Diversify Network of Vendors| Mitigate Supply Chain Risk

Diversify Network of Vendors| Mitigate Supply Chain Risk

Are Legacy Vendors Invested In Your Success?
If Not, You Could Be Vulnerable to Risk.

As the technologies that drive manufacturing continue to advance, processes like rapid prototyping are becoming more mainstream and in demand.

To meet this demand, the vendor pool is increasing—and their platforms are evolving to make quoting projects faster and easier than ever.

This seems ideal for companies eager to bring products to market fast. Afterall, having more options to choose from can help you to secure the competitive edge.

But more isn’t better.

In fact, having too many vendors to choose from can lead to analysis paralysis—or “vendor paralysis,” which can introduce elements of risk to the supply chain, business, project, and even your ability to deliver on personal goals.

Of course, this may prompt you to rely more heavily on legacy vendors. But what if they shut down due to any number of business disruptions? How will they deliver your parts? Do they have measures in place to protect your supply in any market?

Solution: Build a diverse network of trusted vendors invested in your success.

To help mitigate risk throughout the product development process, and to your supply chain, build a diverse network of trusted partners based in the USA. A team that functions as an extension of your business with invested interest in helping you to succeed.

Too many options can result in “vendor paralysis.”

Vendor Paralysis and Legacy Vendors: Elements of Risk

A key solution for mitigating risk is to diversify your vendor network. However, this is difficult to accomplish when you have too many to choose from or rely too heavily on legacy vendors.

Vendor paralysis

Forbes defines analysis paralysis as the moments when someone is so overwhelmed with choices that they are unable to make a decision. Vendor paralysis can be defined in the same vein. That is, as the vendor pool continues to increase, the more difficult it becomes to choose one.

For example, indecisiveness will prevent projects from moving forward in the product development process. Which, as you can imagine, will lead to product launch delays, added costs, and missed market opportunity. Further, vendor paralysis can also result in an overreliance on legacy vendors.

3-quote Solution: Getting Quotes vs. Vetting Partners

So how can organizations solve for this indecisiveness? Based on conversations with engineers, purchasing, and sourcing, companies are requiring employees to get 3 competitive quotes for every job.

But getting 3 quotes is different than vetting 3 partners invested in your success.

Though implemented with good intentions, it is a transactional solution. One that does not require vetting a vendor’s capabilities, having conversations around them, ensuring they are accurate and meet the needs of the project.

Ultimately, instead of advancing toward a more diverse network of trusted partners, the 3-quote solution still results in relying too heavily on a select few vendors which can greatly increase risk.

Legacy Vendors

We appreciate the value of legacy relationships. They are safe, comfortable, and reliable. And when faced with aggressive deadlines to bring products to market, it can feel faster and easier to rely on what you know.

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed painful weaknesses in our supply chains. And, after 2020, it’s a lot harder to say, “that could never happen.”

Unexpected Problems & What They Mean To Your Supply Chain

Now, more than ever, it’s clear that any type of disruption can introduce elements of risk to your business: tariffs, pandemics, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, military uprisings, a death in the family, personal emergency, and human error.

The question, then, is how will your legacy vendors keep your business flowing if their business shuts down due events out of their control? Without a backup plan, how will you get your parts?

Now consider the bigger picture. If your legacy vendors cannot sustain your supply, it could result in missing the chance to bring products to market and failure to secure the competitive edge.

You could also lose your biggest customer who pays your bills, forcing you to lay off employees or close business altogether.

Diversify Your Network of Trusted Partners To Help Mitigate Risk

A diverse network of fully vetted partners can help to mitigate risk to the supply chain, keep a small business from closing, and reduce personal risk.

Further, a network of partners—truly invested in your success –  can save time and money, provide higher acceptance rate on parts, provide better transparency on timelines and updates, and enable you to re-establish relationships with previous customers due to better capabilities.

To achieve success, choose US-based suppliers, don’t rely on “what’s always been done” as a litmus test. Further, insist on communication and collaboration between your internal teams and vendors.

Choose 4 USA-based Vendors Per Manufacturing Process

Vetting domestic vendors for manufacturing processes such as injection molding and 3D printing will provide advantages such as shorter logistics and real-time visibility into their manufacturing process.

