Metal manufacturing, like other types of manufacturing, has been struggling with global economic shifts such as China's continuing manufacturing developments, and Brexit's impact on the stock market and world trade.
Along with this barrage of economic problems, metal manufacturing is still fighting long-disproven myths and misconceptions. These doubts may have been legitimate ten, fifty, or a hundred years ago, but modern technological advances have erased most of these concerns.
Let's dispel nine incredibly common myths about metal manufacturing.
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Metal Manufacturing Myths That Need to Die
1. Metals are more expensive to manufacture than other types of materials.
With the advent of automation, advances in tooling and machinery, and considering total ROI, metals are just as affordable as other materials.
When you consider their durability, strength, and low maintenance requirements, metal can easily be more affordable in the long term. Woods, plastics, and other materials can't compete with the lifespan, strength, and re-usability of metals.
2. The best metal manufacturing solution is the one that uses the lightest amount of material.
When you're looking for a metal manufacturer, you should understand that the cost to produce the parts (materials & production) is not the only cost you'll be paying. Thinner, lighter materials may require more fabrication, support, maintenance, or repairs in the long run.
Those costs can easily add up for you, while your manufacturer reaps the rewards.
3. Corrugated steel is not a durable solution for structural projects.
Corrugated (or galvanized) steel is an incredibly durable and long-lasting material for buildings and infrastructure. With the appropriate design and coating, galvanized steel (both sheet metal and tubing) can last for up to a hundred years in structural applications.
4. Steel is only a good material for industrial metal projects.
Steel isn't just mild or carbon steel; it's also stainless, galvanized, and coated steel. The latter forms of steel are very modern and sleek in many retail and design-focused projects. In the right setting, even mild, carbon, and other unfinished steels can create a unique, primitive aesthetic.
In short, it's all about how you use it.
5. Galvanization is too expensive for most projects.
With its low maintenance requirements, increasing process efficiencies, and relative stability of zinc, galvanization is increasingly the most affordable coating for most projects. Powder coating, painting, and other coatings have seen consistent increases in price compared to galvanization.
6. American metal manufacturing can't compete with offshoring.
Absolutely false. Those who sing the praises of outsourced manufacturing are ignoring the multiple hidden risks that come with keeping your supply chain and your product so far from your line of sight.
All things considered, American manufacturing is safer, more affordable, and more stable than outsourcing.
7. You need a high volume to come out on top.
Although higher volumes generally mean a better price overall, you don't need to make industrial-sized orders to make a profit. Again, because of advancements in manufacturing technology, it's more affordable than ever to produce metal products in both large AND small volumes.
Metal manufacturing has a huge list of capabilities and services under its umbrella. Some are more cost-effective for small volumes, others for larger volumes. For example, roll forming vs. press braking. Your manufacturer should be able to tell you which process will best suit your needs.
8. In structural products, concrete is more durable than steel.
This is demonstrably false. Concrete is subject to the same corrosive elements, wear and tear, and inclement weather as structural steel.
The Eads Bridge in St. Louis is famous for a few reasons: it was the first alloy steel bridge in the world (completed in 1874), at its completion was the longest arch bridge in the world, and it's the oldest steel bridge in the U.S.
The bridge's steel structure is standing strong well over a hundred years later. We've also provided hollow structural sections for the Tappan Zee bridge in NYC - we expect it to be carrying traffic for a very long time.
9. Aluminum is just as good as steel in most cases.
Different metals are not interchangeable materials, especially in high-stress or industrial applications. Although aluminum is lighter than steel, it's also weaker, more expensive, and less durable in humid and salty environments. If your project depends on the strength or durability of your metal, you cannot substitute aluminum for steel.
For all of your projects, check with your manufacturer to make sure you're using the best type of metal for your application. It can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Want to learn more about metal manufacturing?
We're involved in every step of the process, from design to packaging and shipping - give us a shout if you have any questions!
Or, you can check out this article on American Metal Manufacturing Trends in 2016.