7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Sheet Metal Fabricator

June 26, 2020

Partnering with the best sheet metal fabricator is critical to the success of your company if you are needing fabricated parts.

Sheet metal fabrication is a delicate task that requires the right equipment and utmost diligence to get it right. If you’re in the aerospace or telecom industry, you probably understand just how important the right sheet metal fabricator is to the success of your projects.

Unfortunately, finding a good sheet metal fabricating company is easier said than done. Though there are plenty of sheet metal fabricators, you’ll find that only a handful meet your expectations.

Most companies need nothing less than stellar service from a sheet metal fabricator. If you’re on the hunt for a sheet metal fabrication company, here are a couple of questions you can ask to ensure you get the right company for the job.

What Questions Should You Ask a Sheet Metal Fabricator?

There are tons of sheet metal fabrication companies, and you can easily find one by doing a quick online search. However, to find the right one, you may have to do some digging around.

If you don’t want to play dice with your project, here are a few questions to ask a sheet metal fabricator to know whether you’re in the right hands.

1. What Projects Have They Previously Worked on?

In specialty companies like metal fabricators, the number of operational years doesn’t always tell you everything about the company’s experience. Instead, it’s the number of projects similar to yours that the company has worked on that gives you a better picture of their experience as it relates to your project.  For example, if your project is for the aerospace industry, then you wouldn't want to select a fabricator that isn’t familiar with the requirements of that industry. 

Ask the company what other projects they’ve done to gauge their level of experience. Ask to see their portfolio; most fabrication companies have portfolios. If the company doesn’t have one, then that’s a definite red flag.

You can also ask to see previous clients’ testimonials. Don’t trust the online reviews too much, because anyone can write an online review without even dealing with the company in the first place.

Find out whether they have worked on a project that’s similar to yours. If they have, then you can be even more confident about the company you’re dealing with.

2. What Equipment Do They Use?

In any metal fabrication company, one factor you can’t overlook is their equipment. In fact, a sheet metal fabricator is only as good as its equipment and staff.  So please ask to see the company’s equipment or at least some information about their equipment.

A company with state-of-the-art equipment is more likely to meet your requirements. Among the equipment you should look for include new punch presses and lasers, good press brakes that can accommodate your parts, graining equipment to put nice finish on the parts and hardware insertion machines, to name a few.

Fabrication technology has evolved over the years. Nowadays, we have precision machines that can cut through thick metal easily. Look for a sheet metal fabricator with such equipment to satisfy your volume requirements.  The newer and more innovative the equipment, the better quality and price the fabricator will be able to give you. 

3. How Versed Are They With Metal Fabrication Techniques?

Equipment aside, the right sheet metal fabricator should also be well-acquainted with industry-specific metal fabrication techniques. Some companies approach metal fabrication as a refined art and not just a regular process. If you can find such a company, then you’ve hit the jackpot.

Most metal fabricators work with all types of metal including copper, brass, aluminum, and stainless and mild steel. However, the company you choose should also have enough skilled labor and machinery to handle the project at hand.

If your parts require welding then you want a company that offers both MIG (metal inert gas) and TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding.  Compare the capabilities between a couple companies before choosing one. 

4. What is Their Average Employee Tenure?

It’s not enough for a company to only have the latest fabrication equipment and machinery. The company also needs capable staff that know how to operate the machines and equipment.

As such, it’s important to ask how the company hires its talent. Ask for a brief explanation of the company’s hiring policies. This should give you a picture of the company’s labor situation and whether they’re a good fit for the project.

A good indicator is if all the company’s staff have AWS certification and clear hiring policies. If all the skilled staff have AWS certification, it means that the company has a thorough hiring policy, which is just what you want.

5. Does the Company Provide Engineering Services?

Finding a manufacturing company that can also provide engineering and design services is a big benefit, because it allows you to have the manufacturing experts add value to your products by improving them for manufacturability.  Design for manufacturability means that the part is designed in a way that will allow it to be manufactured as efficiently as possible.  A lot of engineers don’t focus on manufacturability when designing parts, plus they often don’t know the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of the manufacturer.  It’s important to know and consider these things during the design process, so that your parts are not unnecessarily expensive or difficult.

Think of engineering and design services as a bonus and not really a necessity. However, if you find a manufacturing company that also offers that, then you will likely save you and your company time and money. .

6. Do They Provide Finished Products?

Ask if the fabrication company fabricates the products to completion. That way you can know whether you have to find another company for the finishing.

If they do, find out whether they do it themselves, or they outsource for these services. A company that does in-house finishing is likely to produce more superior products than one that outsources for finishing.

7. Can They Provide Competitive Pricing in a timely fashion?

While price shouldn’t be your main or only concern, it is of course an important part of the equation.  You typically do not want to just go with the cheapest price, because oftentimes you get what you pay for and the company with the cheapest price may have missed something in their quoting process which will cost you in the long run.  You want to establish a good relationship with a manufacturer that you can always count on to provide you competitive pricing, so that you aren’t having to quote multiple vendors on every project.  

Another factor is the length of time that a manufacturer needs to be able to provide you with a quote.  You need to be able to get quotes back in a timely fashion, so make sure to partner with 

The Right Sheet Metal Fabricator Is Seven Questions Away

Finding the right sheet metal fabricator, won’t be too difficult if you ask these seven questions. Now, remember to compare services between many fabrication companies before you find one. Also, don’t let cost be the primary factor in choosing a fabrication company; in most cases, you’ll get what you pay for.

If you need professional and expedient sheet metal fabrication services, then request a quote today, and we’ll sort you out.