How steel stair drawings can improve production accuracy for manufacturing

Steel stairs are the basic component of any industrial, commercial and residential facility, installed for easy access across floors. With properly installed balustrades on stairs, they offer safety and support to the users. And for this very reason, they need precision manufacturing and strict regulatory compliance.

However, fabricating stairs with standards established by government bodies, building codes, and the metal fabrication industry is no simple job. Fabricators need to get all stakeholders on the same page before shop floor operations begin to save reworks, waste and delays.

Detailed shop drawings for steel stairs ensure seamless communication across stakeholders from design through production and enhance decision-making. Steel stair drawings developed in CAD platforms have a high level of detailing and abide by codes and drawing standards. Thus, they present the right information about materials, production and installation processes to all stakeholders through a single file.

Difficulties faced by steel stair manufacturers

Multiple choices for designs
Steel stairs come in different styles and combinations of materials. By combining steel with glass and wood, the stairs become aesthetical. Also, stairs are designed in various shapes like spiral staircases, curved staircases, etc. and hence you have multiple design options to choose from.

Assembly of several steel elements
Steel staircases have several structural members like pipe rails, headers, risers, treads, stringers, dog legs, pans, beams and more made of sheet metal. Each of these has its own dimension and geometry, and they need to be welded or need holes and slots for fastening other elements. This high level of detailing needs expertise in CAD drawings.

Stringent standards
Regulating authorities have established global standards such as ANSI, ASIC, IBC, ASTM, ADA and many more. These standards ensure that every staircase designed or fabricated meets safety guidelines, ergonomics, strength and other properties for smooth functions. Steel fabricators have to abide by every rule and guideline for fabricating steel stairs applicable to different regions.

In addition to these challenges, there are also other fabrication process challenges during cutting, forming, welding, surface treatment, assembly and finishes or painting before dispatch. Overcoming them needs detailed communication of design intent from the shop floor done effectively by steel stair drawings.

How steel stair drawings improve production accuracy for manufacturing

Parametric CAD tools like AutoCAD, Inventor and SolidWorks allow manufacturers to detail 3D designs of steel stairs with ease. CAD platforms have specialized sheet metal drafting tools to create detailed drawings for shop fabrication, assembly and site installation. Let’s look at the major benefits to steel fabricators and manufacturers:

Captures accurate bespoke design intent to speed up design development time

CAD modelers or detailers develop a 3D model of staircase for approval once the construction stakeholders share the following details:

  • Height/flight requirements
  • Supporting beam sizes and positions
  • Number of treads and risers
  • Stringer size and types like channel or tube
  • Nosing points
  • Connection details and materials to be used

The models created from these details essentially cover all aspects of the stairs and related building elements. Thus, a detailed 3D CAD model will enable every stakeholder to virtually walk around the structure to check sections and connections.

For example, a step made with riser and treads has different patterns of perforation and strips to prevent slip and skid. Steel rail might have different piping of circular or oval shapes. Stakeholders can analyze all these possibilities and make informed decisions.

As a result, potential problem areas be eliminated and models get updated with the right size, shape and connections. Comprehensive 3D models incorporate all DFM and DFMA considerations allowing safe, easy and accelerated manufacturing of steel stairs. The drawings derived from them reduce design development time from days to hours and help the manufacturer shorten the time to market.

Get detailed manufacturing drawings

Complete 3D model of steel stair incorporates all element level part details and information regarding their material shape, dimensions, joints and connections. The design can directly create 2D drawings for shop manufacturing from this. As a result, these drawings are accurate and comprehensive.

Through notes and annotations, detailed drawing provides information on the cutting the raw material using various machines. It includes machine information, parameter settings, tooling and fixtures for component development.

Enables seamless execution on the shop floor

Detailed drawings for metal include NC and DXF files and these are particularly helpful in steel stair fabrication. As stated before, since stairs have different elements that need holes, slots, reliefs, perforation patterns and bend,. They drive efficiencies by imparting dimensional accuracy.

On the other hand, DXF files empower manufacturers to assign the right set of machine tools for different metal for process efficiencies. DXF files also have nesting reports to reduce material scrap and feed the drawings directly to CNC machines to reduce cutting time.

Another important manufacturing operation that the steel stairs need during fabrication is weldments. Steel stair drawings have efficient planning and provisions for weld rods, lengths, dimensions etc. mentioned within. A complete assembly drawing shows a sequence of operations on detailed drawings via explode view and BOMs with details of subassemblies.

First-time right field installations

One of the biggest pain points for onsite installation is having missing information in drawings which delays installation. Detailed drawings ensure that the foremen have all precise dimensional details for all elements, connectors, hardwares, and their locations in 3D space. It eliminates the errands between the field and designer for getting clarification. Further, it also accompanies BOMs and sequential animated videos at times for assembly and installation. Thus, they act as a single source of truth for all stakeholders on the site – fabricator, contractor and engineer.


To meet the stringent requirements of steel stairs, manufacturers need a single set of documents that addresses all concerns from concept to installation. Conventional ways of working invite several iterations, increased material scrap, and delay projects to increase the overall cost.

Through detailed 3D model and 2D drawings and adopting new-age CAD platform, the manufacturer can seamlessly meet multiple requirements. Secondly, as the manufacturing industry adopts automation at various stages, design automation becomes prominent in steel stair manufacturing as well. To make the most of design automation platforms, 3D CAD models and derived manufacturing drawings will be the stepping stones.

About Author:

Usha B. Trivedi is a mechanical design engineer at TrueCADD – a company invested in industrial CAD drafting, modeling, and design automation. Ms. Trivedi writes about solution finding approach in CAD and design automation challenges backed by her years of exploration in industrial designing in furniture, millwork, and metal fabrication designs.