Mastering Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication: A Comprehensive Guide

Stainless steel is an ideal material for sheet metal parts due to its excellent corrosion resistance, mechanical properties, and formability. It is widely used in corrosive and extreme environments like outdoor electrical, aerospace, and chemical industries.
If you want to become an expert in stainless steel sheet metal fabrication, this comprehensive resource is just what you need. This guide includes everything from selecting the appropriate stainless steel grade to cutting, forming, assembling, and applying surface finish to quality inspection – all the valuable information you need for successful stainless steel fabrication.

Mastering Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication: A Comprehensive Guide

What Is Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication?

Stainless steel sheet fabrication involves transforming stainless steel sheets into valuable products such as electrical appliances, medical equipment, or automated components. The fabrication process includes drawing, bending, cutting, and shaping stainless steel sheets to fit specific design requirements. 

What Is Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication

Advantages of Using Stainless Steel in Sheet Metal Fabrication

Stainless steel is a metal that contains at least 10.5% chromium that forms a thin oxide layer on its surface, making it resistant to corrosion and providing a smooth, durable surface. 

Stainless steel offers various benefits for sheet metal fabrication. The benefits are as follows:

  • High durability
  • High resistance to corrosion
  • Excellent formability
  • Easy to form and shape
  • Superior mechanical properties
  • Easy to weld
  • High Versatility
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Cost-effective
  • Good ability to withstand high temperatures and extreme weather conditions
  • Ideal for hygiene applications

Mastering Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication: A Comprehensive Guide

Different Stainless Steel Material For Metal Fabrication

Various grades of stainless steel are available, but the 300 series of austenitic stainless steel is the most commonly used for sheet metal fabrication

Stainless Steel 301 has low chromium and nickel levels but a slightly higher carbon content than 304. It is a cost-effective option for structural parts. 

Stainless Steel 304 is widely used in custom sheet metal fabrication due to its exceptional formability and resistance to corrosion. It is ideal for sheet metal parts such as cabinets, enclosures, and tanks. 

Stainless Steel 316 contains molybdenum, which improves its resistance to corrosion. It is perfect for high-corrosion environments, including marine equipment, reactor tanks, and chemical containers. 

Here is a summary of other essential mechanical properties in the following table:

 Tensile strength (Mpa)Shear Modulus (Gpa)Elongation at break (%)Hardness (Brinell)Density (g/cm3)
301 Stainless Steel20574402178.03
304 Stainless Steel21577701238
316 Stainless Steel29074502178


Regarding sheet metal fabrication, Austenitic stainless steel may be your first choice. However, other options such as Duplex, Martensitic and Ferritic stainless steel can also be considered.

Duplex stainless steel, particularly the 2205 grade, is known for its weld efficiency. 

Martensitic stainless steel is suitable for fabrication, but it is prone to cracking during welding. Therefore, heat treatment is crucial. 

Ferritic stainless steel is challenging to fabricate due to low ductility and grain growth. To improve these properties, the use of austenitic fillers is necessary. Only stabilized grades like 409 can be welded.


Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication Processes

There are several methods for fabricating stainless steel sheets, and the choice of process depends on the design of the parts. Generally, these processes are classified into four categories: cutting, shaping, assembling, and surface finishing. Let’s look at some of the most common methods of stainless steel fabrication.

Stainless Steel Laser Cutting

Metal laser cutting using a high-powered laser to cut through stainless steel. The laser is directed using computer numerical controls and optics to orient the beam as needed. This method offers superior precision to other stainless steel fabrication methods and creates minimal waste.

Stainless Steel Laser Cutting

Stainless Steel Shaping 

When it comes to shaping stainless steel sheet metal, various techniques can be used depending on the desired configuration of the parts. Some of the main techniques include:

  • Punching
  • Bending 
  • Curling
  • Hemming
  • Forming
  • Deep drawing
  • Spinning

Stainless Steel Shaping 

Stainless Steel Parts Assembly

After shaping the stainless steel parts, you can assemble them using various techniques like welding, riveting, using fasteners, soldering, bonding, snap fits, and hemming. Choose an appropriate technique depending on the requirement of the fabricated stainless steel part.