Building a network that includes 4 vendors for each manufacturing process will help mitigate risk by ensuring you have a backup if there is an unexpected event.

Further, diversifying your network to include partners with different production capabilities can help add flexibility.

Choose 4 domestic vendors for each manufacturing process.

Use a New Litmus Test To Vet Vendors

When vetting new vendors, resist the urge to rely on past experiences as a measure of success. One of the critical goals of this process is to diversify your network beyond your current relationships to help mitigate risk and stimulate innovation. Otherwise you will continue on the same path.

Communication & Collaboration Between Internal Teams and Vendors

Break Down Silos To Help Reduce Mistakes

Too often, hard work by many is derailed or overlooked because of one missing piece resulting in a variety of mistakes. Promoting communication and collaboration between vendors and your internal teams can increase transparency and reduce errors.

For instance, typically internal groups (engineers, product designers, purchasing, etc.) are siloed and miss critical communications. Thereby resulting in errors such as quantity requirements, turnaround time, and invoicing.

These mistakes can prevent you from getting the parts you need when you need them. And when teams work together, simple mistakes that could otherwise lead to larger ramifications can be eliminated.

Invest time in the Partnerships

Develop genuine relationships with vendors and stay plugged in with your partner representatives.

This helps to ensure you always know if something may prevent getting accurate parts on time.

Having up-to-date information at all times from your partners will help to proactively mitigate risk and adjust internal planning versus scrambling to fix a problem.

Conclusion

Vendor paralysis and relying too heavily on legacy vendor relationships can make you and your business vulnerable to risk.

Building a diverse network of trusted, domestic partners that are vetted for each manufacturing specialty can help to mitigate risk to the supply chain and maintain the flow of business in any market climate.

If you would like to discuss strategies for diversifying your vendor network, please contact Xcentric. We would love to be part of your success story. Contact our Application Engineers at sales@xcentricmold.com or 586-598-4636.

Working on a project?

Let us help you get that first prototype underway and have that part in your hands in as few as five days. Our engineers help you through the design process. Get your project started now!

Custom Injection Molding Company For Your Design

Custom Injection Molding Company For Your Design

Choose An Agile Injection Molding Company, Bring YOUR Designs to Market, Faster than Ever

In a world accustom to instant gratification, the urgency for rapid manufacturers to help customers bring plastic injection-molded products to market faster and cheaper is more competitive than ever.

There’s no question about it—speed is critical. But so is achieving your design intent.

Otherwise, “faster and cheaper” loses its appeal.

Like most product designers and engineers, you don’t just want plastic parts fast. You want your custom injection-molded products produced to exact requirements. On time and on budget.

However, when speed is the singular focus, your design intent becomes an afterthought. This is perhaps most evident in a transaction-based approach to plastic injection molding projects.

Pitfalls of a transaction-based plastic injection molding company

According to an adage, in business we are fortunate if we can choose any two of the following: speed, quality, or value.

When it comes to plastic injection molding, this model fails to deliver. In part, because it lacks investment in your overall success.

The goal is to get products to market as quickly as possible. Period. Therefore, customers are often asked to change their designs to fit a process. Which can result in:

  • Compromising the quality of material 
  • Changing the design to accommodate pre-defined requirements
  • Skipping quality control steps in the product development process

 

As you can imagine, compromising in these critical areas can result in:

  • Poor functionality and missed design intent
  • Reduced part integrity
  • Expensive product recalls

This lack of customer focus has prompted a growing demand for more personalized service and support.

Relationship-based, custom injection molding company. Your design, on time and on budget

The customer experience with Xcentric is different. It is a personalized and highly collaborative relationship. One that enables us to understand goals and achieve design intent.

When you partner with Xcentric for rapid manufacturing, you’ll work directly with our on-site SMEs. And you’ll have access to our high-performance manufacturing services and facilities

An agile process to achieve your intended fit, form, and function

We do not force designs to fit predefined parameters. We collaborate with customers and their internal teams to fully understand the scope of the project.

Often, the competition only meets with customers at the prototype stage. In contrast, Xcentric gets involved early in the product development process. And then we place an SME at every step from concept through production.

