To catch with rapidly upgrading commercial products worldwide, product developers are struggling with the processing speed from design to product. Gradually it will be found that as new products come up from one after one, product lifespans are getting shorter to be replaced by its latest competitive versions. To fight with the timing, product developers not only need rapid prototypes to verify and realize their designs, but also fast production to delivery products to markets. As a result, compared with traditional mass production, low volume production is getting more and more focus in the industries. This article is from Wayken, an ISO prototype company is especially offering rapid prototyping services in China.
7 Things to Consider the Production Way to Go
Low-volume production can either act as a bridge between one-off prototyping and mass volume production or play the role of mass volume production directly, involving the production of 50 to 100,000 parts. There are kinds of manufacturing technologies for low volume production, including 3D printing, CNC prototype machining, vacuum casting, types of rapid tooling, etc. So where the wanted low volume production should go? There are 7 things to consider for your reference.
1.Quantity of Volume
Generally speaking, low volume production is divided into 3 levels to suit the most cost-effective manufacturing technologies:
- 50-100/200parts by 3D printing, CNC machining or Vacuum casting;
- 200-5000parts by rapid aluminum tooling;
- 5000-100,000 parts by rapid steel tooling.
Different technology has limitations on certain geometry features of the design. For example, for parts like bent pipes, both CNC machining and rapid tooling are unable to manufacture deep undercuts, and then the only way for low volume production is Vacuum casting using soft silicone tooling.
Some technologies belong to addictive manufacturing, like 3D printing, vacuum casting, and rapid injection molding, while some belong to subtractive manufacturing, like CNC machining. 3D printing and vacuum casting only allow using certain materials, resin, and polyurethane; CNC machining has options of material types but different from production level; rapid tooling has lots of material options, closest to mass production.
4.Tolerance Control Level
When it comes to tight tolerance for machining parts, CNC machining will be the first option usually. However, as its cost is higher than other technologies for low volume production, rapid tooling combined with CNC machining will be suggested. For example, when you want a volume in 200 metal parts while asking for +/-0.02mm tolerance for certain features, you can do rapid tooling like extruding or die-casting to produce a rough structure and then do CNC machining do final accuracy finish.
5.Revisions or Modification
It possibly happens that revisions or modification is required during production, especially for some cases that you don’t have good prototyping round to validate the design. The revisions or modifications may cause additional costs to different degrees. CNC machining and 3D printing are working through computer programming, much easier by reorganizing the machining pattern, while silicone tooling doesn’t allow any changes, and rapid metal tooling allows very little changes, which might occur largely loses. Anyway, the safest way is to confirm all perfect before production.
6. Surface Finishes
Both CNC machined and 3D printed parts can only rely on post-finishes, like polishing, painting, sandblasting, to mimic the ideal one; vacuum casting can rely on finishes on the original master pattern, material pigments, or post finishes; rapid tooling relies on the finishes on the cavities surface, as well as post finishes. By the way, for rapid tooling, there is a note: for part requiring roughness in SPI-A1, a soft metal tool like aluminum is hardly withstood high polish will suggest using harder metal instead.
7. On-demand Production
One necessary question from manufacturers when you ask for a quote for rapid volume production is that “what’s your production plan for this product? How long it will serve? How many it needs each batch? ” The reason this information relates their evaluation on offer suitable tooling solution for you. One silicone tool can only produce 15pcs around and lifespan is about 3 months; rapid aluminum tooling has 1000-5000shots; rapid steel tooling has larger… Before choosing a suitable solution, you have to let manufacturers know your plan at first.
After getting through the above 7 things, you could have a general idea to understand different optional ways. Please kindly note all 7 things should be put in one basket to consider so that you could get an optimal solution by brainstorm. When you make all these clear, you could make a quick and right decision to push the low volume production to go ahead! To shorten the time, to win first place in the market, low volume production can help you! If you want to know more about it, please feel free to contact us through [email protected]