Which Process To Choose for Production?

Which process to choose? Experts from Xmake suggest that customers should consider the following 3 aspects: volume, must-have features, cost consideration.

Production Volume

Yes, volume is the first thing to think about. Which process to choose is heavily related to the volume to be produced unless cost is not in the first priority.

If only a few parts are needed,molding, auto lathing and other methods that need heavy first-time investment are not in our choices.

If a few hundred parts are needed, most molding and auto lathing normally are not best choices, neither is 3d printing. CNC and rapid molding are better options.

If a few thousand parts are needed,CNC and molding have to be carefully weighted for their cost and result, for sheets metal, choices between CNC punching and punching mold also need to be weighted for the costs and results.

If a few tens of thousand are needed,CNC are used only if tight tolerances or high-grade finishing are absolutely required. Molding or auto-lathing is normally more cost effective. For simple shape parts profile milling & lathing are also in the range of consideration.

Must-have Features

Very often, there are features required “no matter how much it cost”. For example, to avoid the friction between a shaft and a bearing, a tolerance of 0.015mm is required for the shaft. Or, gears at high rpm often requires hardened teeth surface. Those requirements would rule out a lot process. A shaft with harden surface need a grinding process, rule out the process of only CNC without grinding. A plastic part with tolerance of 0.02mm is obviously not make-able by 3D printing and very hard to be done by injection molding. Must-have features sometimes out-weight the importance of production volume, literately it is must to have features.

Cost consideration

After considering must-have features and production volume, whatever processes left is then weighted for their cost. Some other elements need to be considered here too, like how much chances the part design would be changed later on. Obviously, a CNC process would be easier to arrange than a molding process when part design is changed. Quality consistency is another important element, in generally molding process has better quality consistency than CNC or profile milling & lathing.

If you still don’t know what’s the best process for your parts/product, please feel free to contact us!