This transparency and early involvement in the product development process enables us to:

  • Optimize designs for manufacturability
  • Provide advice on material selection
  • Mitigate risk – during product development and in the supply chain
  • Eliminate unnecessary costs
  • Reduce product launch delays

As a result, our customer-first approach helps us to achieve design intent while maintaining quality, speed, and cost-efficiency.

First, we provide an amazing customer experience. Second, our team gets involved early in the product development process. And finally, we place on-site SMEs at every step from concept to delvery.

Xcentric: your injection molding company

In conclusion, don’t compromise your design intent. Partner with an agile injection molding company to:

  • Optimize designs for manufacturability
  • Bring products to market on time and on budget
  • Mitigate supply chain risk
  • Stay current with ongoing touch points to provide design resources and design tips

We would like the opportunity to earn your trust as an approved vendor for rapid manufacturing. Please consider Xcentric when quoting your next project. Get us invovled early so we can help reduce risk and bring products to market fast. 

Contact an Xcentric Application Engineer at 248-598-4636 or sales@xcentricmold.com.  You can also upload a part to request a custom quote. 

Working on a project?

Let us help you get that first prototype underway and have that part in your hands in as few as five days. Our engineers help you through the design process. Get your project started now!

Xcentric: Approved Vendor for Rapid Manufacturing

Xcentric: Approved Vendor for Rapid Manufacturing

10 Reasons to Add Xcentric as an Approved Vendor for Rapid Manufacturing

Instead of choosing the same three vendors for your next quote, give Xcentric a try! We’re the #2 rapid manufacturing company in the USA. And we’d like the opportunity to earn your trust for rapid manufacturing services.

Here are 10 reasons to consider Xcentric for plastic injection molding, CNC machining, and 3D printing.

1. We achieve your design intent – Practically no Geometry Limits

We will not force your design to fit our process.

Like most product designers and engineers, you don’t just want plastic parts fast. Instead, you want your custom plastic injection-molded products produced to exact requirements, on time and on budget.

Xcentric is not a transactional plastic injection molding company. We take a relationship-based approach to fully understand your expectations. This enables us to determine the most cost- and time-efficient method for achieving your design intent. We will never force your design to fit our process.

As your preferred vendor for rapid manufacturing, we’ll collaborate with you, your team, and third-party vendors you are working with to bring your concepts to life.

The first job was fast, accurate and met all of our expectations enabling us to go to market on time!

Gordon Sturm

Director, Operations, Mirion Technologies

2. Domestic vendor for plastic injection molding

Made and located entirely in the USA, Since 1997

The pandemic of 2020 exposed the fragility of the global supply chain. It showed us the risk of relying too heavily on overseas vendors. And it left businesses scrambling to find domestic suppliers with capacity to help keep their doors open.

 

Two Michigan-based facilities for plastic injection molding

Building a sustainable supply chain for rapid manufacturing is more important than ever. Adding a domestic vendor like Xcentric can help mitigate the risk of unexpected events.

Xcentric is headquartered in Clinton Township, Michigan with a second facility in Shelby Township, Michigan.

Supply Chain: More Sustainable & Agile After COVID-19

To build a sustainable supply chain, manufacturers should include these three essential components in their plan. READ MORE

3. Rapid Manufacturing, Rapid Results

A fast, cost-effective, and agile vendor

Xcentric has earned a reputation as a trusted supplier of time-critical rapid manufacturing. We are one of the fastest suppliers of  complex, custom injection-molded parts delivering prototypes in as few as 5 days and standard projects in as few as 13. We owe this speed-to-market to our amazing team of subject matter experts, modern systems, and streamlined processes.

4. Capacity: We Quickly Scale Production to meet unpredicatable demand

Post-COVID-19 we are faced with uncertainties in the market. Rapid digital manufacturing enables us to quickly scale production to help you build a more sustainable supply chain and meet market demand with prototype, bridge, and production tooling.

Your link to the global supply chain

  • Reduce time to market
  • Labor overhead and asset utilization
  • Increase quality control and inventory management

5. Product Development Process and On-Site Subject Matter Experts

Xcentric is powered by an amazing team of subject matter experts (SMEs) with experience in engineering, design consultation, mold-making, and customer service.

We follow a streamlined product development process and place on-site SMEs at every step of the process. SMEs review designs and provide a manufacturability analysis for each order.

