3 CAD Detailing Mistakes to Avoid When Fabricating Guardrail and Handrail

3 CAD Detailing Mistakes to Avoid When Fabricating Guardrail and Handrail

Detailing mistakes can make or break deals. Avoid these 3 common 3D CAD detailing mistakes when fabricating guardrails and handrails and say no to delays.

The fabrication of guardrails and handrails often requires bending, cutting, and assembling small sub-assemblies with existing standard parts. CAD facilitates these steps with ease. CNC technology with CAD sends and receives data from industrial machinery.

Especially in handrails and guardrails, as they form a part of bigger building structures, quality of detailing is a critical factor. Even minor drawings and detailing mistakes can lead to delays and eventually a loss of revenue. It calls for a close coordination between designers and metal fabricators.

Industry view of metal fabrication for guardrail and handrail

The sluggish growth of the global sheet metal fabrication market is expected to impact guardrail and handrail fabrication as well. The USA is the leading market for these products with bespoke design needs. And expanding market means adapting to customer needs as well as shop floor requirements to stay profitable. Let us look at some challenges encountered in handrail and guardrail fabrication.

Design Challenges between Designers and Manufacturers for Handrail and Guardrail

It is a daunting task to design, specify and fabricate handrails and guardrails that go well with the existing staircase. As no two stairs are built the same, a lot of effort goes into design, safety, and aesthetics. This poses some common design problems between designers and manufacturers.

Design Development Challenges

The first step in fabricating guardrails is to consider the fitting and aesthetics. Staircases vary with the type of property, open space, and building usage needing accuracy. And each will have varying fabrication methods.

Design Communication between Design Engineers and Fabricators

For instance, during design stage, initial drawings and models undergo iteration to accommodate customizations. Prior to fabrication, this may include changes to the basic canopy frame, design concepts, appearance, and feel, etc.

Gathering Customer Needs for Customization

Metal fabrication of bespoke products requires great coordination between sales and manufacturing teams, who must receive exact customer specifications. If not done properly, it leads to longer lead times.

How 3D CAD Modeling Helps

Coordination with teams using comprehensive 3D modeling

3D CAD improves communication among stakeholders. Online CAD solutions allow designers and other stakeholders to share design documents for quick access, much like using online drives. As soon as you share a design, it becomes available for anyone with access to the file as you work on it.

A single 3D CAD model is available for simultaneous editing. This makes it possible for all stakeholders to visualize the project clearly and share their feedback and changes in real-time.

Finally, when you have an approved design, send the design to your manufacturers.

CAD opens the gateway to design automation

CAD designs automation speeds up and makes the design cycle by eliminating repetitive tasks. With features such as reusing design data, writing macros, and reducing modeling time, design automation offers a multitude of benefits. Automating design minimizes errors and costs resulting from human error.

All information at one place

With 3D CAD software, you get to document all information and store it on a shared platform for all stakeholders to see. You can embed the product manufacturing information (PMI) for handrail and guardrail for digital inspection, in your CAD files. You can easily capture the dimensions, of railings, baluster, nosing etc. for subsequent uses.

CAD tools stores the elements, models, and assemblies for future designs. 3D CAD models in libraries can be reengineered, or used to create BOMs for manufacturer to stay in sync. Sometimes, as per the intended use, these models and be converted to lightweight 3D models only to share specific information to relevant stakeholder.

3D design is easy to comprehend

3D models make any drawing easily understandable. Designers use 3D CAD models to present their products to designers, as well as laypersons without an engineering background. As the 3D CAD design is available with the entire team at the same time, the engineering, product development, and manufacturing units are fully aware of the proceedings. The manufacturing, marketing, sales teams and customers can use these models, a virtual prototype of guardrail and handrail for seamless communication.


Designing custom handrail could be a daunting task. But 3D CAD enables easy modeling, design comprehension and automation to keep every stakeholder on the same page. It gives the flexibility to make changes in design with minimal waste of resources. Engineers put less effort into designing digital drawings in comparison to traditional processes.

Metal fabricators are using 3D design for enhanced productivity of teams and garner better results. A designer’s creativity can do great things as they render their drawings in 3D and help fabricators stay profitable.

About Author:

Usha B. Trivedi is an engineer and she contributes in-depth articles for mechanical and industrial equipment designs, furniture designs, and the fabrication sector. Her contributions are primarily focused on enabling engineering professionals, furniture manufacturers, and fabricators to optimize design outcomes through CAD and CAE tools.