Metal Fabrication: 9 Tips To Optimize Your Design for a Metal Fabrication Project

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Are you creating a custom product out of metal? Struggling to turn your idea into reality?

It can be hard creating a design that can be fabricated into something functional without shelling out tons of money.

Many big-name fabricators leave the entire design process to you or can only create stock fabrications.

This can lead to long lead times, products that aren’t functional, and lots of headaches.

Any metal fabrication project begins with design, so let’s start there. In this article, we will give 9 tips to optimize your design to ensure success in your fabrication.

Let’s dive in!

What Is Custom Metal Fabrication?

Everywhere you look, there is a product that was created by metal fabrication, from your cellphone to the car you drive. So what is meta fabrication?

It is the use of fabrication technologies, such as laser cutters, to manufacture a product out of sheet metal or other flat metals. With this thinner metal, you are able to create shapes and intricate designs.

Unlike generic mass-market fabricators, custom fabrication allows for flexibility in design so you can craft the perfect project.

9 Tips To Optimize Your Design

In order to fabricate a successful project, you need a high-quality, well-thought-out design. When you optimize your design, it can help with saving money, faster lead times, improved durability, and more!

Here are 9 tips our expert fabricators put together to help you.

  1. Provide As Much Information As Possible In Your RFQ

When submitting your request for a quote (RFQ), you will want to provide in-depth information on the project and its requirements.

Things you can include are:

  • Specifications
  • Design drawings
  • Plans
  • Engineer drawings
  • Point of contact
  • Desired completion date

This helps the manufacturer give a more accurate estimate of the time frame and costs.

  1. Clarify Design

Once the fabricator takes your order, it’s time to get granular with your project’s specifications and design.

You’ll want to specify:

  • Radius
  • Thickness
  • Holes
  • Tolerances
  • Flatness
  • Height, Width, and Length

The more you include in your design the more the fabricator will be able to meet expectations and reduce errors.

  1. Collaborate With Your Fabrication Partner Early On

To make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself when planning, it is important to collaborate with your fabricator early on. This way, you can make sure expectations are realistic and the design is feasible.

They can also give you advice and suggestions to help optimize your design and ensure everything is set for the fabrication. For example, they may be able to give suggestions on how you can simplify the design to save you money.

  1. Simplify Unnecessary Details

It’s easy to let yourself get lost in the details. While we want you to be detailed with your design, if there is too much unnecessary detail, it can lead to confusion.

Ask yourself:

  • Does the element contribute to the function?
  • Is anything redundant?
  • Are elements overly complex?

This can make it hard for your fabricator to decipher your design and can add to costs and cause delays.

  1. Test Before Production

There is nothing worse than having an amazing idea that fails. It’s even worse when it fails after it’s been released into the market.

That’s where prototypes come in. Your fabricator will create a prototype that you can use to test your concept and design. You can even have a focus group where you have end users try the prototype to make sure it is easy to use.

  1. Select Materials Carefully

There is a wide variety of materials to choose from when fabricating, but that doesn’t mean they are all the right fit for your project. Consider the environment it will be in and how it will be used.

Certain factors can impact your materials, such as:

  • Force – heavy impacts or bending
  • Temperature – extreme heat or cold
  • Corrosive materials – air, water, or chemicals
  • Lifetime – how long your product is meant to last

The type of material you choose can affect the price, lifespan of the product, and efficiency of production. If you are unsure what material is best for you, don’t worry. Your fabricator should be able to assist with the selection process.

  1. Choose Finishing Options

Another element that can ensure your project can withstand elements and function correctly is the finishing.

There are several options for finishes, including:

  • Metal plating
  • Powder coating
  • Anodizing
  • Galvanizing

Having the correct finish can make sure your fabrication has the right text, shine, and color as well as protect your material from harsh environments.

  1. Consider All The Different Fabrication Techniques & Machines

There are several techniques that can be used to create your desired results.

The most common are:

  • Cutting – can use tools such as plasma, laser, or water.
  • Punching – metal placed between a punch and die
  • Stamping – uses male and female dies
  • Bending – press brakes bend sheet
  • Roll Forming- bending on a long sheet to create cross-section

Different techniques require different machines and have their own unique process.

  1. Pick a Partner That Understands Your Business & Its Needs

What makes the perfect fabricator? Years of experience, personalized customer service, and high-quality work.

You will want to pick a partner that has experience working in your particular industry so they can advise on best practices and follow all industry regulations.

Additionally, you want a fabricator that has in-house engineering and design services. They can provide valuable tips and ensure that everyone working on your project is on the same page.

Start Saving Time & Money With High-Quality Fabrication and Design Advice

Ready to get started? We can help! Hallmark Nameplate has more than 60 years of experience fabricating products for companies in all industries.

We can help you throughout the entire design and fabrication process to ensure everything exceeds expectations. From helping you cut back on unnecessary design edits and pick the perfect material and finishing for your project, you’ll never be in doubt when you work with Hallmark Nameplate.

Contact us today to learn more about our custom metal fabrication services. Request a quote to see how we can help your business stand out.

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