6. Custom Quote in less then 24 hours

A Tool Built For Designers

Our new quoting tool simplifies the design and iteration process to get your product to market. On time. On budget. Right here at home. Simply upload a CAD file to get started. Our guided design tool will help you quote your project and move forward in the design process. Check out the online quote tool!

7. Plastic Material Selection

Material selection is critical to the success of your injection molding project. We carry more than 40 resins in stock. And, our on-site material experts will assist you with sourcing non-stock material, custom colors, and specialty plastics.

FREE 8-Piece Sample Kit

Choosing the optimal surface finish for your material is critical when designing plastic parts for injection molding. Our 8-piece surface finish plaques can help you to make more informed decisions early in the process.

Yes! Send My Free Samples!

8. Custom Plastic Parts in as few as 5 days

Xcentric Process Engine

As a preferred vendor, you’ll benefit from Xcentric’s proprietary process engine. The process engine is an expert software system that predicts the appropriate process parameters for each project. These parameters are based on years of process data and collective team experience. It is our scientrific approach to the injection molding process that helps to differentiate us in the marketplace.

9. Design Resource Center for plastic injection molding

Our Design Resource Center provides easy access to our full library of design guides. Now you can leverage our decades of experience to optimize your plastic part designs.

Each guide provides expert advice, tips, and best practices to help keep projects on track for budget, time, and performance.

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10. Lifetime Guarantee on all molds and certifications

At Xcentric, you own the mold – and Xcentric will maintain it for as long as you need parts. We are proud to be your one-stop supplier for plastic injection molding. We are here to meet your production needs – whether you need prototype, bridge, or production parts.

Certifications

Xcentric also holds industry certifications that include:

ISO 9001: 2015, ITAR/UL

Add Xcentric as an approved vendor for rapid manufacturing

Mitigate supply chian risk and bring products to market faster than ever!

We are the #2 rapid manufacturing company located in the USA. Please consider requesting a custom quote from Xcentric for your next project. Our team is eager to learn about your projects and start a conversation about how we can help bring your concepts to life faster than ever.

To get started, please request a custom quote or reach out to one of our Account Executives at sales@xcentricmold.com or 586-598-4636.

Aluminum Molds Vs. Steel Molds | Plastic Injection Molding

Aluminum Molds Vs. Steel Molds | Plastic Injection Molding

Aluminum Molds vs. Steel Molds: Five Critical Points of Comparison for Product Designers and Engineers 

Choosing between steel and aluminum tooling is a critical decision for product designers. This is because the tool impacts part quality, cycle time, cost, and even time-to-market.

Therefore, understanding how each material will perform during the injection molding process will help you to make more informed decisions—for today and future needs.

In this blog we provide a critical comparison between P20 Steel and QC-10 Aluminum for five key areas:

  • USA vs China: Where you quote tooling impacts the cost/time to create and change molds
  • Tool life comparison: how many parts can be produced with steel vs. aluminum molds?
  • Thermal conductivity and the ability to control the temperature of each mold type can influence fill, form, and cycle time
  • Part size and complexity by mold type
  • Material and surface finish options for aluminum and steel

Where you quote tooling matters: USA vs. China

Deciding between an overseas and domestic supplier for tooling can influence your entire injection molding project—from supply chain management and production cost to the time it takes to build and change your mold.

For one, vast discrepancies in material cost between the USA and other countries, notably for this discussion, between aluminum and steel as raw material.*

 

In the USA, for example, aluminum is the default material used to create molds because it is cheaper than steel. Conversely, in China raw steel is used as the default material because it is cheaper than aluminum. One country uses a soft material while the other uses a hard material.

Therefore, if you quote tooling in different locations, chances are you will not be looking at an apples-to-apples comparison. This is because soft and hard materials perform differently during the injection molding process. Which can impact cycle time, cost, and time-to-market.

Cost and time to create or change steel molds vs. aluminum molds

When quoting tooling there are two critical costs to consider. First, the initial cost to create the mold. And second, the cost to make changes to the mold. Below is a comparison of cost and time for steel vs. aluminum tooling.

