Low-volume Manufacturing by CNC Milling


Milling is when a small piece of material is removed from a larger piece. This process can be used to mill small pieces from metal, plastic, wood, or any other solid or semi-solid components.

So, low-volume milling means a small volume of units is milled compared to a typical manufacturing process where millions of pieces of materials are milled until the desired form is achieved. CNC is a process where the creation, modification, optimization, and analysis of a product are directly controlled by a computer (CAD software).

Therefore, Low volume CNC milling is a process where computer software controls the milling of a smaller scale of units. Low-volume CNC milling has so many benefits compared to the standard milling process, which can help you develop your desired product quickly.

What is low-volume manufacturing?

CNC machining is one of the well-known methods in the manufacturing industry, and this method has created great significance in the fabrication and development of a product. There are two variants in CNC machining- High volume and low-volume CNC. Depending on the products and requirements, some industries choose the high volume, and some go for the low one.

Low-volume CNC refers to the case where quantities from 50 to 100,000 parts are manufactured. It is also a quick way to shift from rapid prototyping to mass production.

Manufacturing industries turn to low-volume productions when customized products need quick market launches. Low-volume production methods are for manufacturing and bringing products quickly to the market.

In a word, a great way to test a product’s sufficiency in the market while shortening the manufacturing and modification time of the creation.

What to consider for low-volume manufacturing?

As we know, Low volume manufacturing is a fast production process, but there are some things you need to consider before turning to low-volume manufacturing. These are-

  • Quantity

The most important thing to consider is that a 50-100,000 parts production run is ideal for your product or requirement.

  • Product characteristics

Before considering this method, the materials, complexity of the parts, tolerance, surface finish, and other aspects should be considered. The cost of production would vary depending on the complexity of the product.

Do you need low-volume CNC milling?

Low-volume CNC milling has become a trend in the modern manufacturing industry. This is because it is effortless to use, repeatable and flexible. Just a few changes in the program, and you are suitable for product modification.

You should consider product volume and complexity before turning to the Low-volume CNC milling process. There are some entities or companies that need this process-

  • Startups, small businesses
  • Advertising companies
  • New product launching
  • Architects for prototypes
  • Self-employed personnel

Low-volume CNC metal and plastic:

The usage of CNC machining is increasing every day in the manufacturing industry. The demand for this process has grown significantly in recent times for its efficiency. In this technique, plastic and solid metal parts are used widely for machining.

CNC machining for metal parts

CNC machining has become a reliable way of constructing custom metal parts. It provides the amenity to creating a piece without any mold or support structure.

The setup includes a standard adjustable fixture. If any inconsistency appears, it can be compensated by machine positioning tools.

CNC machining allows the manufacturer to tool any solid metal, from regular steel to different grades of stainless steel that can be modified with high precision and flexibility. Even metal such as titanium alloy which has the worst machinability can be easily tooled with this process.

The most notable use of Low-volume CNC machining are EDM wire cutting and lathe turning. This method is hugely applied in machinery, medicine, automotive, home appliance, aeronautics, transportation, and other industries.

CNC machining for plastic

CNC plastic machining is widely used in various industries because it is fast and agile for constructing plastic prototypes. CNC plastic machining is a “Subtractive” method because there is an option to remove materials. Therefore, CNC plastic machining is favorable for low-volume CNC precision and plastic parts manufacturing.

Due to industrial-grade polymers, CNC plastic prototyping gained popularity. Plastic parts are straightforward to produce, durable, and lightweight. Furthermore, plastic parts are very cheap compared to metal counter-part when it comes to manufacturing costs.

This process is ideal for manufacturing products that need a complex geometrical finish and a smooth surface finish. In addition, plastics can be machined easily with so many high-precision methods such as printing, injection molding, and machining.

But the most apparent advantage of this process is it is a mold-free process. Therefore, it doesn’t need any support structure while constructing parts which is very cost-efficient considering low-volume production.

Custom low-volume CNC machining

CNC machining plays a significant role in the manufacturing of custom-machined parts. CNC machining is very accurate in delivering high-precision parts and intricacy. You can use the same characteristics to maximize the setup and low turnover, even for low-volume production. It allows the designer to improve and modify the initial design with iteration and improve the component production.

Another convincing part of CNC machining is its high-efficiency rate that affects consumers and manufacturers. Moreover, it creates so little waste compared to other additive manufacturing processes and is high-precision. Also, it doesn’t need extra material for support structure or other unnecessary things, thus preventing unwanted costs.

Nowadays, industries are turning to CNC machining for product manufacture and modification. The shift is because it provides so much versatility and flexibility to the manufacturers. Moreover, it is easy to get your customer pleased with the manufactured, machined parts with this process.

Major benefits of low-volume CNC machining

There are certain advantages a manufacturer will get while using Low-volume CNC production. Those are:

  • It allows the designer quick design iteration after the first trial. The flexibility allows the designer to get the best applicability from a test product. You can validate your design and check for faults in the product any time you want with a bit of change in the program.
  • If you want your product to launch quickly and occupy the market before your competitors, then this is the method you need right now. You will stay ahead of the competition when the buyer knows about your product earlier.
  • As we stated earlier, low-volume manufacturing limits materials usage and makes it more cost-efficient. This process doesn’t need any investment in expensive tools and devices. So, if you are on a tight budget, you can go for low-volume production for your product development.
  • It closes the gap between rapid prototyping and full-scale production. If your products are good enough, you can get steady orders and go on a long-term partnership with clients. You can find problems and solve them without disturbing your mass production plan.
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