You want to keep your supplier list for precision and Swiss parts as short as possible. But, too often, the precision machine shop that’s willing and able to fill your large production order won’t even touch your prototype request. So, instead of keeping your supplier list short and sweet, you have separate suppliers for your prototyping and production needs.
While it can take some digging, finding and forming a relationship with a shop that will take your print from prototype to production can save you significant time and take you to market faster.
Read on to find out how to assess shops at the prototyping stage and why you should trust your work to a precision machine shop that demonstrates prototyping excellence.
Prototyping: The Big Audition
Before you can think about full production, you need a precision machine shop that can demonstrate superior prototyping ability.
At the prototyping phase, it’s beneficial to look for a precision machine shop that can deliver on three key performance indicators – rapid turnaround, high quality and clear communication.
1. Rapid Turnaround
Knowledgeable engineers at Swiss or precision machine shops understand that time to market is critical. You’re working to get your product to market before the competition, so you need a supplier who can turn around your prototype quickly.
Once the prototype process is complete, using the same machine shop for production can drastically shorten your production cycle because the machines used to manufacture your part are already set up.
According to one medical device company CEO, “I like to take advantage of prototyping time with a machine shop to develop a relationship and to have them get their fixturing and setup ready, so that when I’m ready to go to production, I don’t have to wait six weeks.”
2. High Quality
Anyone can make one part, but you need assurance that the process to make your part is stable and repeatable. You need data – especially if you’re in the medical device or aeronautics industries.
Look for a Swiss or precision machine shop that can demonstrate that they monitor the machining process from beginning to end. With their documentation, you’ll have the data you need to ensure the part can be made accurately over and over again.
3. Clear Communication
Experienced precision and Swiss engineers will demonstrate their expertise and willingness to collaborate during every conversation or email exchange. The prototyping stage is the best time to identify cost drivers and other design issues because the part is not yet locked into a production run.
Look for a shop with engineers who actively seek to engage with you to identify cost drivers and any potential issues in the design or machinability of your part.
When you find a Swiss or precision machine shop that can deliver a rapid turnaround, quality work and excellent communication, you can be confident that they can handle your larger production run. And once you’ve built that relationship, you’re one step closer to shrinking your supplier list, shortening the time between prototype and production, and ultimately going to market faster than the competition.
At Micro-Matics, we’re serious about earning your business one prototype at a time. Contact us today if you need a custom prototype, advice on machinability or a quote.
Micro-Matics will be exhibiting at the Midwest’s largest medtech event – Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) Minneapolis, October 31 – November 1, 2018, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to visit us at booth #2109.