Everyone wants their products are manufactured as fast as possible. Speeding up manufacturing can shorter the lead time so the new products can be launched to the market quicker than competitors. This offers commercial advantages and increases profits.
When outsourcing rapid prototyping manufacturers, the speed of manufacturing may be out of control. But this is not true. Designers and developers play an important role in speeding up manufacturing as the manufacturers themselves. Today, we will talk about how to get your products made as fast as possible, from choosing the suitable manufacturing process to developing an efficient communication with manufacturers.
Choose a suitable and fast manufacturing process
The greatest manufacturer is the world cannot change the fact that some manufacturing processes are quicker than others.
Actually, you don’t always have freedom to choose manufacturing processes. If a part needs to be cast or forged, for example, you cannot 3D print it. It could change the function and capability of the part.
It is important to make a decision which manufacturing process is suitable for your projects. With rapid prototyping, there is a great flexibility. More prototypes doesn’t have strict requirement on mechanisms and materials. So, you can give priority to speed to speed than other factors.
CNC machining is a quick manufacturing process, especially for low volume production and prototypes creations. CNC machining does not need tooling. And multiple setups can be reduced by the modern 5-axis machines.
But for large volume production, CNC machining is less efficient. Creating more parts by CNC machining does not reduce the time per part. Producing complex parts by CNC machining will take more than simple parts.
Injection molding involves two step manufacturing processes. Injection molding need metal tooling. Injection molding is a slow process for low-volume production and producing prototypes. Creating injection mold is a slow process, injection shots of plastic is quick. Each plastic part can be produced fast when the tooling is completed. So, injection molding is a very fast manufacturing process for mass production.
Sheet metal fabrication
When a part is made by sheet metal fabrication, you will rarely have to make decision between sheet metal and alternative. There are a wide range of manufacturing processes related to sheet metal fabrication. Sheet metal fabrication requires a range of machinery which includes brakes, shearing machines and more, they can make rapid prototyping and low volume production slower than all in one process such as CNC machining.
3D printing is a fast manufacturing process to make prototypes and low volume production which with quantity around less than 10 parts.
3D printing is fast as the setup time is short. The actual manufacturing time does not appear fast. Different from CNC machining and other subtractive, 3D printer can create complex parts at the same rate as simple parts.
Design the parts for fast manufacturing
Speed of manufacturing does not just depend on the manufacturers. Designers also pay a key role in affecting the speed of producing a part. Using DFM will result in better parts and quicker production form manufacturing partner. Looking at how to make a parts and how to design the parts to be suitable for production method is important, no matter is CNC machining, injection molding or others. Every manufacturing process has it criteria for products design.
Making life simple for the manufacturer
When you have done the design for the parts and pick up a suitable manufacturing and material, it is time to take next step to shorten the manufacturing time. The next step is to make life as simple as possible for manufacturers.
Before manufacturing, double check the design for errors and ambiguities. If you design is easy, simple and machine-friendly, it is also necessary to present them in a good way to explain your ideas to the machinist and engineers.
Preparing a technical drawing helps to eliminate mistakes. A technical drawing includes details such as tolerances, surface finishing, annotations and other requirements which will not show on the CAD file. Technical drawing can be the supplemented by notes to manufacturer that the parts and requirement can be explained in a natural language. In this way, you don’t need to keep discussing and explaining the projects with manufacturers.
Explaining your need to manufacturers will make it easy when you work with the same engineer again. Instead of working with a new manufacturer very time, building a long-term relationship is better as there will be rarer miscommunications and the production will get faster and faster.