What Are the Main Types of Manufacturing Processes?
There is a wide range of manufacturing processes available, and it’s good to have a basic understanding of at least some of them to help determine which option is best for your application’s requirements. The primary manufacturing processes Schmit Prototypes offers are 3D printing, urethane casting, CNC machining and injection molding.
Get an overview of each manufacturing process with the simple guide below to see which option may be best for bringing your application to the finish line.
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, took off in the 1980s and it has since burst in popularity as the technology improves while prices fall. The premise is that 3D-printable models can be produced using a computer-aided design (CAD) with a scanner. Part of the appeal in using this technology is it’s easy to identify mistakes before physically printing items, which is great for saving time and money. 3D printers are also capable of producing complex shapes and parts that would otherwise be difficult to create.
Our 3D printing service is called “rapid” for a reason. We can take data and convert it into a physical model in short periods of time. In addition to rapid turnaround, our 3D printers are adaptable and versatile, allowing us the ability to print using a wide range of materials. Put it all together and we can produce prototypes with tight tolerances that are extremely accurate on a modest budget.
Depending on your needs, we offer stereolithography (SLA), fused deposition modeling (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS), and polyjet 3D printing. Consult our project managers for help determining which method works best for your application.
If you want to produce rubber or plastic components without hard tooling costs, urethane casting is a great option. An alternative to injection molding, urethane casting creates a silicone mold using a master pattern, which comes from 3D printing. Urethane casting is ideal for one-off projects, and it’s also suitable for low-volume production runs, producing visual models, and product testing. Part of what makes this manufacturing process so effective is the molding materials are versatile, and can include various shapes and sizes.
Computerized numerical control (CNC) machining requires software and language — known as G or M code — to guide an automated, computerized manufacturing process. Mechanical dimensions are provided to the machine using CAD software, which is then translated into directives for manufacturing. These motorized manufacturing tools are capable of working with plastic, metal, wood, and other materials, and they can create items that can come close to matching the final appearance of most products.
At Schmit Prototypes, we offer CNC milling, turning, and electrical discharge machining to produce highly accurate parts and engineering prototypes. Contact us to learn about our CNC machining capabilities.
There’s some nuance when it comes to injection molding methods, which seems reasonable given injection molding is a manufacturing technique that’s now more than 150 years old. However, injection molding machines have this in common: they each consist of an injection unit, a mold, and a clamp.
Our manufacturing process for injection molding begins with plastic material being forced into a mold cavity where, under pressure, pelletized resins and colorants are fed into either a Nissei or Nestal machine. At that time, the resins and colorants are added into an injection barrel to be heated for melting. The material is then forced into a mold cavity for cooling and eventual removal from the cavity, leaving a completed prototype.
Full-Service Prototype Manufacturing
Have questions or concerns about manufacturing your prototype? Let’s connect. For over 40 years, our experts have provided comprehensive manufacturing services and superior customer service. A project manager will meet with you to determine the full scope of your project and identify the perfect service to meet your application’s requirements.