Rapid Prototyping Design Requirements: Top Questions Answered

Example of rapid prototyping design in action

Entering the world of rapid prototyping often invokes more questions than it seems to answer. Aligning your product design process to the strengths of rapid prototyping design to get a better product to market faster does not necessarily mean that you must reinvent the wheel. By developing an understanding through the review of the most common questions asked of manufacturing consultants, you will be in a better position to leverage rapid prototyping for your project initiatives.

What Does the Term Rapid Prototyping Mean?

Rapid prototyping is a term that is used to describe a design process that is built with the goal of getting a product ready for manufacturing—fast. This involves more than just creating a prototype of a design to ensure that it is ready for the public; it is, in fact, a larger container for a variety of design tasks that ensure quality and consistency is maintained throughout the process. It is expected that by the end of the project you will have a prototype that can be used for testing or demonstration.

Typically, rapid prototypes are created using a process called additive manufacturing. This is a process in which a product is created, layer by layer, using the design specifications from a CAD design. CNC rapid prototyping can also be employed, which allows for a more realistic representation of the product, both in terms of overall functionality and the use of the actual materials to be used in the final product.

How Can My Design Project Benefit from Using Rapid Prototyping?

Example of rapid prototyping design in action

Using rapid prototyping in your projects will present you with a number of benefits, all of which stem from the proactive controls built into each task. It is these controls that make the speedy creation of high-quality products possible through the use of consistency in tasks, review points, and a deeper involvement of project teams, providing deeper levels of precision at all stages of the project. This high level of collaboration means that most defects are caught early, further saving time and cutting costs.

The early establishment of product design specifics, as well as the ability to make digital alterations quicker means that the first prototypes are more likely to be the only ones needed. Getting it right the first time further contributes to cost and time savings, and gives you a perfected model of your product that can be tested, or used as a presentation tool in front of customers or investors. Also, this adds another dimension to a patent application as well, improving its chances for approval.

Are There Specific Methods Used in Rapid Prototyping?

Although 3D-printing is commonly associated with the rapid prototyping design process, several strong choices are available:

  • 3D-Printing. This additive prototyping process relies on sending a design into a computer-connected printing device to build the product one layer at a time. Most easily meltable materials can be used in this process, including plastic, epoxy, and even wax.
  • CNC Machining. Like 3D-printing, CNC machining relies on sending computer-generated instructions into the tools building the prototype. The differences come in two parts. First, CNC machining can use the same materials as the final product, such as metals. Second, CNC machined prototypes can be almost as good as the products rolling off of the line.
  • Molding and Casting. This process can incorporate elements of the previous two processes. Molds and casts can be cut and shaped using CNC machining. Then, these casts and molds can have layers of melted materials to create a solid part. This process typically uses urethane or silicon-based materials.

Although other rapid prototyping methods, such as powder bed fusions, do exist, these are the most common examples of processes used to build rapid prototypes. Each of these methods come with their own set of pros and cons, as well as their own best-suited set of applications.

Where in Rapid Prototyping Does Prototype Fidelity Play a Role?

Determining the fidelity in your prototype simply means that you are choosing just how accurate your model is to the final product. For example, if you were building a solar-powered lawnmower engine, your best prototyping choice would be to use a CNC machined prototype. However, for that innovative twist on left-handed scissors, 3D-printing would be a perfect choice. The levels of fidelity available to a rapid prototype model are low, medium, and high.

Describing these is fairly intuitive, with low fidelity products being rough caricatures of the final product, and high fidelity prototypes being nearly identical to the final product. It is a common practice to choose a combination of these three to develop a prototype, as you may only need one portion of the product to be a high fidelity representation, with the rest of the product built using medium or low fidelity.

Do I Need a Consultant to Help With My Rapid Prototyping Design?

Designing a product, from the birth of the idea through the completion of testing, involves a number of key pillars within the rapid prototyping process. Starting off on the right foot is critical from the start, as is building a concise set of controls and knowing what digital fabrication tools or methods are needed to get your rapid prototyping strategy off the ground. When choosing the best rapid prototyping design strategy for your project, reaching out to an experienced manufacturing consultant will get you started on the right path.

