By Embryo

What is a Kiosk?

As kiosk manufacturers ourselves, Salamander Fabrications is here to give expert insight into the increasingly common question: what is a kiosk?

A kiosk is a metal standalone structure, usually seen in public spaces like shopping districts or the entrance to attractions. The purpose of a kiosk is to provide goods or services to a customer. Sometimes they operate by using automation, like in the case of self-serve kiosks, and sometimes are manned by staff. 

In this guide, we’ll take you through all you need to know about what kiosks are, how they operate and how they are made.

At Salamander Fabrications we create kiosks, vending machines and enclosures from scratch for clients. Get in touch to find out more about kiosk manufacture. 

Manned Kiosks vs. Self-Service Kiosks

The first thing to know about kiosks is that there are two key types you will encounter: manned and self-service kiosks. Let’s explain exactly what each of these kiosk types entails.

Manned Kiosks

These are kiosks operated by a person or persons. This is most commonly the case for catering kiosks, where food is served to customers and sometimes also prepared within the confines of the kiosk, by a member of staff. 

Burger vans, street food kiosks and coffee carts are all examples of manned kiosks. You might also find them in other scenarios where human interaction with customers has been selected over automation, for example, in ticketing booths.

Self-Service Kiosks

What is a self-service kiosk? A self-service kiosk, as you can surmise from the name, allows a user to serve themselves. This is usually achieved through an interface such as a display screen and a way for the customer to communicate their choices like a touch screen or pin pad. 

Consequently, it will also generally have an integrated payment feature that allows for card or cash payment to be made by the customer at the time of purchase

Self-service kiosks are on the rise globally, in part due to how they can help reduce staffing costs for businesses. Datos Insights reports that from the two years up to 2023 self-service kiosks in the restaurant industry rose by 43%, a clear indication of how the world is embracing self-service kiosks.

What Are the Most Common Categories of Kiosks?

Kiosks provide a wide range of services in our daily lives. We can categorise these into several broad types of kiosks below.

Food Kiosks – As you can imagine, food kiosks allow vendors to sell a variety of foods to customers. This can range from hot beverages to street food. 

Catering Kiosks – As with food kiosks, catering kiosks are designed for serving food to customers. The key difference is that catering kiosks are equipped for food preparation within the kiosk itself, whereas some food kiosks simply serve pre-prepared food.

Service Kiosks – This kind of kiosk gives the user a specific service or piece of information. Often this means completing a task – like retrieving tickets or checking into a venue – without the need for human assistance.

Vending Machines – You might not immediately have thought of vending machines as a form of kiosk, but they are. They are typically positioned in public places where people might need what they serve automatically.

Other Enclosures – This category of kiosk includes miscellaneous kinds of enclosures that are defined as kiosks. One example would be digital advertising displays which are thought by some to be a kiosk in that they are standalone structures which exist in public spaces, and provide a visual service to users despite not requiring interaction.

10 Different Examples of Kiosks

Until you start to think about kiosks, you don’t necessarily realise how many you see and interact with in public spaces on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones, as well as some extremely new developments. 

1. Wayfinding Kiosks 

These problem-solving kiosks are usually dotted around large venues, often shopping centres, to assist people by providing directions. Using a touchscreen, users can enter their desired endpoint and receive specific map instructions on the screen.

2. Streetfood Kiosks 

From pop-up food trucks at festivals to burger vans outside football stadiums, catering kiosks are a key kiosk type. Streetfood kiosks offer the ability to prepare and sell food from inside the kiosk. Most often they are easily transportable so that they can be taken to events to trade.

3. Vending Machines

Vending machines are a popular form of self-serve kiosk. They offer franchise opportunities and can make a great investment when placed strategically. The owner will have the responsibility of stocking them and will need to apply for relevant permits in order to install and run one in the public domain. 

4. Temperature Kiosks

This form of kiosk is a new development in the world of kiosks since the Covid-19 pandemic. These stands are often found in airports and offices and allow users to have their temperature scanned to check that they aren’t ill before entering a densely populated space. 