 

Cost  to create or change steel molds vs. aluminum molds

The cost to create an aluminum mold is about ¼ to ½ the cost of creating a steel mold. In general, aluminum tooling will prove to be the most cost-effective option even when comparing a quote from a China-based vendor for steel tooling to a USA aluminum quote.

The type of mold you choose can also impact the cost of making changes. For example, aluminum tooling is roughly 1/10 of changing a steel tool—regardless of where it is manufactured. This is because it takes much longer and is harder to machine steel versus aluminum.

Time to create or change steel molds vs. aluminum molds 

The time required to create an aluminum tool, on average, is about 15-25 business days. In contrast, the average time required to create a steel tool is about 35-60 business days.

On average, the time required to change an aluminum tool is about 5 business days. Compared to an average of 20 business days required to change a steel tool. 

What is the tool life of P20 Steel Tooling vs. QC-10 Aluminum Tooling?

(And how much volume can I produce with each tool before investing more money to keep it running?)

The time required to create an aluminum tool, on average, is about 15-25 business days. In contrast, the average time required to create a steel tool is about 35-60 business days.

On average, the time required to change an aluminum tool is about 5 business days. Compared to an average of 20 business days required to change a steel tool. 

Please note, the estimated volume for steel and aluminum molds will depend on material selection for use during the injection molding process:

  • P20 Steel tooling, average life of 50,000-100,000 parts
  • QC-10 Aluminum tooling, average life of 10,000-25,000 parts

According to Taylor Foster, Account Executive at Xcentric, quantity often determines whether to choose steel or aluminum tooling.

“Simply put, steel tooling will always offer a longer tool life than aluminum tooling,” Taylor said. “This means, it can produce a higher volume of parts before the mold requires maintenance due to wear and tear, or total replacement.”

Therefore, if you are going to need hundreds of thousands—or millions of parts in a year, steel tooling is likely going to be the best option.

Alternatively, Taylor said “if you do not anticipate this level of production volume, and instead plan to stay in the 10s of thousands over the next year or so, then aluminum will be the best option.”

Aluminum Molds vs. Steel Molds: A Comparison

Video Presentation - Featuring Taylor Foster, Account Executive at Xcentric

When moving parts to production, product designers are faced with a choice: steel or aluminum tooling? Watch the webinar to learn common misconceptions between the two along with a side-by-side comparison that will help you to make more informed decisions. 

WATCH NOW

Thermal Conductivity of Aluminum is 5 times greater than Steel

Thermal conductivity is a material’s intrinsic ability to transfer heat. The thermal conductivity of aluminum is about five times greater than steel. This is important because it directly impacts the fill, flow, and cycle time of aluminum molds.

Fill, flow, and cycle time: benefits of aluminum molds

  • Material fills the mold faster and more evenly than steel molds
  • Plastic can flow longer distances with less injection pressure in aluminum
  • Cycle time is less due to quicker heating and cooling, meaning faster creation of your parts using aluminum molds
  • Parts have minimal warp and much better dimensional stability – giving a higher acceptance rate on parts

Aluminum molds’ superior thermal control can reduce cycle time up to 40%

In an article published in Moldmaking Technology1, Douglas Bryce provides details about an IBM tooling study of aluminum molds for high-volume production. The five-year study used identical steel and aluminum molds to produce identical plastic parts.

According to the study, the aluminum molds cost up to 50% less to build than steel molds and produced higher-quality parts. Further, the aluminum molds’ superior thermal control made it easier to manipulate areas of the tooling which resulted in cycle times up to 25-40% less than the steel molds.

Achieve better temperature control with aluminum molds, reduce cost and cycle time

Controlling the temperature of a mold is often a challenge because it depends on variables such as the material, design, ejection process, and other issues within the tool.

Still, achieving better temperature control can help to optimize cost and reduce cycle time. This has been tested and proven in studies like the one featured in Flow Front by Claudia Zironi2. (Table 1)

QC-10 Aluminum vs. P20 Steel; Polystyrene vs. Nylon

In this study, Claudia Zironi conducted a side-by-side comparison of two materials, polystyrene and nylon, being injected into a QC-10 aluminum mold and a P20 steel mold.

Both materials were run in the same process to showcase a completed part within the same spiral tool design. When completed, the overall cycle time for QC-10 Aluminum was much faster than that of the P20 Steel.