Need more answers to your rapid prototyping design questions? The engineers and design consultants at Pacific Research Laboratories work with clients to develop a rapid prototyping strategy that fits your project perfectly. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

Why CNC for Rapid Prototyping Can Get Your Product To Market Faster

The importance of creating a viable prototype from a design schematic has been long established in manufacturing. However, options for prototyping remained largely limited until the explosion of viable 3D printing technology over the past decade. The increased use of 3D printing in manufacturing applications has led many to wonder why they should consider any other type of prototyping to demonstrate new product capabilities.

Although lacking the glamour of 3D-printing, CNC rapid prototyping is a quality, trusted option when a prototype must be created. And although 3D-printed prototypes do present design teams with a different array of benefits, there are many scenarios in which there is no substitution for quality, CNC-machined part. Not only can these be produced just as fast as 3D-printed parts, but CNC prototypes can have the same strength and quality as the anticipated full-production product.

What Is the CNC Machining Process?

CNC machining is a manufacturing process that creates parts by utilizing inputted computer parameters to control machining tools. The primary benefit of CNC machining is that materials that are harder to manipulate can be cut and crafted to create a product that falls easily within designed tolerances. This minimizes the reliance on quality control since once a CNC machine has its instructions and has been properly calibrated, it can accurately repeat the production process.

The process for CNC machining starts in the same way as other common types of prototyping, like 3D-printing. Building a product using 3D-CAD software and simulation tools is a must, requiring that the CAD-operator and the software being used are at the peak of their game. All steps must be aligned to best practice design fabrication processes and the specific instructions required by CNC machinery, such as drills or lathes.

But unlike 3D-printing, CNC machining is a subtractive process, which means that the required components are cut out of the required materials. At a glance, this may seem wasteful, but when a properly planned design is in place, the CNC operator can select a block of material that best fits the specifications in the design. The ability of a CNC machine to build components out of the same materials as your final product presents you with the capability to have a fully functional prototype.

How Do CNC Machining Strengths Align with Rapid Prototyping?

The strengths of CNC machining—high accuracy and speed, ideal material strengths, and computer-assisted controls—align with the rapid prototyping process on all levels. Like 3D-printing, CNC machining has a low-labor footprint and minimizes the effects of process variations as a result of its ability to take its guidance directly from the product’s design specifications. But the places where CNC machining stands out in rapid prototyping is something that a 3D-printing just cannot yet accomplish.

CNC machines produce prototypes at a much faster rate than other prototyping methods, often using the same materials as the final product. This allows for improved performance accuracy during testing and demonstrations, as well as the ability to utilize prototypes for post-sale support training or models for solving defects. These, and the ability to easily make size reductions in components, make CNC-built prototypes ideal candidates for generating rapid prototypes.

Although only indirectly related to rapid prototyping, the building of molds and casting models using CNC machining should be considered here as well. The ability to guide CNC machines using CAD-defined measurements to build strong and unchanging castings or molds gives CNC machining another notch in the prototyping win column. This allows material pours or base outlines for other prototyping methods to be quickly built with the same high level of accuracy as in the production of parts and components.

Where Do the Advantages of CNC Rapid Prototyping Stand Apart from the Others?

The criticisms of using CNC machining in rapid prototyping quickly fall off the tongue: it is more costly than 3D-printing and can contribute to the wasteful use of materials. Also, CNC machining cannot achieve the same highly complex internal geometric structures that additive prototyping methods can accomplish. But taking a step back to see that CNC machining is not used for prototypes in these categories and that most material scraps are recycled will make it easier for you to see the benefits.

The quality, consistency, and trueness of the final product are what make CNC machined prototypes stand out. Any prototype that needs to demonstrate a close or exact operational match to the final project is a perfect fit for CNC machining. A prototype that needs to be created quickly from a digital CAD drawing out of the same materials as will be used in its final product is a perfect fit for CNC machining.

Determining the best rapid prototyping solution for your project is a crucial step before moving to final production. Engaging a manufacturing consultant that specializes in getting manufacturing projects off the ground will allow you to see the benefits offered by CNC machining to your particular project. And, even if CNC machining turns out to not be a perfect fit for you, your manufacturing partner will help identify the best prototyping solution for you.

