These days, everyone knows that time is of the essence when it comes to New Product Development. Marketing comes up with ideas, Management signs off and of course Engineering and Manufacturing groups are left holding the bag on developing, testing and producing the product. And naturally, it was due yesterday. Not everyone in the New Product Development chain truly grasps the challenges that come with ensuring a new design can meet specs at the right price and lead time. Putting the plan together is only half the battle. Another piece of the puzzle is finding someone to do it. Whether its Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Carbon Steel, or Polymers, more often than not you will need to find a machine shop capable of prototype CNC machining.
CNC Machine shops come in all shapes and sizes, making a good prototype shop hard to find. There's shops that are intended to run thousands of parts in each run, requiring a static design and efficient cycle times. There's mom and pop shops, where the machinist acts as the "engineer", inspector and operator. There's dozens of other flavors. In this case we want to highlight the shops that are capable of prototype CNC machining in a very effective manner. PEKO Precision Products and companies with similar capabilities understand what it takes to build a relationship starting with prototype parts. To ensure a prototyping customer is happy, the following must be addressed
- What does this part go into? What is the product function
- How fast is the part needed?
- Is the design friendly for manufacturing, aka is DFM taken into consideration?
- Can we easily transition the product into production runs? What will be the lot size?
- Do thte prints need updating? Can we communicate with the customer to help optimize design?
By putting forth this effort, the CNC prototype machine shop can truly partner with the customer. This kind of up front diligence can vastly speed up the NPD process and have huge benefits when the product runs into production.
Another thing to consider is the industry's in which the shop specializes. Medical (ISO 13485), Semiconductor, Aero & Defense (AS 9100) and Food have much different requirements than most other industries. These requirements must be understood even at the prototype stage, as they will propagate throughout the Development and into the production runs. It is certainly prudent to ensure this is taken into account. Too many times we've seen engineers have to red line a design because the requirements were not met in the prototype phase.
All in all, choosing a shop to do prototype CNC machining is a very important part of the New Product Development process and it should not be based simply on lead time and price. Ensure you are asking the right questions and that your end goal can be satisfied by the supplier. If you'd like some more information on our process at PEKO Precision Products, click below to get in contact with our Engineers