Primary Metals Used in the Custom Steel Fabrication of Bulk Storage Bins, Silos, and Tanks

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For industrial companies that require a customized metal storage bin, silo, or tank to suit their specific needs, buying a prefabricated unit is not an option. What you need is custom metal fabrication from a company with experience in producing a variety of bulk storage solutions for industrial applications.

To produce your desired storage solution, the fabricator needs to know the proper materials to use based on a variety of factors, ranging from the materials you intend to store and budgetary concerns to industrial access equipment you’ll need to ensure employee safety and meet necessary regulations.

To better understand the factors that will help determine which material we recommend, here is a breakdown of the three primary types of metals used in custom metal fabrication: Aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel.


Aluminum is lightweight yet strong and is the perfect metal for bulk storage bins, silos, and tanks that are intended to store liquids and plastic pellets. Aluminum is also valuable in providing an insulating outer shell for carbon-steel tanks, silos, and bins.

Part of what makes aluminum attractive is that it has a high strength to weight ratio and is affordable, but it’s also important to note that in certain applications, aluminum bins, silos, and tanks may need to be externally treated to prevent wear and tear from the elements.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is used for custom steel fabrication projects intended to store a variety of materials, including:

  • Grain
  • Aggregates
  • Liquids
  • Oxide

Depending on what material is being stored, carbon steel tanks can be lined with various types of epoxy, polyurethane or rubber to help prevent corrosion and leakage. Lined tanks can greatly extend the lifespan of a storage tank.

Metal grades are also a factor in both carbon and stainless steel, though in the case of carbon steel it is most common to see a low-carbon (a.k.a. “mild”) steel used because of its malleability and relatively low cost.

Stainless Steel

Bins, silos, and tanks constructed using stainless steel provide effective storage space for caustic and liquid materials including:

  • Liquid acid
  • Fertilizer
  • Bulk oil
  • Water

Because it is considered a sterile storage solution, stainless steel is frequently used in fabricating storage tanks that will be used in the agricultural and beverage industries for storing large quantities of food products. Food-grade products are often stored in higher grade stainless where the duration of storage or environmental concerns are a factor.

Helping You Choose The Right Metal for Your Application

To help us choose the best fit material for your project and ensure we deliver the highest quality product to your precise specifications, Southern Metal Fabricators uses a straightforward, six-step custom metal fabrication process, starting with dividing your project into one of five classifications:

  • ASME Sec. IX
  • Atmospheric
  • Certified
  • Code
  • Non-Code

After classification of your storage solution and choosing the appropriate metal for construction, your project will proceed with the following:

  • Design: Drawings are processed through our engineering department and presented to you for approval.
  • Production Scheduling: Once you approves the plans, we set up a production schedule to best suit your needs. This will provide both parties a target completion date for the project.
  • Production Proceeds: At this point, your storage solution is ready for production. Depending on the project, production may include plate-forming, fit-up, and weld-out. Whatever steps are necessary to build out your project are completed in the production process.
  • Finishing: Once the project is finished, our in-house quality control inspectors will ensure your silo, bin, or tank meets specifications and compliance with the required regulations.
  • Shipping: Once you or a third party inspector approves the project, it is prepared to be shipped for final installation. For projects located in the Southeast, we will be happy to discuss our field installation options.

You can discover more about how we’ve approached the custom fabrication of bulk storage bins, silos, and tanks for a variety of industries and applications on our website.

If you’re ready to discuss your bulk storage solutions project, give us a chance to say, “Yes, we can do that!” by contacting us today.