Finishing Options for Sheet Metal Fabrication

Enhance your sheet metal parts with a variety of finishing options

Need Standard or Cosmetic Parts?

Whether you find yourself developing a prototype for checking form, fit, function or need quick-turn cosmetic parts for your next trade show, we have you covered. Use the guide to choose the best option for you project.

   Standard Cosmetic 
 Description  When lower cost is a greater priority than appearance Functionally cosmetic parts that make you, and your parts, look good to stakeholders
 Use Cases Form, fit, function prototyping; internal componentry Testing or demonstration units, trade show parts, external componentry
 Part Applications Internal brackets and mounts, heat shields, support structures, washers, spacers, electrical components Housings, covers, face plates, external brackets and mounts
 Surface Finish Protolabs' discretion Customer specified
(grain direction, orbital sanded)
 Safe Handling  Yes Yes
 Cost  $ $$
 Quantities 1-100 + parts Best for 1-25 parts



Sheet Metal Surface Finish Guide

Check out our sheet metal guide for a quick snapshot of our Standard and Cosmetic finishing options available for various sheet metal materials.

Download Guide
sheet metal hardware
We provide hundreds of hardware products—from screws to fasteners—specifically designed for sheet metal fabrication.

Gas metal arc welding (MIG) and gas tungsten arc welding (TIG) are possible on sheet metal parts at Protolabs. When designing a part requiring welding, it is best to not specify the exact method or type of welding unless required for function. This provides us increased flexibility when fabricating the sheet metal part, which often results in the most economical and fastest lead-time choice for the customer.

PEM hardware insertion and riveting is an available secondary sheet metal process. It's important to make sure the hardware is not too close to a bend, edge, or other fastener. When designing near a bend or edge, use the centerline-to-edge (C/L-to-Edge) value to find the minimum distance to the outside edge. When calculating the spacing between multiple pieces of hardware, use the C/L-to-Edge formula plus ½ the diameter of the second mounting hole.

white sheet metal computer chassis
Stocked powder coating colors include white, black, safety orange, and safety yellow.

Powder coating is used to improve overall cosmetic appearance of parts and silk screening to apply design elements like company logos, safety warnings, and other graphics. We offer in-house powder coating and silk screening streamline production, and we powder coat or silk screen your parts in compliance with government regulations. In addition, we can order any other powder you need but it lead times will be impacted. Silk screen colors can be mixed to closely match most Pantone numbers and all inks are in stock. Click here to view our color options for sheet metal.

Plating improves strength, durability, and cosmetic appearance on parts. Anodize, chromate, zinc, and passivate plating options are available for sheet metal parts.