Taking the long view on cost-effectiveness
Drake routinely develops machined prototypes from our vast range of stock shapes for application testing and validation before parts go into full production. Once performance has been proven, we get busy with the customer to ‘lean out’ the economics by defining the optimum production method based on the part attributes and quantity required. Options include machining the part from the most efficient stock shape size, injection molding a near-net shape then finish-machining to part dimensions or going directly to injection molding with the option to finish machine certain features.
For example, these high voltage connectors were originally 5-axis machined from glass- reinforced KetaSpire KT820 GF30 PEEK Rod. The OEM refined both the material selected and the design three times to optimize electrical performance and assembly fit. Prototype parts machined by Drake from the third iteration were field tested and validated. Based on the cost of machining rod into parts with exceptionally tight tolerances, the quantity of several hundred per year and the anticipated long production life of the product, the decision was then taken to invest in tooling and transition the parts from machining to injection molding.
Customers have come to appreciate Drake’s initiative in recommending more cost-effective parts production opportunities when their machined unit quantities reach appropriate levels.