Pacific Research Laboratories consultants can contribute a wide breadth of design and prototyping knowledge to your project. Using this input, you will be able to make the tough choices about what prototyping tool is best for your vision, and how your prototype can be used to get your product to market faster. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

5 Common CNC Machining Techniques

CNC machining techniques allow creators to build products with a high degree of accuracy and detail. Using computer numerical control software, teamed with cutting implements and tools, enables these developers to limit the risk of human error in their designs, and create a highly sophisticated process that yields the best result. However, this isn’t just one single method. It’s an umbrella term that refers to a whole host of other techniques.

Choosing the right one is a matter of understanding the risk, benefits, and details of the various options. Some work best for more sophisticated projects, while others are ideal when adding finishing touches. By reviewing all the available features in CNC machinery, creators will be better prepared to take ownership of the product creation process.

5 CNC Machining Techniques and Their Pros and Cons 

CNC Machining Techniques

While CNC machining generally refers to the overarching use of computer numerical coding to control tools, its application will change based on the types involved. Here are the five most common CNC machining techniques in use today.

1. Milling 

This process employs multi-point, rotating tools to cut and shape materials. The speed of rotation can reach thousands of RPMs a minute.  In this, the workpiece feeds to the milling tool rather than the tool coming to the piece. Pros: Milling allows exceptional control over the cutting of materials and can remove a lot or a little at a time.
Cons: CNC programming in milling machines is very complex and is typically only done by the most skilled operators.

2. Turning 

A stationary tool trims away excess material from a rotating workpiece. The piece that holds the workpiece and rotates it is called a lathe Pros: Turning can be ideal for high-volume situations where many parts or pieces are required.
Cons: Shapes are typically limited to cylindrical types like spheres and cones.

3. Electrical discharge machining 

Electrical discharge machining, or EDM, uses electric sparks to melt and shape metal without the need to cut a piece. There are two main types of EDM: wire EDM and die-sink EDM. Pros: This is ideal when a material is fragile and can not stand up under heavy cutting.
Cons: This is a lengthy process that is mainly designed for finishing touches, not complete projects.

4. Grinding 

A rotating grinding wheel moves against the surface of a piece to shape it. The function is somewhat similar to milling, though grinding does not employ cutting tools. Pros: This process creates a high-quality surface, making it ideal as a finishing tool.
Cons: This is a slow process as no cutters are involved, and material is removed through abrasion instead.

5. Drilling 

A drilling process in CNC machining is somewhat self-explanatory. It makes use of drills to create precise holes and chip away at excess materials. Pros: Drilling is an economical and somewhat easy process when compared to other CNC machining techniques.
Cons: Application may be limited without a tool turret to change drill bits as needed.

In addition to the five above categories of CNC machining, each may have their own subcategories of tools which are useful for various parts of new product development. As a result, creators must work with partners experienced in all the various applications of CNC machining.

Choosing the Right CNC Machining Process 

Often, it’s not a matter of choosing a single CNC machining technique for the creation of a product—instead, it’s about developing a process that uses several methods in the right order. The capabilities of shops can vary widely across the industry. Choosing a partner with access to a wide range of tools is best.

Aside from those techniques, it’s also vital to look at the software that controls these machines, as they are what guide the product design. There is a variety of computer-aided design and manufacturing software (CAD and CAM) available on the market, so some programs are more robust than others. Some are targeted at beginners, which makes them unsuitable for major commercial usage that most creators need for their products. Among professionals, software like Mastercam is considered more appropriate for creating products for the mass market.

Ideally, creators will be able to tour the shop of their preferred company and even see some CNC machining techniques in action. This up-close look will help them determine which partners are right for them and gain confidence in the process. The right one will have a wide variety of options to share to ensure the best, most precise designs and manufacturing plans.

Pacific Research Laboratories uses a wide range of CNC machining techniques to create better designs and simplify manufacturing. Visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603  for more information on our capabilities and past projects.

What are the Advantages of Rapid Tooling?

