The future of sheet metal fabrication

Sheet metal fabrication is a fast-growing, innovative industry, and in this blog, we’ll look at what it is, current processes and industry outlook, and what the future holds for sheet metal fabrication companies like FEM…

What is sheet metal fabrication?

 To define sheet metal fabrication, it is a process that uses cutting, punching, folding and assembling to transform flat sheets of aluminium or steel into metal structures or products. The metal is bent, stretched and shaped via cutting and welding to create the finished product.

This process can be used to make all manner of metal products, from garages and lockers to surgical instruments and kitchen accessories.

What are the benefits of bespoke sheet metal fabrication?

 For bespoke metal fabrication, a highly specialised service like that provided by FEM is required.

Tailored products that are the result of bespoke sheet metal fabrication can benefit companies by allowing them to stand out from the crowd, differentiating their product from competitors with metal fabrication work that is unique, rather than standard.

A bespoke sheet metal product also supports efficiency, as compromises aren’t required to ensure a standard option adapts to the needs of a one-of-a-kind product. And the detail allows optimum solutions for all who use and work with it.

Another benefit of sheet metal fabrication is that standards for that specific product are met.

What are the processes in sheet metal fabrication?

 Working with a bespoke sheet metal fabrication company near to you, like FEM, will allow for a tailored service at every stage of the process.

However, as a guide, these are the usual processes involved in sheet metal fabrication:

  • Designing
  • Programming
  • Cutting
  • Punching (CNC punching)
  • Bending
  • Welding
  • Assembly
  • Powder coating

Remember, final products should always be signed off and certified to BSEN 1090.

The current outlook for sheet metal fabrication…

 The sheet metal fabrication industry is incredibly fast growing as it keeps pace with increasing demand, and as more sectors look to sheet metal fabrication for solutions to new problems.

In fact, it is one of the fastest growing industries in the world; the recent replacement of traditional methods with enhanced technology allowing efficiencies that have hugely supported that growth.

Demand for sheet metal fabrication is coming from a number of sectors, including large-scale industries like automotive, aerospace and construction; right down to everyday item manufacturers such as those who make household products.

With an eye on cost and waste, more is being asked of the sheet metal fabrication industry by its clients to improve operational efficiencies and ensure the lifespan of the products it produces.

 How will advancements in technology change sheet metal fabrication?

There are a number of advancements heading our way here at sheet metal fabrication companies like FEM in Sheffield. So with our finger on the pulse of all things ‘sheet metal fabrication’, here is a look at some of the main technologies which are soon to, or already starting to, support the way we deliver high standards:

Automated Machinery

So the use of automated machinery has already been around a good while thanks to the advancements brought by Industry 3.0. But how and when it is used is becoming more advanced, with the tasks automated machinery can perform increasing in their complexity, and the technology itself faster and cheaper to run.

Cyber Security

As technology improves and is integrated into the fabrication of sheet metal, so too does an increased risk of cyber attack.

Automation (above) and digitization (below) mean that hacked technology can expose private data and sensitive information.

Therefore the future advancements of sheet metal fabrication must keep pace with enhanced cyber security.

As most breaches are a result of human error, keeping our team trained on cyber security is something we are really passionate about at FEM.


While there is no call for robotics to replace the skill and experience of a highly-trained sheet metal fabrication worker like those at FEM, the future for our industry will no doubt see the introduction of repetitive, un-skilled jobs, and those that are high-risk, handed over to ‘Co-Bots’ in years to come. This will free up time for our human team to concentrate on areas of production that require thought and expertise; such as bespoke sheet metal fabrication.

3D Printing

The current cost of 3D printing for steel fabrication is too high for most companies in the industry to buy and maintain the machines.

But as those with larger budgets have proved – like NASA – using 3D in the fabrication industry can be practical and flexible. So it’s likely that 3D printing will become a viable production tool in the metal fabrication industry in the future.

Digitization of data

Allowing data to be collected and stored has been transformative for many industries, and it will continue to improve efficiencies in sheet metal fabrication.

The digitization of data means information can be accessed by individuals anywhere, anytime and in real time. Thus allowing different areas of the business to communicate and utilize data quickly.

As this technology allows industries like ours to do more, processes will become increasingly equipped with data storing sensors.

Collecting, measuring and analyzing that data has already, and will continue to have, huge effects on the productivity, efficiency and transparency for sheet metal fabrication companies around the world.

So how will Industry 4.0 change the future of sheet metal fabrication?

Here at FEM, we don’t predict that the wants of our customers will change in the future; they will still seek quality sheet metal fabrication delivered to time and within budget.

However, how we meet those demands is likely to change:

  1. Technology will expand the realm of projects we can undertake.
  2. Efficiencies will reduce the time fabrication projects take to deliver.
  3. Reductions in cost brought on by new technology will be passed on to the client.

For us, new technologies that will enter the sheet metal fabrication industry, like automation, will allow us to be more flexible, fast and scale our production. With a reduction in waste, we can be more sustainable too.

Why use a bespoke fabrication company like FEM for fabrication projects?

 Using a business which specialises in custom metal fabrication services like FEM can be hugely beneficial to the outcome of your project. Want to know more? Have a read of our blog post here. Whether it’s a new staircase or a raised platform, it should answer your FAQs about bespoke metal fabrication.

Alternatively, call us direct on 01909 774 836. Our team loves to find solutions to all metal fabrication problems, and give you bespoke ideas and a tailor-made quote for sheet metal fabrication near you.