Steel fabricators have a vast knowledge that is virtually untapped by todays engineers and designers. Most fabricators don't have the resources within their companies to design structures without outsourcing the actual load calculations or flow charts that are required to be "stamped" by professional engineers. Most leave that up to engineering firms however, most have years of combined experience from various industries and applications that could be tapped by the designers.
Fabricators have seen how everyone else has done it. Of course they cannot share proprietary information with other companies but they can share their own ideas. All fabricators have suggestions on how to make projects more cost effective for the end user and ways to positively impact a projects constructability. For instance, it could be as simple as centerline spacing or flange sizes. Most designer don't have an understanding of standard sizes. There are always many sizes that are suitable for a given load or the size of a flange. Its easy to draw a 1/4"X2 1/4" flat bar flange on a chute but it is not always readily available, whereas a 1/4"X2 1/2" may be.
Call your fabricator or steel supplier to find out common sizes and common lengths. Try to keep centerline spacing for columns in building structures in twenty foot increments where possible. These sizes are readily available in structural sizes and the drops will be minimized. Try to use sizes that are compatible for your fabricator when detailing projects. Find out what the capacities are on their machines and try to stay within those parameters when possible. These are just a few things that can be taken into account when designing and detailing that can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line of a budget.Brian Law is the president of Dynamic Fabrication Inc. located in western Kentucky. Dynamic Fabrication is a steel fabricator of material handling and processing equipment. They work with engineering firms and general contractors across the nation, primarily in the coal and aggregate industries, with extensive experience in bins, hoppers and chutes; they have a quick turnaround on small structural projects of 40-50 tons. Dynamic Fabrication has in-house detailing and painting capabilities coupled with a can-do attitude. They can be reached at the website at
Steel Fabrication by DFI