When beginning the prototyping process, many customers underestimate the importance of choosing an experienced contract manufacturing partner.
However, by actively collaborating with a knowledgeable shop from the start, customers can expedite product development, optimize costs, and ensure a smoother transition into production.
And don’t worry—It’s not too good to be true. It simply involves leveraging the principles of Design for Manufacturability (DFM), a practice that bridges the gap between what’s possible to design and what’s practical to manufacture.
Why Collaborate in the Prototype Phase?
When it comes to prototype machining services, collaboration between the customer and their manufacturing partner is vital—especially if the customer plans to transition to production.
Many customers make the mistake of outsourcing prototype machining services to a one-and-done shop because they think they’ll save money. But in doing so, they miss out on key opportunities for early collaboration that can result in significant time and cost savings once they’re ready to transition to production.
The earlier customers bring their machine shop partner into the picture, the better.
When customers engage with Reata from the design phase, we leverage our extensive DFM experience to identify critical design issues and optimize parts for production on our machines. Rest assured that we can help you reduce costs without impacting the quality or performance of your part.
Once the part is approved for production, the transition from prototyping to production is simple. Our machines are already set up from the prototyping phase, and our machinists are familiar with any unique processes or requirements.
Tip: involve both parties’ quality departments
Early collaboration between the customer’s and the manufacturer’s quality departments is the key to a seamless and efficient manufacturing process. Aligning measurement standards, inspection methods, and material choices can help prevent issues down the line.
Our DFM Checklist for Prototype Machining Services
To ensure success when prototyping, it’s essential to work with a machine shop that understands the intricacies of DFM. Often, designs can be modified to drastically decrease prices and lead times without impacting part functionality.
Here’s a checklist of what we look for when evaluating prototype designs:
- Unnecessarily tight tolerances
- Unconventional tooling
- Complex 3D surfacing
- Exceptionally deep or tapped holes
- Extremely small radii
- Factors requiring unique inspections
- Material choices and their impact on plating
Determining which design elements are necessary and which can be modified or simplified requires an experienced engineering team like Reata’s.
Mini Case Study: Collaborating on a Small Heatsink
Recently, we worked on a project involving a small heatsink. After the customer’s previous supplier couldn’t meet the beta production deadline for the prototype, the customer approached us with the challenge.
The issue was that the heatsink design demanded intricate milling of tiny fins. We collaborated with the customer and, using DFM principles, proposed minor design adjustments to the fins to run the part on a 5-axis machine.
In shifting to 5-axis machining, we could produce the heatsink in a single operation, eliminating potential bottlenecks and reducing the overall lead time.
Our complex machining capabilities and automation solutions enabled us to meet the production deadline–finishing the parts in only two days, and saving the customer money.
Tip: work with the experts
Working with a machine shop like Reata that boasts advanced technology and expertise can make all the difference, helping to reduce costs, improve speed, and enhance quality.
Choose Reata to Take Parts from Prototype to Production
At Reata, our customers are our partners. We always make time for detailed conversations about customer end goals to ensure satisfaction. When we understand the broader picture, we can help customers make more informed decisions regarding machining, inspection, plating, and materials.
Choosing a contract manufacturing partner is more than just another step in the manufacturing process—it holds the potential to revolutionize product development and save customers time and money.
Work with a shop like Reata. We prioritize collaboration from prototype to production to enhance the quality of your manufacturing journey.
Request a quote.