4 Sheet metal design detailing techniques to lower fabrication costs
September 22, 2023

4 Top Sheet Metal Design Detailing Techniques to Lower Fabrication Costs

Metal fabricators place a premium on accurately communicating design intent through detailed yet uncluttered fabrication shop drawings. Using standard industrial procedures for modelling and drafting will reduce rework and maximise savings.

Industrial machinery, furniture, kiosks, doors, windows, HVAC equipment, roofing, and electrical enclosures all regularly use sheet metal components. Also, each component, assembly, and sub-assembly is manufactured using a unique strategy.

To create these one-of-a-kind items, a typical sheet metal fabricator invests a significant amount of time, effort, and money. It necessitates a thorough comprehension of design elements, parameters, such as sheet thickness, bends, holes, slots, and notches, as well as their unique standards. Effective sheet metal component modelling requires designers and fabricators to have a solid understanding of the dynamics of production processes and types of materials.

Advantages of Adopting CAD for Custom sheet metal fabrication

Fabricators in the MSME and SME sectors of the sheet metal industry today who make furniture, building components and process equipment must overcome difficulties like the following:

  1. Keeping costs and quality of premium components and assemblies under check.
  2. Providing improved connectivity throughout the manufacturing value chain to meet industry 4.0 requirements.
  3. Providing a variety of product design prototypes for the benefit of the consumer.
  4. Managing resources while keeping an eye on return on investment

For manufacturers, CAD technology has greatly shortened the time from design to manufacturing and improved the modelling accuracy of sheet metal parts.

How CAD helps in reducing fabrication costs?

  • Rework and redesign of sheet metal components can be reduced by up to 90%.
  • Savings of 2% to 7% on manufacturing costs.
  • Processes from design to manufacture are accelerated by 40–70%.
  • 60% increase in the team’s output

Use CAD design detailing for sheet metal manufacturing to its full potential.

Top 4 sheet metal design detailing techniques to lower fabrication costs

1. Feature Based Parametric Modeling (FBPM)

Because drawings are produced from models, feature-based parametric 3D models and 2D drawings have a parent-child relationship. The design engineer can review modifications in both the 3D model and the 2D sheet metal shop drawings simultaneously because of the bi-directional parametric interface between models and drawings.

Many features are used in complex sheet metal components to demonstrate part functionality and communicate design intent.

When working on a single component, you can directly adapt to normal production procedures by using Design for Manufacturing (DFM) concepts. Using DFM rules when creating 3D models can improve manufacturing processes including nesting, bending, punching, and drilling.

Advantages of Feature Based Parametric Modeling use:

  • Rapid modifications to parts using parametric 3D designs
  • Improved symmetry between features, shapes, and proportions
  • Open doors for rule-based part modelling and design automation
  • Save 70–90% of the time required to produce separate, detailed 2D drawings.
  • Improve the quality of design and manufacturing drawings.
  • Improve team communication through a concurrent setting

2. Top-down Method

A multi-component sheet metal product is modelled using a top-down technique. With the help of this design strategy, you can produce a geometric frame where all parts and subassemblies have specific space requirements. It constructs the master model so that it may be used to customise CTO and ETO features for goods like doors and windows, metal and wooden furniture, etc.

For extremely big and intricate assemblies, a top-down approach is possible using CAD tools. One example of this is a heavy duty bulk material handling facility with more than 10,000 parts in a single master model. These CAD platforms can also deftly handle modest assemblies of door frames made of sheet metal with no more than 20 to 30 parts.

  • Provide limitations for customization while accommodating a large number of components with parametric design elements.
  • encourage automation of large-scale design.
  • Simple manipulation of space limitations and creation of individual components.
  • Assess the effects of changes in dimensions, forms, etc. on other parts and the assembly.

3. Observe the DFM/DFMA Guidelines

Design engineers can record needs based on shop floor capabilities using DFM and DFMA, or Design for Manufacturing and Assembly. By adhering to these rules, the majority of design mistakes that result from deviating from the norm on the factory floor are eliminated.

By designing features like holes, slots, bends, end reliefs, etc., design engineers can better bridge the gap between the real world and the ideal world with the aid of DFM rules.

Engineers can improve designs by limiting the number of production steps and components by using DFMA rules. Due to the simplicity of fabrication and assembly, fabricators can reduce costs and accelerate production with fewer components.

DFM and DFMA benefits:

  • At the design phase, take into account all aspects of the production process.
  • Develop parts that adhere to the requirements of the assembly processes and shop floor facilities with very few design iterations.
  • Reduce the amount of parts in the design assembly to improve it.
  • reduces product cost by 70–80% by using fewer components.
  • increases production speed by almost 30%
  • Manufacturer of stairlifts used DFM guidelines to eliminate manufacturing rework.

4. Definition Based On A Model (MBD) Approach

The incorporation of high level manufacturing and quality information in models is ensured by advancements in tools like SolidWorks. They include provisions for adding information about product manufacture to models, creating a single source of truth for all parties involved in design and production. This idea has a huge potential to address the needs of Industry 4.0 by centralising all information.

A thorough 3D model is used to transmit the full range of product information for manufacturers and suppliers, such as quality measurement, tolerances, additional footnotes, etc.

To enhance collaboration, reduce duplication of effort, and eliminate errors, MBD generates a single, dependable CAD file for the full value chain. MBD can be extremely helpful to manufacturers if utilised effectively in conjunction with DFM, DFMA, FBPM, and the top-down strategy.

Benefits of MBD:

  • Ease of managing manufacturing, quality, suppliers, and product catalogue information.
  • Eliminate the requirement for 2D detailed drawings for manufacturing components.
  • Increase production turnaround time from design by greater than 80%.
  • Effectively describe components or goods to consumers and other stakeholders.
  • Improve cooperation and communication between downstream and upstream parties for higher quality.
  • MBD cuts 50% off engineering lead time for producer of electroform systems, reducing communication and part production problems.

Also Read: Tips for Efficient SOLIDWORKS Sheet Metal Modeling


Manufacturers and fabricators of sheet metal components can accelerate their design cycles by utilising cutting-edge CAD technology and clever modelling techniques in SolidWorks, Inventor, and other tools. Best practises like DFMA, MBD, top-down, and FBPM increase the productivity of design engineers and provide a first-time-right design approach. They reduce the number of design iterations required when modelling sheet metal parts, thereby lowering the overall costs of manufacturing projects.

These industry-recognized best practises have long been in use in the field of engineering design and have been helpful to fabricators. The industry is preparing for Industry 4.0, and shop floor fabricators want better team communication. It’s imperative to adopt workflows like MBD, FBPM, and DFM if you want to remain competitive.

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