Exploring Low-Volume Manufacturing: Advantages and More

In the recent past, low-volume manufacturing has become quite popular. Many industries adopted this method in their quest to cut costs and save time. A China supplier often considers low volume production. It lets him produce quality products in a time and cost-effective way. So the question is – what is low volume production? What advantages does it bring? How can you find a good low-volume manufacturer? Continue reading and find answers to these concerns.

What is low-volume manufacturing?

It means the production of niche or custom products in small volumes. Low volume production could be expensive if the manufacturers use traditional methods. That’s because the production cost divides between every part produced. The traditional methods have operational expenses like labor, tooling, and materials. But, low-volume production is different. It has lower costs because it is a hybrid kind of approach. It incorporates additive manufacturing on top of the conventional methods. You can consider using various low-volume production processes depending on your needs.

Injection Molding

The first production process on our list is injection molding. This technology begins with the production of a custom mold, for example, a silicone mold. The manufacturers first create a mold depending on the given details. The selected material then gets heated to become a liquid. This liquid goes into the cavity of the custom mold where it cools. After cooling, the mold expels it. After that, the machine resets to repeat the same process. There are many benefits of this technology to low volume production. It is durable, repeatable, scalable, and weather-resistant.

CNC Machining

CNC is the short form for Computer Numerical Control machining. This technology involves directing the tools and factory machinery by pre-programmed software. CNC machining technology can control diverse yet complex machinery. Examples of such machinery are routers, lathes, mills, and grinders. CNC machining doesn’t need live operators for pushing wheels, levers, or buttons. It works like a robot. Its advantages in low volume production are many. Besides being accurate, it is scalable and repeatable with a quicker turnaround. Be it a single product or mass production!

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

This method involves rapid prototyping, i.e., building a part in continuous layers. First, a designer uses CAD software to create a blueprint. This software continues to make the design in successive layers. While building these layers, it also makes instructions for the additive machine. After this, the manufacturer feeds the machine with the design. This method is much suitable for producing low-volume products at a reasonable cost.

Advantages of Low-Volume Manufacturing

Low-volume production comes with many advantages that include:

Saving Money

It allows companies to produce and deliver products in time. Their innovation channel remains open. That’s because they use different technologies to produce small volumes. They create niche products in small volumes with suitable materials and designs. As a result, they incur low overhead production costs.

Design Flexibility

Low volume production is flexible. It allows faster design changes according to customer feedback. Thus, you can gather feedback from customers. Afterward, you can make changes without affecting the final product.

Fast Marketing

Marketing is essential when maintaining high-quality and affordable products. But, this is impossible with high-volume production processes. As the emerging markets remain competitive, it is wise to be careful. Low volume production services help you surpass competitors with better products at reduced costs.

Full-scale production

It gives you rapid access to products. This technology provides a route for full and small-batch production. The volume increases evenly, and you can meet the demands of consumers. In the end, you’ll be shifting to full-scale production.

How to distinguish a good low-volume manufacturer?

As you know, every low-volume production company is different. Thus, it will help if you consider each of them separately. Analyze it according to your product and market. Here are essential factors to consider:

Quantity

How many parts do you intend to produce? Do you need a prototype with an excellent surface finish? A low-volume supplier should help you make a few high-quality parts or thousands of them. The manufacturer should have a team of engineers to handle low and mass production.

Material Options

Material is another crucial factor to consider when searching for a low-volume manufacturer. Keep in mind that you have a variety of raw materials to choose from with low volume production. As such, know whether the company you are considering is open to all those material options. Also, ensure the manufacturer uses the low volumes manufacturing technology that can meet your production demand.

Complexity

Consider your part as well. How complex is it? It will determine the expense and the complexity of the entire process. Make sure you settle for a manufacturer who can handle your part and its complexity. He should do this at a reasonable cost and give you the best solution.

Response

The manufacturer should respond quickly to your queries. You can check his ability to answer your doubts. It would help you at the time of shifting to mass production. The manufacturer or his engineers should come up with solutions to problems. Knowledge of the supply chain would be a bonus.

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FAQs

1. What Is Low Volume High Mix Manufacturing?

It is a process of producing various products in small quantities. It is also known as make-to-order production. This method is suitable when producing more complex products. These are unique products with specific quality requirements.

2. Which Layout Is Useful for Low Volume Production?

There are five categories of plant layouts. These are process layout, fixed-position layout, product layout, group layout, and combination layout. Among all these, the process layout is helpful for low quantity production.

3. Which Industries Use Low-Volume Production?

Many industries use low-volume production. These industries include: Robotics, Automotive, Industrial, Aerospace, Medical, Dental, Electronics, Consumer products, Education, and Energy.

4. Is Small Batches Manufacturing Process Popular?

In recent years, low-volume production has grown in reputation. There are other traditional methods like plastic injection molding. These are great for high-volume parts kind of projects. But low volume production method is flexible, less time-consuming, and money-saving. It offers faster marketing and also allows full-scale production with less tooling.

5. Low-Volume vs. High Volume Production – Which Is Better?

Both methods are suitable in their own ways. Yet, small volume production is better in many ways. You can use it to launch your products to the market quickly. You can also switch to large production sooner. Even so, high-volume manufacturing, i.e., rapid manufacturing, is better for production costs.

Final thoughts

Low volume production brings a significant impact with time. The demand for this technology continues to rise every moment. A manufacturer gets shorter product life cycles with reduced tooling costs. Nowadays, companies use different low-volume manufacturing strategies before moving to mass production. They choose the prototype and mass production strategy. In this, companies create a prototype of a certain product in low quantities to ensure quality. The incredible benefits of low volume production make it a reliable technique. Besides, it is affordable and efficient. Thus, you should get a good low-volume manufacturer for the next project!

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