Different processes for manufacturing parts are necessary to achieve different outcomes. The most important thing to consider is the type of production process that is required to achieve the desired results. In manufacturing, two different ends of the spectrum for component production are custom manufacturing and mass production.
Custom manufacturing occurs when raw materials are manufactured into end-use industrial components or consumer parts. While custom-machined parts may be produced in the hundreds via small production runs, mass-production quantities are usually much higher. This may seem like a clear-cut explanation of custom manufacturing and mass production, but depending on the product or component, production can involve a variety of complex steps.
Why does it matter?
With the rise of the current global supply chain crisis, many companies have begun exploring these options more in-depth. Additionally, many companies strategize whether they should buy or make certain products based on the cost-savings of each option. When a company needs to buy a product or component instead of making it in-house, the dilemma of custom manufacturing vs. mass production arises.
When it comes to custom-manufactured parts, there are various types of metal fabrication and production methods. The best method for your specific part depends on the industry it’s used for and the intended use of the component. There are advantages and disadvantages to both custom and mass-produced components. Below we will explore these processes further and explain how to determine which production style is right for your project.
The Basics Manufacturing Metal Parts
There are many different processes and capabilities available today to produce or fabricate metal parts. These include machining, welding, cutting, bending, punching, shearing, stamping, folding, casting, and this list goes on. Each of these processes requires different skills, accuracy, and precision. The method required to produce your part will help determine if custom or mass-production is best for your project.
At Caprice MachineWorks, we have 3 and 4-axis CNC milling centers, a tool room, and production-style CNC lathes, that offer a wide array of machining capabilities. If you would like to inquire about our specific metal manufacturing capabilities, contact us today!
When thousands or even millions of the same part are needed, companies use mass production to meet their needs. In this process, a production line is used, consisting of automated machines that can be programmed to produce the same part over and over. Most of these machines can run 24/7 with little or no human interaction. Increasingly, automation is becoming the very means of mass production. However, this process does leave room for error and quality issues can arise with little human interaction occurring. Meticulous inspection processes are required to ensure complete accuracy.
Pros of Mass Production
The obvious advantage of mass production is reduced costs. Since machines do most of the work to produce large quantities of parts, labor costs remain relatively low with this option. The manufacturing process is more efficient as machines are programmed and research-driven to produce a large number of identical parts. If an inventory or surplus of parts is required, mass production might be the ideal method as it can provide more parts than necessary with less effort.
Cons of Mass Production
Human interaction with the production line is limited, which can cause quality issues to arise. If there is an error with a machine on the production line, it can cause accuracy issues, possibly resulting in defective parts. With mass production, there is less oversight to catch a quality issue during the production process. Waste is another issue since minimum quantity requirements are so high.
Additionally, if a part needs to be redesigned or specifications need to be tweaked, it is much more costly to pull the parts off the production line to make changes. If you are in an industry where each part needs to be accurate and precise, like aerospace, health, or energy, for example, mass production might not be the best option for you.
Parts produced in lower volumes or untested parts that may require design changes are more suited for custom manufacturing. With custom manufacturing, there is more human interaction, which puts the accuracy and precision of the produced parts into the operator’s hands. This kind of production requires a high level of expertise, skill, and training to produce parts that are of high quality and precision.
Fun fact – At Caprice MachineWorks, we have some of the most skilled machinists, bringing you over 50+ years of combined experience in the custom manufacturing of metal and plastic parts.
Pros of Custom Manufacturing
Custom Manufacturing has lower minimum quantities, and in most cases, no minimum quantity at all. Though costs are a bit higher in low-volume production, it is much easier to make changes to low-volume parts during the production process.
Quality inspections are more thorough and frequent and involve more than just observing the appearance of parts for visible flaws. Adjustments can be made to account for quality issues that were not apparent until production began without as much difficulty as mass production.
Cons of Custom Manufacturing
Since custom manufacturing requires more human interaction and expertise, labor costs are higher than mass production. Less automation involves more chances for errors, but even small runs usually involve CNC machines and other machines that are programmed to create identical parts. High-quality machines paired with highly skilled machinists reduce the risk of errors occurring (and errors are still easier to catch and fix).
While mass production has some advantages, custom manufacturing is often the better route to go unless you need parts produced in mass quantities. Custom manufacturing provides durable parts with the flexibility to make changes or adjustments as needed. This eliminates material waste and allows you to obtain precision parts in the volume you need.
At Caprice MachineWorks, we have decades of experience in custom manufacturing and taking designs and concepts from the prototype stage to the production stage. Our experienced machinists can help with part design, optimization, and production. If you need a custom-manufactured part or have a concept/design you need to be brought to life, call us today to see how we can help!