Stainless Steel Parts Surface Finishing

Applying the appropriate surface finish is essential to improve quality and aesthetics when fabricating stainless steel parts. The specific type of surface finish required will depend on the individual needs of your parts.

As Original Finish: As original finish leaves the original part after forming and bending. After welding, pickling, and passivation are carried out to ensure all surfaces have uniform properties. It is the most common surface finish for stainless steel.

Bead Blasting: This process involves gently blasting the surface to create a smooth, uniform matte finish. It is usually applied for cosmetic purposes.

Powder Coating: Powder coating creates an excellent surface finish. Although stainless steel has resistance to a wide range of chemicals, some alloys like 301 or 304 do not perform as well as 316 stainless steel. To improve their anti-corrosion properties, powder coating can be used.

Stainless Steel Parts Surface Finishing

Maximizing Cost Efficiency in Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication

Achieving low-cost sheet metal fabrication is essential for stainless steel sheet metal part manufacturers to remain competitive. Here are some tips for your reference:

Select The Right Stainless Steel Grade

When selecting a stainless steel alloy, choosing one appropriate for the intended use and environment is crucial, considering factors such as chemical compatibility. For instance, SS 316 is more corrosion-resistant than SS 301, but SS 301 is less expensive. Therefore, if the application does not require a corrosion-resistant material, SS 301 is a more cost-effective option.

Simplify The Folds

In the field of stainless steel fabrication, manufacturing complex parts can be quite expensive. To reduce costs, it is recommended that angled bends have a radius equal to or greater than the thickness of the sheet. Creating a small bend on a thicker material can be difficult and expensive. When designing sheet metal parts, it is advisable to choose the simplest design that is the most cost-effective.

Sourcing China Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication

Sheet Metal fabrication companies in China now offer a cost-effective and reliable solution. Chinese companies have gained the upper hand in the industry by adopting new metal fabrication technologies and continuously investing in research and development. Even for OEM stainless steel metal fabrication services, you can still get good value for your money. These companies help design, fabricate, test, and certify stainless steel parts.

Consider Design For Manufacturing (DFM)

Simpler designs are cheaper to manufacture than complex designs with intricate features and geometries. Complicated designs require more cuts, bends, and welds, adding to the production cost. To avoid extra expenses, opt for simple designs and avoid features like machined pockets, chamfered edges, and blind holes. Additionally, choosing standard sizes for punch-form features like ribs and bridge lances can help reduce costs.

Make Fabricated Stainless Steel Parts Prototypes

Testing a prototype is essential when creating stainless steel parts for mass production. It allows you to identify any necessary adjustments to your design before moving on to mass production. Doing so can significantly reduce the cost of sheet metal part fabrication.

Using Advanced Fabrication Tools

Using advanced tools and modern technology, fabricators can produce highly precise stainless steel products and eliminate costly errors. It makes the production process more efficient and generally faster.

Maximizing Cost Efficiency in Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Fabrication


Is stainless steel easy to fabricate?

Yes, stainless steel is often considered easy to fabricate due to its excellent formability and weldability, which makes it a popular choice for various applications. However, the difficulty varies based on the grade and thickness of stainless steel and the fabrication process used.

Why is it critical to know the types of stainless steel you use?

Knowing the various types of stainless steel and their respective applications is crucial when fabricating with stainless steel. Each type of stainless steel has unique properties that make it suitable for specific applications. Picking the wrong stainless steel for your intended application can produce undesired results.

For instance, if you require a highly resistant material to corrosion, then it is advisable to use austenitic stainless steel. On the other hand, if you need a material that exhibits high strength and toughness, martensitic stainless steel is the way to go. By having a clear understanding of the different types of stainless steel and their properties, you can ensure that you always choose the correct material for your application.


This guide covers everything from selecting the appropriate stainless steel grade to achieving low-cost sheet metal fabrication. It includes cutting, forming, assembling, and surface finish application information for successful stainless steel fabrication.

Enze provides stainless steel fabrication services to different types of industries. Our engineers in all forms of metal fabrication can advise you on the most appropriate solution for your application. Contact us for more details.