- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 19 Feb 2021
Stainless steel fabrication in building
The role of stainless steel fabricators is to take the raw pre-fabricated material and transform it into finished items, from shower trays to cutlery. In this article we take a look at the nuts and bolts that hold this thriving industry together.
In the past, there were many different types of metal fabricators. The fabrication of jewellery, for example, has been in place since prehistoric times. It required little more skill than the ability to gouge and chew gold into a head-sized ring. However, as metal fabrication evolved, it became ever-more sophisticated and specialised. Techniques to increase the purity, durability and strength of such products were developed, and the smithing profession was born.
Blacksmiths hammered early steels into shapes as diverse as horseshoes, weapons, armour, tools, and jewellery. Then there were objects like chains, locks and keys, not to mention parts for machines such as siege engines, portcullises or even instruments of torture. While these all required a huge variety of fabrication skills, the range and quality of products is tiny compared to the vast array crafted by stainless steel fabricators today.
 Experts and specialists
Given stainless steel's ubiquity in modern industry, agriculture, architecture, hospitality and in homes across the world, the modern-day blacksmith would really need to be a jack-of-all-trades to grasp the range of industries served by this profession.
However, with the industrial revolution came specialisation. These days, the best fabricators know how to make specific types of unique and enduring products for each customer, and also know the best steels for the job at hand. This division of labour provides vital specification for the contemporary customer. For example, a car is a car, but you wouldn't take a Toyota problem into a Mercedes garage. Stainless steel fabricators know their products, their customers, and the support that's required after the sale. Indeed, they have to know this in a market that demands expertise and specialist knowledge.
The primary reason for this is that such products will last a lifetime. It is used in the construction of buildings that are designed to endure generations of weathering, and in tools that must withstand decades of toil and friction. It is used to make sterile, non-reactive containers for carrying everything from purified drinking water, through to hazardous corrosive materials, sewage and waste products. It is used in laboratories, shower units and kitchens. These products must not chip, crack or rust.
A large majority of stainless steel fabrications are completely bespoke, being tailored to the client's specific requirements. Given that they will be creating a unique product that should last a lifetime, it is in the interests of both parties to communicate closely. Stainless steel fabricators are well-versed in not only the production aspect, but also the issues surrounding installation and maintenance.
As industrial procedures evolve, or fashions in household aesthetics change, those in stainless steel fabrication must adapt to suit the changing needs of their customers. The client needs an experienced team that can work through the job with them, catering to their unique requirements and giving close attention to each stage of the project. A top manufacturer in the industry will have a team with great experience and a reputation that has been established over years, if not decades.
They will take the product from inception, and go through all the necessary stages from cutting and shaping of pre-fab materials, through fixing and welding, to the finished and polished product, all the while maintaining dialogue with the client to ensure that the job meets the highest standards and quality. From start to finish, stainless steel fabrication should be an exercise in attention-to-detail and customer care.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Tech tools to help manage people and space post-pandemic.
A style that ranges from mock Tudor to arts and crafts to the 'Wrenaissance'.
Free guide from Secured by Design.
BREEAM strategy for sustainability and the circular economy.
Free tool to improve the construction programming process.
Are buildings doing what they're supposed to be doing?
Cities with quick access to everything by foot or bike.
The pressures and pinch points of global destinations.
Making the case for a sustainable future.
Retrofit professionals now entitled to enter CIOB programme.
How, where, when and why stereotypes happen.
Optimising the best features of both energy performance tools.
BSRIA guidance updated in BG 78/2021 publication.
ISO standard supports crime prevention through environmental design.