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Frequently asked questions about low volume manufacturing

We’re often asked for more information about our low volume manufacturing and engineering services for companies in the space, science and associated high technology sectors.  The following sections answer some of the most commonly asked questions.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or would like more details then please get in touch. 

Low Volume Manufacturing

We specialise in low volume manufacturing for customers in the high technology industries.  But what do we mean by ‘low volume manufacturing’? 

The phrase ‘low volume manufacturing’ will mean different things to different engineers.

For most precision engineering companies, low volume manufacture generally relates to a production stage between the development of prototype parts and the output of high volumes of components, which are typically numbered in thousands or more. The production of small numbers of parts is generally undertaken to ensure that quality, performance and functionality are as expected, or to support the initial launch of a new product before demands begins to increase.

At Frazer-Nash, we take the definition of low volume manufacturing literally. Indeed, to us, ‘low volume’ can range from a single finished part to perhaps five, ten or twenty components in each batch.

Our engineering and quality inspection processes, CNC machining capability and additive manufacturing systems are therefore configured specifically to meet the demands of customers looking for the production of a small number of unique precision engineered parts.

This requires a different approach and mindset to that normally employed in higher volume manufacturing operations. In particular, it means that we work far more collaboratively with each customer, to ensure that every part we produce is ‘right first time’.

We therefore provide advice on the best approach to design for manufacture and on factors such as the most appropriate materials to achieve the required outcome; many of the materials specified by our customers can be difficult to machine and demand careful planning and setup to ensure we achieve the optimum tolerances and finish.

We also provide a range of value-added services, such as detailed inspection facilities, complete with detailed reports and full traceability to comply with customers’ internal quality processes. This can be crucial to our customers in the scientific and space sectors, with the parts that we engineer being used in, for example, critical satellite or cyclotron applications, where component failure is not an option.

Many precision engineering companies offering to manufacture in low volume also claim to offer fast turnaround. This is to help their customers reduce the time required for product development, prototyping and time to market. Their expectation is that once product demand increases they will be able to move to high volume production, which is generally where they make most of their revenue.

Although there is nothing wrong with this business model, it’s not one that to which we subscribe.

We only engineer precision components and assemblies in small volumes – typically less than ten units. This is because the scientific and space markets in which we specialise have specific needs; often these can be for a single part manufactured to extreme tolerances in a material that has to perform under the most challenging conditions.

In general, although delivery schedules are always important, the focus for each order is on quality, functionality and performance. There is rarely room for compromise as the parts that we manufacture are often used in applications where 100% reliability is critical; these can range from optical instrumentation used in satellites to particle physics detectors used in the Large Hydron Collider.

Over the years, we’ve developed a unique combination of precision engineering facilities, based around the latest Mazak and Fanuc CNC technologies, and advanced inspection systems, backed by over a century of engineering knowledge and experience.

This means that we can respond quickly to new enquiries and then provide a smooth and highly effective low volume precision engineering service that meets customers’ exact specification, for both quality and lead-times.

Get in touch

Contact Frazer-Nash Manufacturing for a discussion of your specific requirements. 

Call us on +44 (0)1730 230 340 or submit your enquiry using this form to request a call back.

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