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What Is Low-Volume Manufacturing?
It refers to small run production with medium quantity. Depending on different manufacturing techniques and processing methods, the order quantity is a medium figure range from 100 to 50K pieces.
In the manufacturing industry, there is a fact that products are required with greater variety and customization than ever before. To match the market need, it is getting more and more important these days.
What Are the low volume manufacturing methods?
A variety of manufacturing processes have been developed to cover a wide range of applications during low volume manufacturing. It almost involves every manufacturing industry we can see, the most common methods are as below:
√ Low Volume CNC machining production
CNC machining is an ideal way to create complex parts with high precision, it is wildly used in almost all manufacturing word. Besides, it does not ask for tooling, the parts can be created without a quantity limit requirement, it is the most important and perfect way for small volume production.
√ Small Volume Sheet metal fabrication production
This machining way is used to create sheet metal parts with all kinds of sizes with standard gauge metal material. In most cases, it does not refer to high-cost tooling. This makes it possible to run into production easily and perfectly meets the requirement of a small run order.
√ Low Volume Plastic injection molding production
There are two types of injection mold, the metal injection and aluminum injection mold, the difference is that aluminum injection mold talks less lead time and cost with less life. Therefore,
It is more proper and popular to use the aluminum mold for small run injection molding production.
In this way, it can create high precision plastic parts at very high efficiency with a low unit cost.
√ Small batch Aluminum extrusion production
Aluminum extrusion production can help you to create the same section aluminum parts easily at a low cost. It needs an extrusion tool but it is cheap, so it is proper to use it into low run manufacturing.
√ Low Volume 3D printing production
Unlike plastic injection molding, 3D printing does not ask for a tool to produce parts, this saves huge time and money on the tool. Besides, it makes the design to be flexible that the part design can be changed at any time during the production. Therefore, 3D printing is a cost-effective, faster, and more flexible solution for the low volume production of plastic parts than other traditional methods.
√ Short-run die casting production
Die Casting is a very cost-efficient way to make a high volume of aluminum alloy parts. However, it also can be used in the low volume build with a competitive cost. Especially when we build complex metal parts, it is much cheaper than CNC machining method.
What Are the Benefits Of Low-Volume Manufacturing?
In the past, this is a fact that mass production is the best choice for high-volume needs. However, due to the fast development of advanced computer software, other machining technology, and market requirement, production lines start to turn to low-volume manufacturing slowly. The reason is that company can get more benefits with small batch production. Sounds counter-intuitive? Let us check out why.
√ Bring more flexibility for product design
Low volume production usually means less part quantity. Once the product design change comes, it does not greatly impact the order progress and takes less cost lost.
Besides, 3-D printing and CNC machining are flexible machining processes. If there is a design tweak, the factory can stop production right away. At the same time, the new design can immediately be run into the machining progress.
These give companies more room to design a better product for the market.
√ Save cost
As mentioned above, it can save a huge cost if a redesign comes.
Besides, it can save costs from the tool. Compared to low volume production, the tool for high volume needs to be more durable, this usually takes more time and cost.
Take plastic injection molding for example. The big batch order needs a steel mold. The small-batch order, on the other hand, only requires an aluminum mold. When we look into the cost for both, aluminum mold is much cheaper than and steel mold, the gap goes up to 50% in a lot of cases.
√ Pilot and Bridge production
According to the ISO product design procedure, there are three design phases: engineer design stage, pilot production stage, and mass production stage.
It means that it is important to have a pilot production before mass production. Usually, the pilot production quantity is from 50-500sets with a fast turn-around requirement. The low volume manufacturing here can take the role of pilot production perfectly as bridge production.
√ Lower production lead time
Due to the big flexibility of product redesign and tool, the low volume manufacturing can have the order finished at a quick lead time. For instance, at RapidDone, we can make your CNC machined parts in days instead of weeks or months.
Fast lead time is an important parameter for your market strategy. you’ll have a quicker route to market and take up more sales opportunities than your competitors.
The Low-Volume Manufacturing Application
It covers almost all the manufacturing industry, lists some as below:
• Custom low-volume CNC machined parts
• Rapid Plastic injection molded parts
• Customer sheet metal fabrication parts
• Low run plastic manufacturing
• engineering prototypes production
• low volume automotive manufacturing
• 3D printing pilot production run
Start Your Next Low-Volume Project Today
Low-volume manufacturing brings a lot of profits to manufacturers, so it has become more and more important and popular today.
RapidDone is a rapid prototype and on-demand manufacturing company, we can offer the best made-to-order services including prototyping services. If you have any projects with medium quantity, it is ideal to consider this production solution.
Send us an inquiry now, our team will follow up quickly and give you back with a complete solution.