Metal Fabricating Trends in 2022

Metal Fabricating Trends in 2022

Across many industries, there have been multiple challenges impacting growth over the past few years. Uncertainty seems to be the norm, and that doesn’t look to be changing any time soon. Metal fabricating trends show that this industry hasn’t been immune to these challenges as well.

Understanding where the metal fabricating industry is going is essential to making sound decisions going forward. While no one has a crystal ball, here are some general trends to be on the lookout for as we finish the last part of 2022 and head into 2023.

Staffing Challenges Persist But Automation is Helping

While the technology to get things done better, faster, and more efficiently exists, we definitely need people to be able to facilitate the use of the technology. The good news is that automation and robotics have made it possible to do more with less in a way that was never before thought possible.

Metal fabrication is most definitely skilled labor. The professionals who work in the industry understand the precision methods used to bend, craft, coat, and work with all types of metal such as aluminum, and steel. Unfortunately, it’s shortages of skilled labor that are often at the root of falling behind in meeting customer demand.

Companies that have adopted a high level of robotic usage and automation remain somewhat insulated from labor fluctuations. One thing is for sure: the metal fabrication industry will be moving to much greater adoption of robotics in 2022 and beyond.

robotics demand in manufacturing

Robotic Demand is Being Driven By Labor Shortages and Other Challenges.

Since many of the tasks metal fabricators do are repetitive, they can be duplicated by robotics which do the job around the clock without stopping. This is perfect in certain situations where tooling and patterns generally remain the same. Robotic arms and actuators are more advanced than ever, capable of precision down to a fraction of an inch.

The one thing robotics sometimes lack is the ability to pivot and handle different tasks. The ability to quickly change robots over to a different repetitive task is something that engineers are currently working on. It’s certainly true that robotics engineers will be highly sought after in the coming decade!

Robotics Are Assisting, Not Just Replacing Humans in The Fabrication Chain

For the skilled labor that continues to be at the heart of the industry, the good news is that the skills they possess will be in demand for some time to come. Much of the development in automation and robotic tasks has been geared towards assisting in human function through better ergonomics and an increase in the speed with which tasks can be carried out.

The Relationship Between 3D Printing and Metal Fabricating Trends Continues To Grow Stronger.

At one time, 3D printing was mainly useful as a product development tool. It was only a matter of time before this amazing technology could be used in the metal fabrication industry.

The newest developments allow for laser melting of metal powder, which then creates a fully functional metal part. The original type of 3D printing used plastic filament, which had very limited use in actual usable parts.

While the technology is still being refined, companies can efficiently make a part on demand with metal 3D printing. There’s almost no waste of materials, which increases overall profitability as well.

Tube Laser Technology is Changing the Way Metal is Fabricated

It’s no surprise that cutting tubes is one of the most common tasks that metal fabricators perform. Laser tube cutting has been revolutionizing the industry with its flexibility and precision. They can be used to cut:

  • Round tubes and pipes
  • Square Tubes
  • Holes in tubes

Currently, tube lasers can accommodate materials up to 14 inches in outer diameter and cut on both 2 and 3 axes. They are amazing for cutting channels and cutting at an angle, which is why they are becoming more and more common in metal fabricating trends.

Lasers can be preferable over plasma due to decreased energy requirements and a higher level of precision. They do have an upper limit in material thickness to work, however. Anyone who works in the laser industry knows just how much it has evolved and how much it is likely to continue to change.

It’s quite possible that over the next few years, tube laser cutting will be able to cut larger diameter pipes, and ones in greater thicknesses. This is one trend to watch over the next few years.

Metal Fabricating Trends: Sheet Metal Choices In 2022

There’s a wide variety of choices in sheet metal materials. Here are just a few:

Steel continues to be the material of choice for sheet metal. It generally offers the best mix of price and utility that customers like. Aluminum continues to be in high demand as well due to its low cost, non-toxic properties, and flexibility.

Supply chain issues have limited the availability of certain types of metal. As the global economy recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, demand surged, and the supply chain couldn’t keep up. 2022 has seen some easing of these pressures.

Metal Fabricating Trends: Steel Prices

With steel being the material of choice for sheet metal fabrication, it’s important to take a look at where prices are heading. The price of steel skyrocketed during the year 2021. Prices swiftly came back to earth in 2022. As we head into the last quarter, it remains to be seen if we’ve seen the bottom yet.

China remains the world leader in steel production. While the COVID-19 pandemic has waned in most of the world, China has adhered to a strict lockdown policy. This has greatly impacted steel production, accounting for huge swings in prices.

Whether or not there is a “winter COVID surge” could greatly impact steel prices as the market heads into 2023.

Inflation

Metal fabrication depends on materials and labor. Both of these are going to be hugely impacted by inflation. In the US, the Federal Reserve is already raising interest rates to help stem the tide of rising inflation. It will be some time before we know just how successful those efforts will be.

Integrated Manufacturing Solutions is Here for You

Regardless of the economic climate, or development of new metal fabricating trends, you can be sure our engineers are here to work with you to get your project done. Think of us as an extension of your own business. Give us a call to get started today.

At IMS, we are more than just a manufacturing company. We are a precision powder coating and sheet metal fabrication business that helps companies of all sizes improve overall costs by providing them with innovative solutions and flexibility that matches their business needs. Our skilled team of engineers provide all-in-one solutions for those needing complete Metal Fabrication services, including laser cutting, forming, welding, hardware, assembly, and powder coating.

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