We may be on the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the United States, but the repercussions are reverberating indefinitely in the manufacturing industry, especially when it comes to sourcing stainless steel via global supply chains.
During the height of the pandemic, steel mills slowed operations to such an extreme degree that now they’re struggling to ramp production back up to normal levels. Combined with other roadblocks like import tariffs and delays in unloading ships, the gap between supply and demand for stainless steel is the worst we’ve ever seen.
Now more than ever, the team at Reata Engineering is relying on our supply chain experience and machining expertise to get parts made quickly and cost-effectively for our valued customers.
Stainless steel is one of the top two most common materials we work with, so we’re having a lot of discussions with customers about factors like material availability, machinability, cost, and lead time.
How Reata Helps Customers Choose the Right Stainless Steel Grade
During the stainless steel selection process, customers typically have a few primary concerns:
- They need a material that offers corrosion resistance
- They need a strong and tough material with physical properties that outperform carbon steel
- They need a hard material that resists extreme wear and tear
At Reata Engineering, we respect that the engineers designing parts are the true material experts. Unlike other machine shops, we’ll never step on your toes and coerce you into using a material that isn’t the best fit for your application.
We are, however, experts in machining and manufacturing. Our goal is to make sure you’re picking a material for all the right reasons. Depending on the application and function of an individual part, we may be able to suggest alternatives that can save you time and money.
When selecting a stainless steel grade, we’ll encourage you to consider:
Availability is the single biggest problem we’re dealing with right now as manufacturers. There’s no telling how long the repercussions from the pandemic will last, so we need to pull out all the stops to get material quickly and cheaply. If you choose a stainless steel grade that’s difficult to source, we may be able to recommend a similar grade that’s easier to procure.
As part of our Design for Manufacturability (DFM) services, we’ll work with you to help you choose a machinable stainless steel dependent on the part type and our unique technology. With our best-in-class equipment, we can machine difficult materials, so you’ll never feel restricted to certain grades of stainless steel.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the cheapest materials aren’t always the most cost-effective. If a material is difficult to work with, the labor and tooling costs can be much higher, ultimately negating the low price of the material itself. For example, 316 stainless steel is more expensive than 304 stainless steel, but it’s a higher quality material that often yields a better product.
If you have any questions about material selection—whether it’s stainless steel or something else—the team at Reata Engineering will always have your back. Request a quote today and we’ll respond within 24 hours.