In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies are constantly seeking ways to optimize costs and accelerate product development timelines. Product cycles have become progressively shorter as companies are striving to respond quickly to changing market demands. This puts pressure on hardware engineering teams to be faster and more efficient in product development. The ability to rapidly produce prototypes and test designs plays a crucial role in achieving these goals. This article explores the benefits of in-house machining and how it can enable a company to meet their aspirational product development targets.
Shortening Development Cycles
In the race to capture market share and stay ahead of competitors, time is critical. In-house machining gives companies a distinct advantage by eliminating the need to outsource parts production for prototyping and testing. By reducing the time spent on vendor selection, quoting, vendor management, and avoiding standard machine shop lead-times, weeks to months can be recovered in the product development cycle. This enables an engineering team to swiftly produce parts and iterate designs, allowing for quicker convergence on viable solutions. This accelerated timeline not only reduces project costs but also enables clients to reach their goals faster.
Adaptability and Quick Response
During the design and development phase, unexpected challenges and design adjustments are common. An in-house machine shop enables an engineering team to readily adapt. Even with careful planning, an external machine shop might miss a critical feature, or maybe an old revision was used for the quote and never updated prior to production. Regardless of the cause, there’s often a few parts in a complicated prototype build that just aren’t right, and if that error occurs during a build just days before an important investor demo, an entire project could be put in jeopardy. An in-house shop enables a team to rework or produce new parts in a matter of hours, resolving the issue and ensuring the demo deadline is met. In the case of earlier stage R&D work, an in-house shop provides possibilities for engineers to fine-tune features to achieve a specific functionality or to create representative prototypes for testing. The accessibility of an in-house shop empowers an engineering team to respond promptly to changing project needs, maintaining continuous progress towards project targets.
Unlocking Iterative Design
At Swope Design Solutions, we believe that the quality of a design is directly proportional to the number of design cycles. 3D printing has become a ubiquitous tool in the prototyping process. It gives engineers the ability to iteratively design products quickly in the early stages of concept development, but it has limitations in the more refined prototyping stages due to available material option properties and low precision. An in-house machine shop with capabilities in addition to 3D printing is the next step up for in-house prototyping, as it unlocks the ability to iteratively design products quickly in real materials with precise features that are representative of the final manufactured product. This accessibility elevates the quality of design and testing that can be performed by an engineering team while accelerating the overall project timeline in a way that wouldn’t be possible with typical external machine shop partners.
While an in-house machine shop has numerous benefits for an engineering team, it is a serious investment. It requires a considerable amount of time and cost for equipment procurement and personnel training, as well as appropriate floor space and infrastructure to house the equipment. For companies that want the benefits of an engineering team with an in-house machine shop at their disposal without investing the time and cost to build their own, partnering with Swope Design Solutions is an excellent alternative. At SDS we view the in-house machine shop as a core part of our company, enhancing the skills and capabilities of our engineers and accelerating our development process. By integrating machine shop operations into our projects, we are able to deliver better products to our clients and make ourselves better design engineers along the way. When clients partner with us, they benefit from a team that not only designs parts but also possesses the expertise to manufacture them while leveraging all aforementioned advantages of an in-house machine shop. If you’re interested in learning more about our shop, please reach out to us with any questions through the Contact page on our website.