What are the factors that determine the cost of your sheet metal components
Sheet metal fabrication is a versatile and widely used manufacturing process across various industries, from automotive to aerospace, construction to electronics. Understanding the cost of sheet metal fabrication services is crucial for businesses and individuals alike, as it can significantly impact project budgets and profitability.
In this blog, we'll delve into the key factors that influence the cost of sheet metal fabrication, including setup costs, hourly rates, materials and delivery.
Setup Costs and Batch Size
One of the primary factors affecting the cost of sheet metal fabrication services is the setup cost. Setup costs encompass all the expenses associated with preparing the machines, tools, and materials for a specific job. These costs include programming CNC machines, tool selection, material handling, and machine setup. The key point to note is that setup costs remain relatively constant regardless of the batch size.
For small batch sizes, the setup costs have a more significant impact on the per-unit cost. In contrast, for larger batch sizes, the setup costs are spread out over more units, resulting in a lower per-unit cost. This relationship highlights the economy of scale in sheet metal fabrication.
The second major factor influencing the cost of sheet metal fabrication services is the hourly rate for each task involved. This hourly rate typically covers labor, overhead, and profit margins. However, the hourly rate can vary depending on the complexity of the fabrication task.
Complexity can be measured by the machinery required such as laser cutting, the need for any specialised folding tooling, skillled design or welding labour, the number of processes in order to assemble the job and the desired finish. The more complex a project is, the higher the hourly rate is likely to be, or the more hours that will be required. Skilled labour, specialised equipment, and additional quality control measures are often required for intricate or highly precise work, all of which contribute to a higher hourly rate.
Material Grades and Prices
Metal is a commodity, meaning that trade prices vary almost daily. These variations are typically small enough for the fabricator to absorb within their pricing rather than having to regularly update prices. However market conditions can occasionally cause a dramatic spike. When the Covid pandemic hit the UK, steel prices tripled almost overnight which was an unprecendented change in material price. These costs must be passed onto the consumer.
Different materials also have a large impact on the price. For example, the cost of stainless steel is typically more than triple the cost of mild steel. This cost is often worth the benefit of preventing rust when in corrosive environments, or may even be an industry requirement such as in the food industry.
Within any given material category (such as stainless steel) there are various different grades of material with different properties. For example grade 316 is more expensive than grade 304.
Another crucial factor to consider is the cost of delivering your fabricated sheet metal components to your location. Delivery expenses can vary significantly based on several factors:
Distance: The farther the delivery destination is from the fabrication shop, the higher the transportation costs. Choosing a local fabrication shop or one with convenient shipping options can help reduce delivery expenses.
Shipping Method: The choice of shipping method, whether standard ground shipping, express delivery, or freight shipping, will also impact costs. Larger and heavier components may require specialized freight shipping, which can be more expensive.
Packaging Efficiency: Efficient packing of your fabricated components can reduce the volume and weight of the shipment, potentially lowering shipping costs. Packaging solutions that optimize space and minimize the risk of damage are essential.
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