Per the study, the P20 steel molds retain more temperature during the molding process than the QC-10 aluminum molds.

Also, recovery after each shot does not come down as fast as the temperature in aluminum tooling. This is because thermal temperature releases out of aluminum faster than steel. Because of this, there was a 20-second freeze time in the P20 steel to ensure the part was cooled for ejection.

Table 1 Claudia Zironi, Flowfront Magazine, “Competitive Advantages of Aluminum Molds for Injection Molding Applications: Process Simulation Used to Evaluate Cycle Times,” April 2005.

Part size and complexity by mold type

Based on the data discussed so far, aluminum has more to offer than prototyping and low-volume production. Though it is softer than steel, aluminum molds can be a cost- and time-efficient option for high-volume production and larger parts.

Of course, there are applications where a steel mold would be a more optimal choice.

Will the type of tooling limit material selection, surface finish, or secondary operations? 

Choosing aluminum tooling instead of steel tooling will not drastically—if at all, compromise your options for material, finish, or secondary operations. Here is a brief overview when comparing P20 steel and QC-10 Aluminum tooling.

Plastic Material Selection

In general, you can expect the same material options for both steel and aluminum tooling. Please note two exceptions where steel tooling is likely to be the best option due to wear and tear:

  •  Exotic materials like Ultem which requires very high heat
  • Abrasive material such as glass fill or other ad

For more detailed information about materials, visit Xcentric’s plastic material selection guide.

Surface finish options

Whether using steel or aluminum, your options for surface finish will be the same. Please note, to achieve an SPI A-1 finish, you need special facilities and/or equipment.

Also, Finish and clarity are reliant on the material you choose; some materials are not capable of achieving an optically clear finish no matter the level of polish used.

FREE 8-Piece Sample Kit

Choosing the optimal surface finish for your material is critical when designing plastic parts for injection molding. Our 8-piece surface finish plaques can help you to make more informed decisions early in the process.

Yes! Send My Free Samples!

Aluminum molds advantage: flow and fill rates

Aluminum molds demonstrate better thermal conductivity, flow rate, and fill advantages over steel molds. Which makes aluminum a better option when you are producing long, large parts.

Also, considering the superior temperature control, aluminum is a better option for part designs with complex geometries that could cause fill issues.

Steel molds advantage: thin walls and complex features

In contrast to aluminum, steel tooling proves to be a more effective for injection-molded parts and tooling that require extremely thin walls. This is because of the increased hardness of the mold material. The thin features and areas in the tool will hold up much better to the pressure during the molding process when using steel.

Conclusion: Steel Molds vs. Aluminum Molds

In conclusion, aluminum molds provide value beyond prototyping. Instead of choosing steel molds for high-volume production, consider aluminum molds instead. They prove to be a cost- and time-effective solution for plastic injection molding.

Xcentric is located entirely in the USA with two production facilities in Michigan. Though we specialize in aluminum tooling, we also offer steel tooling. Our on-site material experts are eager to help you make the most informed decision for your next injection molding project. Please contact an Xcentric Application Engineer with questions or concerns. We are here to help bring your concept to market on time and on budget.

Taylor Foster is an Account Executive at Xcentric. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and Business, attended the University of Kentucky, and has been working in the manufacturing industry, specializing in injection molding consultation and education as well as customer experience for the past 2 years. Get connected on LinkedIn with Taylor Foster

Working on a project?

Let us help you get that first prototype underway and have that part in your hands in as few as five days. Our engineers help you through the design process. Get your project started now!

References

  1. Douglas Bryce, Moldmaking Technology, “Why Offer Aluminum Molds for Production”, April 2002
  2. Claudia Zironi, Flowfront Magazine, “Competitive Advantages of Aluminum Molds for Injection Molding Applications: Process Simulation Used to Evaluate Cycle Times”, April 2005

* While steel as a raw material is cheaper than aluminum in both geographies, several other factors including market share, labor, and production costs must be factored into the material of choice in each country.

Digital Manufacturing | Robust Supply Chain

Digital Manufacturing | Robust Supply Chain

Rapid Digital Manufacturing: Linking Plastic Injection Molding To The Global Supply Chain

Digital manufacturing is critical for achieving one of the post-pandemic goals: a robust and sustainable supply chain. One that can maintain the flow of business in any global climate.