If you’re trying to get a new product to market, you’ve probably heard that rapid tooling is one of the best ways to prototype and test your design. It’s true—there are a number of advantages of rapid tooling, particularly for small businesses or entrepreneurs looking to get their ideas on the market fast. 

However, before you hire a contract manufacturer that specializes in rapid tooling, it’s important to know exactly how this process can benefit your business. When is rapid tooling useful? Are there other tooling methods that will get you better results? In this guide, you’ll learn which advantages rapid tooling has over conventional tooling systems and whether it’s the right choice for your project. 

How Does Rapid Tooling Differ from Other Tooling Processes?    

Rapid tooling is the process of making a part, prototype, or mold in a very short timeframe. This definition is broad, so this process often looks very different from one project to the next. For example, you can send a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model to a 3D printer and have a prototype ready within just a few hours. Or you can create a custom mold, which you can then use to manufacture multiple injection-molded parts from different test materials in quick succession. While a conventional tooling process generally takes weeks or months to complete, a rapid tooling process may take days or even hours. 

The rapid tooling process also differs from conventional tooling in that it generally involves fewer steps. For example, if you decide to construct a prototype using conventional tooling methods, you may have to use multiple manufacturing processes and techniques. Rather than relying on automated technology like 3D printers or CNC machinery to do the bulk of the work, you may have human workers and engineers designing and developing prototypes manually. These extra steps extend the time you spend in the design and prototyping stage and increase total product development costs. 

This is why many businesses take advantage of rapid tooling instead of relying on conventional tooling methods. However, to decide whether rapid tooling is the best choice for your project, you should take a closer look at its benefits and weigh them against any potential disadvantages. 

Advantages of rapid tooling

The Advantages of Rapid Tooling for Businesses   

There are many direct and indirect advantages of rapid tooling for businesses and entrepreneurs. That is what makes this process so compelling—when you save time and money on prototyping or mold manufacturing, you could also experience benefits related to ROI and even the overall quality of your product. 

Here are five of the most notable advantages of rapid tooling for businesses: 

#1: Faster Time to Market 

The faster you can get through the prototyping and molding process, the sooner you can finalize your design and get it into your customers’ hands. You don’t have to wait days for a woodworker to shape a physical prototype or waste time recreating a computerized model from a rough physical prototype. Creating a computerized model of the design or mold early in the process and letting automated machinery handle the rest is the quickest way to test your design and move on to the manufacturing stage. 

#2: Reduced Product Development Costs

It generally costs less to hire a contract manufacturer to provide rapid tooling services than it does to hire a staff of engineers to shape prototypes or molds manually. The rapid tooling process also saves your business money over time. The longer you spend in the prototyping or molding stage, the greater your product development costs will be. Shaving just a few days off the prototyping process could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

#3: Superior Design Testing 

Rapid tooling allows you to make multiple prototypes or molds in very little time. This gives you more freedom to make design adjustments and test out new ideas. By comparison, if a prototype takes days or weeks to complete, you may be less inclined to change the design, even if it would improve the final product. Sinking significant costs or energy into one prototype discourages innovation. Alternatively, if you can make prototypes in just a few hours, you can experiment more and land on a design that you feel confident in and that your customers will value. 

#4: Types of  Materials 

One advantage of rapid tooling that more businesses are leveraging is the use of injection-molded parts. You can use rapid tooling to quickly create a custom mold with virtually any physical dimensions (although the more complex the mold is, the more difficult it will be to manufacture). You can then create as many parts from this mold as you need. This is particularly useful for testing different types of materials and their properties. If you’re unsure exactly which material will perform best, you can use a mold to make multiple prototypes from each material and perform thorough quality control tests on them. 

#5: Increased ROI 

Rapid tooling reduces product development time so you can start making a return on your investment fast. Lower prototyping and production costs also increase your overall ROI because once you begin selling your product, you can quickly recoup any upfront expenses you incurred. This is particularly beneficial for businesses that have limited production budgets and business owners who strive to keep their operations as lean as possible

Another underrated advantage of rapid tooling is that it’s becoming much more accessible than it once was. The most experienced product developers often have many rapid tooling resources available to their clients, including 3D printers, CNC machines, metal sintering tools, and other automated or robotic systems. It’s no longer an option reserved exclusively for large corporations with near-limitless resources. Even if you’re a solo entrepreneur with little experience making prototypes or molds, when you work with a skilled contract manufacturer, you’ll have access to some of the most efficient and advanced tools and machinery for the task. 

