Engineering Prototypes, Precision Machining and Fabrication
Formed parts, precision-machined parts, preproduction runs, engineering prototypes and fabricated assemblies comprise the services of a single source supplier. These services must be supported by skilled modelmakers and machinists who operate in concert with a rigid inspection program.
Prototypes can be made from steel, stainless steel, other ferrous alloys, aluminum and machinable plastics. The jobs as well as the specifications come from machinery, printing, aerospace, medical, automotive and university sources.
Preproduction and low-volume runs can cover from 1 to 500 pieces in precision machining and up to 4,000 in a fabrication application. The fabrication of assemblies can involve as many as eight components to generate one finished part.
Some of the advantages of the engineering prototype shop are that it can serve as a test lab for a client or can provide 1 to 10 parts for the customer to show OEM prospects. Another advantage of this approach is that one is not married to expensive tooling, thus, product flexibility with economy. Note that up to 50% of prototypes are modified after their first showing.
A major disadvantage of prototype and short-run is that the price per part is high. The array of tools to support short-run, precision machining and prototype manufacturing include manual and CNC milling machines, press brakes, punches, drills, grinders, shears, welders and sand blasting and painting facilities. Sophisticated measuring equipment and other inspection instruments are also required in these operations. Suppliers must be able to work with client sketches and downloaded disks.
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