinge design is vital. 

Lids for both outdoor cooking apparatuses are often extremely heavy and cumbersome, which can make them a safety hazard. The last thing anyone wants to worry about when working over a live drum smoker or grill is getting injured. 

Grill hinges and smoker lid hinges that upgrade user experience and function require a high level of expertise to create. 

That’s why when you are considering hinges for a BBQ smoker or grill – whether you’re making one for yourself or manufacturing them en masse – you need to evaluate standards throughout the design, testing, and manufacturing process.

How to Make Heavy-Duty Hinges Drum Smoker Hinges

No two grills or drum smokers are the same. Their components, such as their lids, are unique, thus requiring custom counterbalance solutions (one of our specialties). 

Our grill hinge manufacturing process can be boiled down into a few key steps. These phases are often very fluid, and they include:

  1. A conversation with sales
  2. Design
  3. Prototyping & testing
  4. Manufacturing
  5. Shipping

 

1. A Conversation With Sales

It all starts with sales. Skilled sales professionals are info-gatherers who get all the details from the customers using a standardized grill hinge specification sheet for reference. These specs often include, among others:

  • Lid weight
  • Desired range of motion
  • Soft close or soft open?
  • Temperature considerations
  • Lifestyle

Many customers are already making grills, so they know what they want and need. However, sales pros still need to raise awareness about what counterbalance hinges can do because some customers don’t realize how much value and safety counterbalancing can add to a product.

There are all sorts of interactions that occur between customers and sales about feedback and revisions on products. Communication is key during this phase to make sure specifications are on point.

2. Design

Once a product is settled on, the sales team pulls in the product designer to start drawing up the heavy-duty smoker hinge or grill hinge. In most cases at Weber Knapp, design services are offered at no charge. Typically, there are regular meetings with the customer to work through the design process and make sure everyone is on the same page about the goals of the end product. 

A major part of the design process is the finite element analysis (FEA). The FEA determines if a load-bearing product – like a counterbalance lift hinge – will fail due to stress. 

An FEA is a proven way to break up the part being designed into finite elements and analyze each piece for stress. You can determine particular areas of high stress and load/restrain the part in different ways. The team can take the FEA study and run fatigue tests to determine the safety of different elements depending on the application.

Once the studies are complete, the design team will present multiple concepts, then produce prints and a preliminary price estimate. The customer can give a target cost and indicate how close the manufacturer can get to the target cost. Sometimes, the manufacturer can meet the target cost and additional features may be added outside of that range.

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3. Prototyping & Testing

Once there is an agreement on price, prototyping begins. This process is very customer dependent. A proof of principle prototype proves that the part will function, but seeing it in real life might spark new ideas or potential changes, requiring another iteration for the bbq grill lid hinge. 

Different levels of testing can also determine whether many iterations of prototypes are needed. Weber Knapp does all of its testing in-house, and customers can use that data to compare with their own tests as needed. 

4. Manufacturing

Upon successful testing, manufacturing begins. At Weber Knapp, all manufacturing is done in the US for motion control and counterbalance hinges.

If special tooling is needed, a purchase order for tooling is submitted. Once any custom tooling has been implemented, manufacturing can go into full swing. 

Weber Knapp has a range of manufacturing capabilities in-house, which speeds up production and lowers lead time. Some of these capabilities include:

Throughout the manufacturing process, frequent inspections guarantee the quality of the parts. 

Manufactured parts are then finished per the customer’s instructions, often using powder coating or electroplating.

Once the parts are finished, the product is assembled. Assembly can include riveting or screwing components together. Weber Knapp implements cellular manufacturing for all assembly operations, which gets the part off the shop floor and into customer hands faster. 

After assembly, one more final inspection is conducted to make sure everything is in order.

5. Shipping

Assembled products can be shipped right to the client or even drop-shipped to the client’s customers.

Heavy Duty Smoker & Grill Hinges Made for You

Whether you’re looking for counterbalance hinges for your high-end grill or your line of medical centrifuges, production is very similar. No matter the project, counterbalance and motion control engineering can improve product safety and efficiency. 

Can Your BBQ Smoker or Grill Benefit From Motion Control?

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Topics: Ergonomics, Design, Counterbalance, Engineering, Hinge, Hinges, Smoker, Testing & Prototyping, Manufacturing