Utilizing rapid tooling resources

Finding the Best Rapid Tooling Process  

Although there are many advantages of rapid tooling, it’s not a perfect solution for every project. The main disadvantage of rapid tooling is that the prototypes or molded parts it produces may not be as precise as those created using conventional tooling methods (depending on the methodology used). However, this is becoming less of a concern in the modern product development industry. Tools like 3D printers and CNC machines are becoming much more advanced and are capable of producing complex parts with a high degree of accuracy and precision. In other words, you don’t necessarily have to spend months perfecting your design and prototype if you want to create a high-quality product. 

With this in mind, the main deciding factor is whether you can find a rapid tooling expert you can trust. An experienced contract manufacturer will work closely with you on the design and offer you advice on whether rapid tooling is appropriate for your project. They may ask you questions like: 

  • What is your ideal timeline for getting your product to market? 
  • Do you need to test multiple materials? 
  • How complex is your design and does it require a high degree of precision? 
  • What is your total product development budget
  • Do you want to create a mold that you can later use for large-scale manufacturing? 

Your answers to these questions will help engineers determine whether rapid tooling is the best option for your project. Even if conventional tooling turns out to be the better choice for you, then the contract manufacturer will create a detailed plan for getting through the conventional tooling process as quickly as possible without going over budget. Using their expertise and resources, you’ll move from the prototyping stage to the manufacturing stage with relative ease.

Pacific Research Laboratories is an experienced contract manufacturer specializing in rapid tooling and other advanced prototyping methodologies. Our team of skilled engineers will help you find the best tools and will work closely with you throughout the design and development process. If you’re ready to get your idea to market, visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

Rapid Tooling vs Conventional Tooling: Three Key Differences and Why They Matter

Tooling is a vital step on the path to manufacturing. It involves creating the tools that create the product, like molds, dies, cutting equipment, jigs, and other custom parts. However, there’s a range of options in managing this process. What the creator chooses is going to depend on three basic factors: speed, cost, and minimally acceptable quality. Those are the three primary differences between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling.   

Key Considerations in Choosing a Tooling Method

Before choosing a tooling method, the creator should review some basic criteria about their concept, which will help to guide them in their decision. Ideally, they should consider:

  • Design stage: While any product design has room for improvement, how far along the creator is in reaching near perfection will help them understand if they’re ready to start actual production, or if more prototyping is needed to work out kinks. 
  • Product complexity: The more moving parts and complex components a product has, the longer it will take to perfect the prototype and a process for manufacturing it. 
  • Intended market: Products designed for the mass market are going to have drastically different tooling needs than those designed for a small, specialized group, or limited runs of items. 
  • Potential competition: An idea is rarely 100% unique. It is far more common that more than a few people have the same basic concept in mind to solve a common problem. In many cases, the successful launch of a design depends on not who creates a better product, but who gets the product to market first. 
  • Budget and funding: An inventor may want to create a working prototype using their funding before reaching out to investors or venture capital groups. In this case, it’s usually better to conserve funds in the beginning by using lower-cost tooling methods. 

Those factors will give creators a good idea of their needs when it comes to rapid tooling vs conventional tooling. This information helps them narrow down what’s most important, whether it’s creating a product quickly, cost-effectively, or with a focus on the highest quality standards. 

Rapid Tooling vs Conventional Tooling: Three Differences 

Understanding the differences between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling

Conventional tooling can mean a lot of different things, but it basically boils down to using many different manufacturing processes to create a product. Human workers will manage much of the process, as opposed to robotic or automated technology.  Rapid tooling often accompanies rapid prototyping. It’s useful for establishing product models, as well as troubleshooting existing issues with them. It is not typically used for large-scale manufacturing, though occasionally comes in handy for smaller runs. 

