Best Materials for Manufacturing High-Quality Products

When evaluating materials for manufacturing, creators have a lot to consider. They need to think about the integrity of their eventual product, of course, but they also need to review how materials can make manufacturing costs skyrocket. It’s not just the quality of the materials themselves that makes them so expensive. It’s the challenges involved in sourcing them and the difficulty of working with them.

Some materials require extensive preparation, which can make manufacturing time-consuming. Others may offer a faster path to production but not provide the quality the creator desires. At Pacific Research Laboratories, we work with a wide range of materials, even going as far as customizing some for projects.  This strategy helps us take a design for manufacturing approach that allows creators to ramp up production without dealing with unexpected expense hikes.   

Materials for Manufacturing vs. Materials for Prototyping

Materials used for manufacturing versus materials used for prototyping can differ significantly. At the prototyping stage, the goal is a working model of the creator’s design. The eventual product that rolls off the production line is far more sophisticated. Here are just a few ways materials differ in these disparate processes.

Materials for Manufacturing

Materials for Prototyping

Minimizing steps in the production process speeds time to completion. That’s why it’s not unusual to choose materials that come out of production clean, without the need for additional trimming or finishing. Some common material choices in manufacturing include:

  • Thermoplastics
  • Carbon and Glass Fiber
  • Metal
Prototyping will occur in multiple steps as the creator works out kinks and issues with their design. Lower cost, less durable materials may limit expenses while providing a sufficient working model. Some common choices for materials in the prototyping process include:

  • Silicones
  • Urethane resins
  • Wood
  • Mass Cast Epoxy
  • Rigid Urethane Foam

It’s also important to note that rarely is a product made of a single simple material. Carbon or glass fibers are great examples. They won’t make up the entire body of a work but will be added to provide reinforcement and durability. Also, there’s no hard-fast rule that says certain materials are only appropriate for manufacturing or prototyping. Some can be quite versatile and easily adaptable for both. 

Common Manufacturing Materials

Common manufacturing materials run the gamut from complex composites to simple, easily formed plastics.  Choices will depend on design, budget, and the size of the manufacturing run planned. Here are just a few common materials for manufacturing.

Pros

Cons

Metals: These come in varying levels of durability and workability. Two popular options in the category include aluminum and stainless steel.
  • Highly durable in both strength and extreme temperatures
  • Sophisticated results
  • Versatile enough for a wide range of applications
  • Requires advanced training to process
  • High cost due to finite supply and expense of transportation
  • Vulnerable to rust without coating
Polymers: These are petroleum-based plastics which can be highly customizable.  They can be both natural, like rubber, or human-made like polyethylene
  • Low learning curve for processing
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Excellent in automated, mass manufacturing processes
  • Poor resistance to heat
  • Lower overall quality
  • Limited structural rigidity
  • Presents challenges in machining
Epoxies: These are technically polymers, but they provide higher thermal and chemical resistance
  • Excellent heat and electrical resistance
  • Adheres to a wide variety of substances, making it an ideal coating
  • May be hazardous to handle
  • Can be brittle without additional processing
  • Could expand or melt in extreme temperatures
Composites: This covers custom materials as well as known composites, like plexiglass. If it’s a combination of two distinct materials, it’s a composite.
  • Highly customizable and durable
  • High thermal stability
  • Applicable for a wide range of uses and production processes
  • Typically unsustainable and not recyclable
  • Less durable than other materials like metal
  • May require specialized handling

These are just a few options that creators can consider when it comes time to manufacture their products. Of course, what will be available to them will depend on the machinery their partner has at their disposal. The right partner can also help them choose the best possible material to manage costs in manufacturing while producing the highest quality product.

Making the Best Choice with a Partner

Creators should seek out the guidance of an experienced partner before deciding on their materials for manufacturing. Many creators may have an idea in their head that’s simply infeasible at the expected price point. An experienced partner will have a unique understanding of all material categories and subcategories to make creators aware of the limitations they may face in manufacturing.

Materials for manufacturing can change dramatically from those used in prototyping. Additional parts, coatings, and finishes can add to the steps and expenses. Pacific Research Laboratories uses a wide range of materials and a design for manufacturing approach to ensure our clients get the best quality at the most cost-effective price point.

WORK WITH THE HIGHEST QUALITY MATERIALS FOR MANUFACTURING

Pacific Research Laboratories helps guide you to the best materials for manufacturing so you can create a sustainable, cost-effective design. Visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603 for more information.

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