This is because it links all areas of production. Digital manufacturing uses technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and Machine Learning (ML) to connect services, supply chains, products, and processes.

In doing so, it provides greater visibility into the entire supply chain. And this level of insight helps companies to identify (and predict) potential kinks in the supply chain.

Essentially, smarter manufacturing.

And now, as we emerge from a global pandemic that exposed alarming weaknesses in the supply chain, we are finding new ways that digital manufacturing can enable a robust supply chain.

For example, choosing a rapid manufacturing partner that leverages digital manufacturing. Never thought about digital manufacturing and your manufacturing partners in the same sentence? Think again.

What is rapid manufacturing?

Rapid or digital manufacturing is a natural progression from traditional manufacturing. The capabilities afforded by digitization, automation and data connectivity translate into reduced costs, and increased efficiencies. These capabilities can even be used in injection molding.

So how does it work? Each process step is streamlined to accommodate quicker turnaround times with low-cost automated solutions.

Digital manufacturing process for plastic injection molding

The process is entirely digitized. First, request a custom injection molding quote and upload a 3D CAD file onto our servers. Next, part geometry and requirements are analyzed using our proprietary software. Then, an interactive quote is available online.

Upon approval an order is generated and the mold design is finalized within hours – together with the toolpath programming.

Using modular construction and standardized components, mold components are then machined, usually within a few days. After benching and mold finishing, the tool is assembled for first shots and inspection.

This process, achieved through rapid molding, will give your part a lead time of weeks instead of months. The average price? A fraction of the cost for traditional molding.

The capacity that’s available for you to get your part made? Your lead time is always the priority. It’s made in the USA with as many sourced mold materials and resins that can be procured in the allotted time.

As a result, digital manufacturing naturally accelerates every step of the process and reduces the labor intensity while driving the scale of your project.

Designing for injection molding?

 Learn how mold flow analysis can help to optimize the process before production begins.

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Digital manufacting: scale production to meet market demand

Post-COVID-19 we are faced with uncertainties in the market. Digital manufacturing enables us to scale production to help you meet market demand.

For example, consider a complex syringe. It may consist of three, distinct injection-molded parts. Before new production runs are needed to meet supply and demand, the product manager may have a revision to one of the components, driven by departmental standards.

In traditional manufacturing, the retooling investment may push the break- even manufacturing numbers into the thousands – a cost-prohibitive change for many smaller businesses. Digital manufacturing, in comparison, can implement that small design change for approximately a quarter of the investment in a quarter of the time.

Our unique ability to accommodate complex designs is our asset

Your designers have fewer roadblocks, freeing them to work on new projects instead of going back to the drawing board to modify their designs so they can be produced.

Rapid results let your team respond quickly to market requirements with the best product they can design – a competitive edge that keeps your company on top. Without design rework or months-long lead times, innovation can boost your company’s results.

Two optional digital manufacturing services: inspection and project management

The digital manufacturing process at Xcentric is a very rapid and seamless process. The key components of this process include cost, quality, automation and speed to market, which allows customers to go through the iteration process once or numerous times, if necessary, at a very quick speed. By following these steps, customers can maintain their existing quality controls, while developing good parts getting them to market faster.

There are two optional services in this process: inspection and project management.

Digital inspection allows for rapid feedback and tool modifications, if necessary. Experienced Tooling Engineers interface directly with designers during the entire process, providing expert advice and problem solving at any time, which is critical to ensure successful and fast product manufacturing.

In fact, shorter lead times from concept to development can create new-market discoveries. Previously untapped revenue streams that were potentially out of reach can be viable, thanks to new technologies, transforming how companies like yours do business.

Low-cost tooling, development and production have been streamlined so low-production runs are economical enough to test on select markets and use the feedback as an optimized learning curve.

Should demand rapidly increase, the rapid manufacturing process can transition between low-volume to mass production. In turn, that allows you to react to market behaviors quickly and easily, reduce your time to market for increased competitiveness and resolve any potential problems before they impact your shipments.

In instances where production inadvertently slows, rapid manufacturing allows you to make adjustments while still achieving the lowest total cost. That means regardless of the market’s volatility, rapid manufacturing lets you respond accordingly.