When considering rapid tooling, it’s also important to note there are two basic types; direct and indirect. Indirect tooling methods are sometimes called “pattern-based,” as a master schematic is necessary to build the item. Direct rapid tooling, on the other hand, does not use a pattern and instead leverages additive processes for the direct creation of necessary parts. Choosing between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling is about looking at their key differences, which are; 

#1: Speed

Rapid tooling is significantly faster than the conventional process. This is particularly useful in instances where small-run manufacturing is extremely time-sensitive. The creation of a prototype and troubleshooting of that prototype are also ideal candidates for rapid prototyping due to the need to work expeditiously and create multiple iterations of the same concept. 

#2: Cost

Rapid tooling is much more cost-effective because it’s a simplified process that takes less time and requires less human labor. Also, as much of it is managed by machine and computer programs, the risk of human error, which can lead to wasted resources and labor, is reduced. 

#3: Quality

Rapid tooling often results in parts that are less durable and have shorter lifespans than those created via conventional tooling. These types of tools will likely also impact the longevity of the products they create. That’s not always a bad thing, as some products aren’t meant to last for the long term, so spending money to ensure their durability is wasteful. 

Working with a Partner to Establish Tooling Needs 

In some cases, a creator won’t have to choose one or the other when it comes to deciding between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling. They may use rapid tooling while in the product development stage, and then switch to conventional methods when they’re ready to manufacture the product. While it’s easy to get a basic idea of what’s best by considering the needs of the individual product, it’s wise to consult with an expert who is familiar with both designing products and manufacturing them. Ideally, the creator will work with design engineers who have completed similar products in the past to gain the benefit of their experience.

Pacific Research Laboratories can help you choose between rapid tooling vs conventional tooling, to include establishing a method that combines rapid tooling’s speed and cost-effectiveness with conventional tooling’s quality results. Visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603 to learn more.

5 Key Advantages of Using CNC Machinery in Manufacturing

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery is growing more popular, and it’s easy to see why. This high-tech manufacturing method removes many of the barriers that prevent designers from creating the products of their dreams. One of the greatest advantages of using CNC machinery is that you can build very complex components with a high degree of accuracy that simply isn’t possible using conventional methods of the past. 

Whether you’re looking to manufacture the most consistent parts or you have an idea for a complex and innovative new product, you should strongly consider using CNC machinery for your next project. 

The Role of CNC Machinery in Manufacturing 

A CNC machine uses specialized software to control cutting tools or other manufacturing instruments. To program the machine, a programmer or skilled engineer uploads a digital model of the component or product from a computer-aided design (CAD) system. Then, using a CNC coding language called G-Code, the programmer gives the machine detailed manufacturing instructions such as:

  • Where to cut or perform certain actions; 
  • How fast to perform each action; 
  • Which parts of the machinery must coordinate to perform a task; 
  • The rate at which raw materials get fed into the machine or work station; 
  • And more. 

This differs from conventional machinery in that the entire process is programmed on a computer in advance and performed remotely by sophisticated machines. 

By comparison, conventional machinery is usually performed by a team of engineers or operators who directly oversee individual machines that perform specific tasks in stages. For example, a part may go through a mill, grinder, and lathe, each of which is operated by different specialists. It’s a much more time-consuming and labor-intensive process. This is one of the main reasons why CNC machinery is playing a greater role in modern manufacturing. CNC machinery is a sleek, elegant solution to the most complex engineering and manufacturing challenges

Using CNC Machinery on the Shop Floor

5 Major Advantages of Using CNC Machinery 

One of the main reasons why CNC machinery is so popular is because it enables product designers to create more complex components. These machines are especially useful for manufacturing parts with angles that are difficult to measure and cut manually. But there are many other advantages of using CNC machinery in the modern manufacturing industry, such as: 

#1: Eliminating Human Error and Inconsistencies 

When you make a part or product by-hand or using conventional methods, you can’t achieve the same degree of consistency and accuracy as you can using CNC machinery. CNC machines use design software, detailed model references, and fine-tuned precision tools to produce and replicate multiple parts that are virtually identical (with an average variation of less than 0.020mm—sometimes as little as 0.003mm). Even the most advanced conventional machines can’t duplicate these results. 

