prototype machining

Top 5 Questions to Ask When Considering Prototype Machining

Cass Precision Machining is proud to unveil Cass Rapid Prototype Machining (C-RPM), a new independent business unit operating within our five-building campus. C-RPM significantly ramps up our ability to serve you with prototype build-to-print contract machined parts services with accelerated delivery responsiveness. Operating as a business within a business, C-RPM’s “high touch” service connects you directly with our prototyping team. C-RPM continues our 75-year commitment to providing the “Best-in-Class” service.

News of the launch of our C-RPM unit was recently in the news, getting featured on websites MarketWatch, the Chicago Daily Herald, and Minnesota Metals News.

When considering outsourcing your prototype machining requirements, here are five questions you should be asking your supplier candidates:

1. Will I have access to DFM (Design for Manufacturing) resources?

When optimizing functionality and cost of new parts, the most experienced design engineers will seek to collaborate with production engineers to assure that their designs take full advantage of the lowest cost options available for the part, while still achieving desired functionality.  Your supplier should be able to provide your design team access to the right folks to review and confirm your prototype design or suggest options that assure production-ability within cost targets.

2. Are design intent, application specifics, and life cycle requirements part of the pre-order dialogue?

Best DFM practices suggest that designers collaborate with the supplier to understand the fit of the part into the overall design, the functional requirements, and the life cycle volume expectations so that your supplier comes to the table with recommendations to improve your design while optimizing your cost position.

3. Are material selection, critical tolerances, and general manufacturing standards addressed and confirmed at time of order entry?

Industry experts claim that 70 to 80% of the life cycle cost of a part is locked in once the design is finalized and released to production.  Before building that first prototype part, checking in with your supplier to confirm that your material selection is the lowest cost alternative for your application and that the critical tolerances can be achieved, but also have been reviewed and optimized with your supplier helps assure that the best starting point for cost can be delivered.  Don’t forget to compare your general drawing requirements (e.g. tolerances, finish specs, etc.) with your suppliers’ shop standards as another means of identifying areas where production costs can be minimized.

4. Can the supplier provide you with a “complete part”?

It is a challenge – particularly under design-build schedules calling for breakneck speed to market responsiveness – to choose a supplier and then have to vet, select and qualify additional suppliers for finishing services or value-added features on your part. Shop for the prototype supplier that can coordinate it all for you and relieve some of the hassles that quick turn manufacturing presents to your supply chain professionals.

5. Can the supplier support the full life cycle requirements for your parts?

There is no doubt that when working with rapid prototype machining, there is an advantage to being able to partner with the same supplier. Clearly, the costs of switching suppliers can be prohibitive and under today’s JIT supply chain pressures, logistically challenging as well. An often overlooked benefit is the ease of processing rev changes over the life cycle of the part to respond to functionality needs or to aid in cost reduction/management when your supplier remains a constant.

We encourage you to build these five questions into your prototype machining supplier selection process. We look forward to being challenged to reply to your specifics when you include Cass into the mix. We think you’ll like our answers and look forward to building strong partnerships with you for the long haul!