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How to Reduce Sheet Metal Fabrication Cost?

Sheet metal fabrication is a popular manufacturing process to create prototypes. Sheet metal fabrication can produce durable parts in both prototype quantity and high volume production. The cost of metal fabrication projects depends on the design, possible prototypes, finishing processes and more. Except for process itself, the chosen materials also affect the cost. So, it is important for have a cost-effective plan to choose the suitable materials for metal fabrication projects. Today, we will talk about the factors that affect the sheet metal fabrication costs and how to reduce the cost for sheet metal fabrication.


We need to have a strong understanding of the cost structure for a pricing strategy. There are many steps involved in metal sheet fabrication which include cutting, bending, roll forming, punching, welding and more.

Sheet Metal Fabrication

Below are the simple ways to calculate the sheet fabrication cost.


1, Break down the production cycle

There are any cycles involved in product development. And production cycles vary from an application to another and there are many different phases. So, we have to break down the cycles into simple process. In this way, we focus on a cycle at a time.


2, Work on the cost of materials

A product may need one to more raw materials. For example, a drywall stud need metal coils, timber tiles and straps. So, we need to estimate the quantity of materials needed in creating a product.


The formular to calculate the raw material cost per unit of product is volume * material density * material cost by Kg = Raw material cost.


For example, material cost of a steel is USD$0.9/KG. The density of 7.4/kg/dm3. And the dimension is 80*40cm. The thickness is 1mm. So the raw material cost is (8 * 4 * 0.01) *7.4 * 0.9 = USD$2.13.


This procedure will be repeated with every raw material used in the process.


3, Add the cost of machining

To add the cost of machining, we have to know the cost of the system or machine, the system’s efficiency and the system’s productivity by hour. The formula to calculate the machining cost is (hourly cost * cycle time for a unit) / efficiency = machining cost.


For example, the cycle time is 13 seconds, and the efficiency of 80% and an hourly cost is USD$80.00. We can have machining cost = (80 * 13) / (0.8 *3600) = USD$0.36.


So, the total direct production cost per part is


Raw material cost + Machining cost = Total product cost

Total product cost (a part) = USD$2.13 + USD0.36 = USD$2.49


So, we can see reducing raw material cost can benefit product cost as it represents a high percentage.


4, The calculation is repeated for different production steps

We have the production cost machine a part from raw material to output. We can use the sheet metal fabrication cost to repeat the procedure for other machines and production phases. This will complete the production cycle until the products are delivered.


What will affect the sheet metal fabrication cost?

Cost estimation for sheet metal fabrication is important for project planning process. Technological advancements help to make the project more cost-effective and easier. It is important to estimate sheet metal fabrication cost. Below is an overview of different factors which affect the sheet metal fabrication cost.


Cost for installation

The ease and time of installation will affect sheet metal fabrication cost estimation. In some cases, fabrication does not bundle installation with raw material cost, adding to the fabrication cost. Installation cost include expenses involved hiring skilled professionals, required licenses or permits for installations, ordering safety gear for installation and transportation cost of transferring fabricated parts to the installation place.


Cost of raw materials

Material selection affects the overall cost of parts. Raw materials fluctuate in cost, affecting how fabricator estimate their cost across the board. Manufacturer’s proximity to materials is also a factor which affect the overall cost. The thickness of the metal is a factor affect material cost and labor cost. If your parts need multiple materials, the cost will be increased. Supply chains may be disrupted in some cases which lead to volatility in raw materials costs.


Cost of plating and welding

Welding pre-plated sheet metal is not safe. Super-heating the treated metal will cause the release of highly toxic zinc oxide from the coating. This does harm to workers and environment. The risks of welding and labor will affect sheet metal fabrication costs especially using pre-plated sheet metal. If you use uncoated rolled steel, you need to do the coating process after the fabrication to improve corrosion resistance properties, which will increase the cost and times. So, you will need to go back your designs and try to avoid welding.


Metal structure

Metal structure affects the cost to fabricate sheet metal. For example, a sheet metal part that can be easily created with one punch will have lower costs compared to parts which need many complex bends. So, the fewer the bends, cuts, and welds used for your project, the cheaper the cost. Tighter tolerances and intricate designs need more production time which will affect cost estimation. Metal structure and design complexity are related to labor costs closely.


Physical work

Sheet metal fabrication need high skilled fabrications which include skillful assembly technicians, certified welders, inspector and more. The number of physical works required to finish sheet metal fabrication process affect labor requirements. This will affect sheet metal fabrication cost estimation. TEAM Rapid, as a leading fabrication manufacturer, we use computer-aided designs to ensure customer satisfaction. CAD/CAM software also need expert skills which also affects the cost. Specialized tooling and equipment pose affect the cost significantly. Getting precise metal cuts and bends needs force, heat and pressure to improve speed and production quality.


How to reduce sheet metal fabrication costs?

1, Choose the suitable raw materials

As the cost of raw materials affect sheet metal fabrication cost, choose the suitable raw materials help to save the money. Stock size of materials are the best choice. It is better to choose the cheapest raw materials for prototypes. For example, use aluminum instead of stainless steel. For the end part production, it is best to choose the most affordable materials which perform the part’s functions.


2, Use a common gauge of sheet metal

Ensure your design use standard sheet gauges and sizes. These standard sheet sizes have cheaper cost compared to special lengths sheets. Thicker materials make it more challenging to get bends and cuts for your part. So, it is best to have your design to a common gauge and choose material grades according to market conditions. This will reduce costs. Ordering variable gauges of sheet metal is a specially which will increase the overall manufacturing costs. So, it is important to work with fabricator a standard gauge which offer sheet metal fabrication services while keeping costs minimal.

3, Try to avoid complex design

The more complex the design is, the more expensive it is. Part which needs several cuts, bends and welds are expensive. Specialized design may look great, but it increases costs significantly. So, we need design for simple angle bends to lower fabrication costs. Try to avoid using small bends on large thick components as it is not correct. Another way to make the fabrication process more cost-effective is to keep bend radius consistent. Do not add features such as bind holes, machined pockets or chamfered edges if they are unnecessary as they will increase time and cost.


4, Consider surface finishing options

Surface finishing selection depends on many factors which include applications of the parts and aesthetic requirements. For example, pre-plated metals are not the best if you need a welded seam. We should consider delaying surface finishes such engraving and screen printing till the end stage of development. Some metal materials are corrosion resistant naturally so they don’t need special surface finishing. Some surface finishing is inexpensive and quicker. For example, chrome playing, passivation, anodizing, powder coating and more.


5, Find a professional fabricator

A professional fabricator is the best choice if you want to have a cheaper sheet metal fabrication. At TEAM Rapid, we are able to complete all the sheet metal fabrication processes ourselves. We help customers to complete the projects from design to assembly. There is no need for additional cost expenditure or outsourcing the process.



There are many factors to consider when beginning sheet metal fabrication. With all the tip of reducing cost and our skilled technicians at TEAM Rapid, we offer leading sheet metal fabrication services to produce high quality parts at competitive costs. Contact us today!

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