This means that you’ll get an extremely uniform end product. In industries where high uniformity matters (such as the automotive, aerospace, dentistry, and medical industries), this is a major advantage. It’s also a must-have for companies building complex machines or electronics that require different parts to fit together perfectly. Any slight variation in size, shape, or texture could cause the final product to malfunction. With CNC machinery, you can make almost any object and replicate it over and over—even if it’s incredibly complex and detailed. 

#2: Speeding Up the Manufacturing Process 

Unlike manual manufacturing or conventional machinery, which requires an engineer to operate or supervise the process, CNC machinery is a more hands-off method. Most CNC machines operate automatically without any direct input or control from engineers. The machine is ready to go as soon as it receives its instructions from the computer and the manufacturer supplies the raw materials. This means that you can fabricate parts much faster, as there’s no manual labor or excessive downtime required. Some machines can even operate 24/7. 

#3: Using Fewer Resources 

One of the advantages of using CNC machinery is that you’ll maximize resources at every stage of the product development process. In the early stages, you only need a skilled engineer or programmer to create a digital model of the design and program the machine. When it’s time to manufacture the product, the CNC machine is largely self-sufficient (but may be monitored by an operator). It can also be programmed to reduce waste and only use as much raw material as absolutely necessary. 

#4: Reducing Manufacturing Costs Over Time 

Using fewer resources and labor also leads to cost savings. When you conserve your resources, you can either reinvest what you saved into manufacturing more parts or you can reduce the retail price of your end product to gain a competitive advantage and attract customers. And, when you outsource your product development to a full-service CNC machinery provider, you’ll also save on overhead costs. The manufacturer is responsible for purchasing software licenses and the machinery, repairing or replacing machines and cutting tools, and hiring staff to oversee the process. You’ll only pay for the final results. 

#5: Scaling Up Production 

One final advantage of using CNC machinery is that it gives you more manufacturing options. You can start with a limited run of high-quality components. Later, if the demand for your product is high or you need to quickly scale up to corner the market, it’s very easy to fabricate more parts using a CNC machine. Moreover, the quality and consistency of your products remain exactly the same whether you’re building just a few parts or thousands. You can decide exactly how many parts you need at any given moment and reduce excess inventory. 

It’s also very easy to make a part again, even years after you first manufactured it. As long as you have the design stored securely in the CNC software, you can return to it as often as you’d like. 

With so many advantages of using CNC machinery in manufacturing, it’s an option that every product designer and business owner should seriously consider. 

Using CNC Machinery
Should You Use CNC Machinery? 

For most projects, the advantages of using CNC machinery are clear. If you’re looking for a manufacturing method that can deliver top quality products quickly with a high degree of accuracy and precision, CNC machinery is the obvious choice. It’s efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. 

It’s also the ideal choice for industries that demand consistent parts or products that must be completed by a strict deadline. For example, some industries that almost exclusively use CNC machinery for manufacturing are: 

  • Dental and medical device companies; 
  • Telecommunications and oceanography;
  • The military and other government organizations; 
  • Complex electronics manufacturers (for products like cell phones or computers); 
  • And many more. 

However, while there are many advantages of using CNC machinery, it isn’t necessarily the right choice for every project. This method can be more expensive than other manufacturing options, depending on how complex your product is or how many parts you need to build. For instance, if you only need to manufacture a dozen simple universal parts, then advanced CNC machinery may be excessive. Rapid casting, 3D printing, and other small scale manufacturing methods are often better alternatives in this case. 

To decide whether CNC machinery is right for your project, you should get in touch with an experienced team of manufacturing engineers who will walk you through the pros and cons of this system. They will take into consideration your manufacturing budget, the complexity of the part or product you want to make, how many units you need, and how fast you’d like them built. With this custom, holistic approach, you’ll get the most out of the manufacturing process.

Pacific Research Laboratories uses advanced CNC machinery and other manufacturing methods to help our clients bring their products to life as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more about our manufacturing services, visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.