Small shops and individual fabricators are taking on more large jobs that used to be reserved for major manufacturers. However, the margins are slim, and these smaller operations are often less equipped to deal with major disruptions like the current metal supply chain issues. Between soaring material prices, labor shortages, and high demand from customers, fabricators have to work hard to stay profitable.
If mill prices are stretching your machining budget, a local metal supplier may be able to offer affordable, flexible options for metalworking shop materials. In this post, we’ll explore the ways a local metal supplier can reduce your costs with options like verified metal remnants and sample pallets.
Challenges of Finding Metalworking Shop Materials
With global supply chain issues plaguing virtually every industry, just stocking raw metalworking shop materials can be a challenge for fabricators and shops of all sizes.
Metal prices across the board have gone through the roof. Shops are paying record prices for materials like aluminum, steel, and nickel—and that’s if they can even get their hands on them at all. Shops are waiting weeks for materials that used to arrive within days, making it hard to keep work moving. Sometimes, shops are forced to piecemeal jobs together with whatever materials they have.
Cost and delivery disruptions can kill a small metalworking shop. Considering the cost of material, labor, and overhead, a typical fabricator has about a 5-10 percent margin in the best of times. It’s hard to stretch that profit to cover material prices that have doubled or even tripled over the past couple of years.
Metalworking Shop Material Solutions
Fortunately, there are ways to relieve some of the pressure of finding metalworking shop materials.
First, understanding a project’s material requirements can help control metalworking shop material costs. For example, if a part can be made from steel instead of aluminum, material costs can drop significantly. There may be multiple materials or grades of material that will work for the project. Collaborate with customers to explore whether there may be more cost-effective material options than what was originally specified. The thickness of metal part features can also influence the material costs and the cost of fabrication, so design adjustments can also reduce costs.
Steel and aluminum are common small metalworking shop materials, but exotic metals like titanium or nickel-based superalloys are often outside the budgets of smaller shops. However, small and mid-size machine shops and metal suppliers are finding ways to make exotic metals more available.
Many small shops and independent fabricators are finding that verified metal remnants are an affordable alternative to purchasing new metals from the mill. Large manufacturers generate tons of high-quality, usable metal remnants as part of their fabrication processes. These remnants, though too small for the original manufacturer to use any further, are ideal for machine shops and fabricators that don’t require large pieces or newly milled metal. Local metal recyclers like Industrial Metal Service recycle these usable metal remnants and sell them at significantly discounted prices.
Another cost-saving option to consider is a sample pallet of metal. This is a great way to maximize your value when purchasing special materials for testing, prototyping, or short runs. A local metal supplier can help you by assembling a custom pallet of new or remnant metal containing everything you need.
Your Trusted Source for Affordable Metalworking Shop Materials
With more than two decades of offering a wide range of aluminum and other metal stock to customers in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, we’ve earned our reputation as a reliable and trustworthy metal supplier and recycler. Our extensive inventory of aluminum and other metals sourced from U.S. mills, verified metal remnants, and fast, convenient delivery ensure you have the right materials to meet your fabrication, welding, or machining requirements.
Industrial Metal Service uses x-ray fluorescence technology to verify the chemical composition of our metal remnants, so you can be confident in the type and grade of metal you’re getting. In addition to standard materials like aluminum 6061 and stainless steel, we offer verified metal remnants of all kinds of metals, including copper, titanium, tungsten carbide, and more. If you only need small pieces, or you need a variety of alloys in small quantities for testing, Industrial Metal Service can assemble a customized metal sample pallet with everything you need.