Beginning a new metal fabrication project can be an immense undertaking. When partnering with a fabrication company, the experience and skills of its workforce, the company’s resources, and its reputation are important factors to ensure that the project meets your full expectations. However, among other considerations, starting a new metal fabrication project entails a number of factors important to the successful completion of the project. Before starting your project, consider and factor in the project’s design, the shop capabilities, the cost, planning, and material selection. Let’s take a closer look:
Every metal fabrication project begins with the design stage. Designs for a project must be readable and easily translated in order to produce the desired product. They should have as much detail as possible to get an accurate estimate of the time, scope, and costs of the project. Shop-ready drawings, engineering drawings, any technical specifications, as well as plans and profiles should be detailed. Such details would include drawings for individual component parts, drawings for an assembly to house the component parts, and drawings for the final assembly of the product. All design-related documents submitted will undergo any number of reviews, testing, prototyping, and final approval before moving forward with the fabrication project. It may be to your benefit to include your fabricator in the early stages of the design process to make sure the final design is fabrication-ready.
Another important factor to consider is in knowing that the fabrication shop you partner with has the capabilities to fulfill your new metal fabrication project. In relation to the size and scope of a project, is that facility large enough? Will it have the space requirements? Does the fabricator have the necessary equipment to provide finished products? Not enough space or not having the necessary equipment can lead to interruptions in production, delays, and failure to meet deadlines, which can be costly on many levels. Make sure the shop has the capabilities to meet your production needs.
In addition to design considerations and capabilities, just as important is receiving an accurate estimate of your fabrication project. It should begin with a formal RFQ (Request for Quote) or RFP (Request for Proposal). Your project requirements should be organized and thorough, with the design, any relevant specifications, timetables, schedules, and necessary logistical information submitted in the RFQ. The cost of a metal fabrication project is far more than simply calculating material and labor. Anticipate other cost factors like the project’s complexity, certifications and compliance requirements, coatings and finishing, shipping or delivery arrangements. There may be associated material costs for hardware or accessories, skilled labor proficient in CAD/CAM software, any third-party inspections to be in compliance. Keep in mind, though RFQs from several sources is encouraged, make note that any price discrepancies may reflect the use of higher quality metals or more experience or that higher costs upfront may translate into better products with fewer costly mistakes over the long term.
The planning stage serves as another first step in any metal fabrication project. More than knowing who does what at what time, planning is integral to a successful outcome of a project. Essentially, planning maps out the full scope of the project and its complexity, based on the design. All parties involved in the fabrication project—fabricator, project manager, engineers, liaisons, and so forth, should be involved.
There is a wide range of metals and their alloys to choose from in metal fabrication projects—carbon steel, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, brass are but a few. That there are so many materials to choose from, it may be good to consult with your fabricator to offer insight into the material best suited for the project. It just may be that the type of fabrication process required of the project may only work with particular materials. That said, selecting the right material for a project will first be influenced by design considerations. The material must hold the necessary mechanical properties required for the product to function as designed, be it corrosion resistance, thermal and electrical conductivity, impact and heat resistance, and so forth. Costs are another factor to consider. In a perfect world, functionality and economy will meet to keep the costs of the project within budget. Ultimately, material selection is also about fabricating high-quality but affordable products.
To learn more about collaborating with Quest-Tech on your next metal fabrication project, please contact us today!