5. Coffee Carts 

Coffee carts are usually movable catering kiosks that serve hot beverages like tea and coffee. They are often portable in order to be placed in popular areas by the vendors. They are a highly common form of kiosk. 

6. ATMs

Did you know that ATMs are a common form of kiosk? They require extremely robust casing and tight conformity to the provider’s design and branding. Take a look at the ATM project we completed for Travelex cash machines.

7. Ticketing Kiosks

While ticketing enclosures are occasionally manned, generally they tend to be self-service kiosks. These kiosks allow users to redeem or purchase tickets, often also printing and dispensing the tickets as well. 

8. Mobile Device Charging Kiosks

These kiosks are another modern development in the world of kiosks. They allow users to charge their phones for a fee and are usually found in places like airports or train stations for convenience. 

9. Photo Printing Kiosks

Photo printing kiosks are a good example of where a kiosk has replaced the need for a business’s staffing costs. Customers can interact with the touchscreen to select their photos and print them on the spot.

10. Package Collection Lockers

This is an increasingly prevalent example of a completely self-service form of kiosk. Customers pick up packages contained within a metal locker in a public location by entering a release code on the touchscreen pad. This unlocks the locker.

What Is A Kiosk Made From?

Kiosks by their nature serve the public wherever they are needed, so it’s normal for them to be positioned outside in all weathers. This is why kiosks need to be robust. Their manufacture requires skilful design and strong materials. Most often metal is chosen as the material for the outer enclosure of a kiosk.

The Make-Up of a Kiosk

Depending on their function, different types of kiosks will have a variety of designs and features. However, the core makeup of any kiosk can be broadly categorised into the following components. 


The whole kiosk will be encased in a robust enclosure, usually made from sheet metal. 

Control PC

The control PC is the ‘brain’ of the kiosk managing and controlling its functions. It is the CPU which runs the software for the kiosk and connects to and processes the input from any hardware, such as pin pads.


In most cases, self-service kiosks will have a screen. Where the kiosk sells goods or services the choices will generally be displayed in the form of a user flow menu.


Peripherals include hardware integrations like pin pads, plastic and metal housing and branding etc.

Thermal Printer

Where receipts are given by the kiosk, a thermal printer will be housed inside the enclosure.

How Is a Kiosk Manufactured?

The requirements for how each kiosk is made will differ depending on the complexity of the design. The standard outline is as follows:

Design phase: At Salamander, we are skilled at taking pre-existing designs that conform to strict brand guidelines and creating them to tight tolerances. However, we can also help you with CAD and CAM design services for kiosks. 

Sheet metal fabrication: The metal used in the project will require sheet metal fabrication and then manipulation to create the correct components, using laser cutting and sheet metal bending.

Electromagnetic assembly: Electrical parts are typically put into place within the house of the machine using electromagnetic assembly. This allows us to complete the project with every element where it needs to be.

Make Salamander Fabrication Your Kiosk Manufacturer 

As experts in sheet metal fabrication, we’re well-equipped to produce kiosks from scratch to excellent commercial standards. We’ve produced large quantities of kiosks and are trusted kiosk manufacturers for large brands across the UK.

If you’re interested in learning about how Salamander can help you produce kiosks quickly and accurately, get in touch with the team today or call us at 01484 843599.

FAQs About Kiosks

Now that we have comprehensively answered the question ‘What is a kiosk?’, here are some extra answers to questions that commonly crop up around the topic.

What does a kiosk mean?

Kiosk is an umbrella term used to describe enclosures which provide goods, services or information to customers. Often they include an interface for ordering and payment, like a touch screen or pin pad in self-service kiosks. The term used to refer to an outdoor pavilion however the meaning has adapted with modern times.

Why are kiosks increasingly popular?

Kiosks allow owners to service customers in a relatively low-cost way. After initial outlay on the kiosk fabrication, they require relatively little input to get started compared to a bricks-and-mortar establishment. For instance, a self-service kiosk will require no staffing costs.

How much does a kiosk cost?

Factors that will influence the cost of a kiosk include the thickness and grade of the materials used to produce it as well as the complexity of the electrical components integrated in the machinery. Every project comes with different requirements, however, we are always happy to get the full details and then provide a clear, no-obligation quote. 

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