At Reata Engineering, we excel at overcoming manufacturing challenges and machining complex parts that not only meet all specifications but also function flawlessly. However, to do our job well, we first need a firm grasp of a part’s application.
Understanding the intended function of a part before a precision machining project begins helps us identify areas of focus, flag potential problems, and identify opportunities to optimize the design—all with the goal of saving you time and money and delivering the highest-quality results.
Why Share Information about Your Part’s Application?
Sharing information about your part’s application bridges the gap between design and precision machining, yielding six significant customer benefits:
1. Correct order of operations
Manufacturers must decide the necessary order of operations when machining and inspecting parts. It may sound strange, but it’s possible to make parts to print that don’t function as intended because of the order of machining operations!
Castings are a great example of this phenomenon. When casting parts, the material moves as it undergoes different machining operations. We can make a part in multiple ways and still meet print specifications, but only one order of operations will result in a part that also functions properly.
2. Properly mating parts
Providing adequate information about your application is essential when manufacturing mating parts that require a precise fit.
For instance, there are times when mating parts with the same radius won’t fit together when mated due to a tolerance overlap. In these cases, our team will contact the customer and update the dimensions to ensure the parts fit together as intended.
3. Sharp edge safety
It’s important for us to know which surfaces will come into contact with people’s hands so we can remove sharp edges and ensure the surfaces are safe to handle.
While removing burrs from a sharp edge may be enough to meet print specs, we might recommend chamfering it to remove the 90-degree edge.
Recently we spent extra time deburring a retractor for one of our customers in the medical industry so that it wouldn’t cut through surgical gloves that rubbed along the edge.
4. Better cosmetic outcomes
Knowing which surfaces will be visible to the end user helps us understand where and how to hold the part during finishing treatments to avoid scratches or damage.
For example, during plating processes in which a part is held by a rack, the surfaces where the rack makes contact with the part may not take the color from plating. As a result, platers need to know where to rack the parts to produce the desired cosmetic outcomes.
We encourage customers to tell us where to rack their parts in their drawings, but please ask us if you aren’t sure of the ideal location. We can advise you on placement so that your parts meet your cosmetic requirements.
5. Efficient assemblies
Sometimes when we complete an assembly with parts made by our team and other precision machine shops, the assembly won’t function as intended—despite our inspection process confirming the parts were made to print at each shop. In these cases, our assembly team must scramble to find workarounds, sometimes even sanding parts to make them fit together.
Knowing the intended use for the assembly from the beginning helps mitigate these inefficiencies. Before building an assembly, we can find and address incongruencies that threaten to interfere with its function.
6. A backup plan
Sometimes customers stop documenting every important note in their prints, trusting that a long-term contract manufacturing partner already knows what to do.
While tribal knowledge is indeed valuable in manufacturing, it’s not very helpful if circumstances suddenly change and you need a backup supplier.
It’s best to include comprehensive information about your part’s application so that you have the flexibility to move your project to another manufacturer and know that your parts will be made correctly.
How to Communicate Information about Your Part’s Application
We encourage our customers to share as much information about their application as possible so we can get them the parts they need.
The preferred way to get us this information is to place all of your orders with us so that we can manage your entire project from start to finish. 🙂
Otherwise, including details on your drawings is the next best option. It’s also essential to open a line of communication between us and your engineering and assembly teams. We always like to say that a machinist’s best friend is an excellent assembler. At Reata Engineering, we love receiving feedback from customers’ assembly teams; it enables us to reduce inefficiencies and make everyone’s jobs easier.
When our customers let us know their parts’ intended function, we’re better equipped to evaluate the project and complete the job successfully. Let’s work together on your next precision machining project—request a quote today to get started.