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Design Assist

Do you have a custom metalwork design that hasn’t been reality-tested or reviewed by a metalworker? 


SF Metalworks offers a Design Assist service for designers and contractors seeking to reality-test custom metalwork designs early in the process. This collaborative approach ensures alignment between approved designs and achievable outcomes, resulting in clearer timelines and budgets. Benefits include reduced project timelines, cost-efficient suggestions, and enhanced collaboration through the incorporation of digital fabrication techniques.

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Let’s be real—bidding and RFI’s are a time consuming process with no guarantee of work. SF Metalworks often sees drawings in the bidding process that make us think, “I wish we could do it this way instead,” but in a competitive bid we rarely have the time or leverage to suggest alternatives.


Even if we are asked to offer suggestions, we believe it’s important to be compensated for our design thinking. Otherwise, we can’t rationalize spending the time it would take to offer truly thoughtful and creative recommendations for a project that may not happen.


Who is this for?
  • Designers, Architects, or Contractors who have a high standard for quality craftsmanship and wish to accurately set client expectations before beginning the fabrication process.


Who is this NOT for?
  • Designers, Architects, or Contractors who need to adhere to current time and budget constraints even if the concepts have not been reality-tested.

Two Approaches: Two Sets Of Expectations with Pros and Cons...


Traditional Approach: 

  • Designer completes construction documentation and Contractor uses that to request bids from fabricators, like SF Metalworks. 

  • PRO: Time spent before requesting bids can be kept shorter.

  • CON: This can lead to the designer’s original intent getting ignored (due to limitations) or reveal problems for the project regarding expectations set with a client—such as complexity/budget for a piece that looks good on paper, but hasn’t been reality tested.

Design Assist Approach: 

  • Designer and/or Contractor coordinates with SF Metalworks in the early stages of the design process. The concept is upgraded as it meets the constraints and opportunities of reality and experience. Upon completion of the Design Assist phase, SF Metalworks can provide a bid for the Fabrication work (or alternate bids can be solicited by the Contractor).

  • PRO: What is approved on paper is what can and will be created in reality. More clear timelines and budgets can be formed and client expectations can be set with more confidence.

  • CON: Requirements of a design assist phase could require time and money that was not allocated for such work.

Being brought on early in the design process allows SF Metalworks to make the kinds of suggestions that benefit us and our Clients. Here’s a deeper dive into the advantages:

  • Reduced Timeline: A shared understanding of the project’s scope and goals results in fewer RFI’s, and therefore fewer delays. Additionally, collaboration allows potential timeline optimization. For example, we might be able to suggest a more expedient process for a given component if necessary.

  • Value Engineering: SF Metalworks can offer years of collective metal fabrication experience in order to suggest more cost-efficient ways to proceed with a design.

  • Collaboration & Learning: As a member of the project team, we can coordinate directly as required, reducing the inefficiencies found in the ‘email forwarding game.’ For example, working with a Designer to find alternatives, or working with a Structural Engineer to facilitate engineering review and approval. Additionally, collaboration allows the project team to learn from each other’s experience.

  • Digital Fabrication: Conventional metal fabrication tends to be based on the use of standard materials and ‘old school’ processes like saw cutting. Digital fabrication offers the potential to embed more sophisticated features in parts and assemblies. For example… Self-fixturing: Pre-cut fastener holes or slots and tabs can be placed in parts to reduce assembly time and increase assembly precision. (or) Mass Customization: If, for example, a part is being laser cut rather than sheared, it is relatively trivial to add additional features like decorative perforations.

  • Pre-Fabrication: Fabricating or installing on site is generally more time consuming, expensive, and difficult than shop fabrication, particularly if inclement weather is a risk.  SF Metalworks can offer suggestions for pre-fabricated solutions and/or ways to minimize site work.


Let's Talk!

To inquire about a Design Assist with SF Metalworks, request a Custom Metalwork Quote and mention “Design Assist” in your project description.

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