Metal Fabrication - Price vs Quality

Jun 24 2016

Cutting corners on metal fabrication only saves money on the front end—if that. As soon as you opt to go for the lowest possible bidder rather than invest in quality, you compromise your final product. If you’re looking for ways to cut costs, taking chances on low-grade welding and fabrication isn’t a great option. It is important to realize how bargain bin fabricators get their prices so low, and what it ultimately means for the quality of your end product:


weld2-1.jpgThe easiest way for a welder or fabricator to cut costs is not dependant in technique or equipment, but in lower quality materials. The less you’re spending on an order, the more likely it is that you’re using foreign steels of dubious origin and quality. Unlike domestic steel, cheap imported steel is far more likely to fail—even if it allegedly meets the same standards. Fraud and subterfuge are far more likely with metal from unknown sources. Before you accept a ‘great deal’ on a metal fabrication job, make sure they’re using domestic steel.


Once you get past the obvious problem of cheap materials, you get into the more insidious world of shortcuts and laziness. No matter how skilled a welder may be, there’s still a hard limit on how fast certain processes can be completed.

A respectable company won’t skip or skimp on those processes called for by the print; one looking to finish as quickly and cheaply as possible might. In the worst scenarios, you end up with welds which aren’t just substandard, they’re out of code. Ensure someone knowledgeable and trustworthy gives any welds good look over before you commit to using a fabricator that offers an unbeatable price.


Metal fabrication also finds itself home to the same sorts of shenanigans found in other contract work—namely, low quotes married to high add-on expenses down the line. Before you assume you’re getting a good deal because you got a great quote, you need to go into excruciating detail on your project with the welder, and get everything down in writing. Otherwise, the two quotes you compare might actually cover very different jobs: the real job, and an imaginary ‘no complications’ job that’s going to draw lots of extra charges throughout. Swanton Welding takes pride in never adding additional charges, because we plan projects thoroughly in advance: there’s no room for surprises nor need for extras.


Another difference between top notch metal fabrication and “value” fabrication lay in the level of customization you can expect. A good team delivers exactly what the customer requests after lots of planning. A “value” team delivers what’s convenient and quick to deliver, even if it’s not quite right. Don’t expect dazzling unique projects to come out of the lowest bidder.


When you work with substandard welders, your project might just end up finished ‘when it’s finished’. Considering the massive expense of late deliveries, you shouldn’t expect to actually save money by going cheap. All you’re doing is introducing a likely bottleneck to your production line.

Storage and transport

swc-project-structural-framework-2.jpgGood materials demand good storage to maintain their quality, yet this is another way that companies save money. If important materials sit outdoors for long periods of time, or the transportation utilized isn’t appropriately secured, they can be compromised—even if it doesn’t show until later.

Final thoughts

Altogether, it is important to understand how to budget for savings without compromising yourself. A top quality team like Swanton Welding may not be your first choice for jobs where quality doesn’t truly matter, but for any project of high importance or requiring special insight you’re going to want to invest in a superior team. That’s why we’re the preferred team for many of our clients. Learn to assess the difference between a job to bid out and a job to hire quality for, and you'll see much better results.  

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