Digital manufacturing offers benefits across multiple touchpoints: reducing your time to market, labor overhead and asset utilization, giving you more opportunities for quality control and inventory management. These advantages allow you to explore new revenue streams, develop and enhance innovative designs and respond to market demands. The digital age can transform your company and give your designers the freedom they need to create, develop and enhance in one streamlined methodology. The future is here. Make it work for you.

 

Working on a project?

Let us help you get that first prototype underway and have that part in your hands in as few as five days. Our engineers help you through the design process. Get your project started now!

Maintaining Quality And Value While Moving Fast

Maintaining Quality And Value While Moving Fast

team

It All Starts With The Fundamentals: Team, Team, And Team

According to an old adage, in business we are fortunate if we are able to choose any two of the following: speed, quality, or value. But in those rare instances where we are able to simultaneously enjoy all three, we experience a sense of fulfillment that keeps us coming back to that supplier or partner loyally. So how do companies achieve this, not just on the rare “good day”, but consistently over and over so that this becomes a core promise they can make to their customers? Not easily, so let’s go through it, step by step. Regardless of the endeavor, especially the grandest technical, commercial, and societal undertakings we are familiar with, they invariably have a common element: strong teams of complementary contributors. It all starts with the fundamentals: team, team, and team.
Working together to overcome incredible hurdles, combining talents to achieve more, and generating energy to persevere through adversity: these are just a few of the reasons why teams succeed.
Landing men safely on the moon a few short years after the call to action is perhaps the single most incredible example of team effort in modern human history. Without enormous effort to align within and between hundreds of companies, thousands of teams, and hundreds of thousands of individuals, reaching the moon – or even low earth orbit, would still be in the realm of science fiction. You may counter with instances of sole contributors having achieved great things: perhaps the Dutch master Rembrandt. But he too was often supported by teams of understudies who did much of the foundation work, preparing canvases, mixing paints, with the master adding the defining flourishes to elevate the work to a transcendent level. Shared goals and distributed efforts have made some of the most incredible individuals who they are. When it comes to executing at a high level in business, it is naturally also all about the team. Strong organizations put intense focus on elevating the performance of their teams as one of the top corporate priorities for good reason. Performing consistently at a high level requires everyone to understand and execute their individual role well, communicate with their peers to remain coordinated, understand the objectives, and embrace the strategy and tactics to achieve those objectives as individuals, sub-teams, and as a complete organization. This is why sports analogies are used so often in business. We have all seen how effortless the pros make it look even when they execute complex plays against extremely capable adversaries. TeamThis doesn’t happen by accident or based only on the raw talent of the individual players. It comes from intense dedication to the results of the team ahead of the results of the individual, years of training and bonding as a unit, and strong leadership to focus the team’s energy on achieving the goal. We have all seen how fluidly plays evolve, seemingly telepathic connections between the players as they advance, adapting, acting, and reacting as a group until they succeed. It can be breathtaking. Conversely, we have all seen a team out of sync with itself, unable to win even if the individuals are superstars. Teamwork is above all else the key to success.

The best team still needs the right approach to achieve its full potential

Continuing with sports, we have all seen the overwhelming favorite team adopt the wrong strategy for some reason, or make an incorrect adjustment to the current flow of a game, only to lose to a much weaker opponent who works well as a team and deploys the better approach. How do the teams that win championships year after year avoid this? Systems and discipline. Systems are necessary to instill the best possible practices consistently throughout an organization. Systemic transfer of knowledge, systemic approach to strategy development, systemic product development processes, systemic refinement of manufacturing processes, systemic targeting of customers, suppliers, and partners. It is all about weaving a systematic approach to virtually everything an organization does into the fabric of the company and its culture. This is not to say that systems should be limiting or burdensome, quite the contrary. Some systems are designed precisely to foster freedom of movement and thought. Some of the most successful design consultancies have very well-defined approaches to getting the maximum creativity out of their teams, encouraging unstructured exploration in certain defined phases, because this is what is needed to consistently arrive at novel solutions to design problems. teamworkThe same genius designers without process would be much less likely to arrive at beautiful and clever results as frequently. Discipline is simply a non-negotiable “must” for any high-performance organization. There are very, very few examples of Olympians, World Champions, virtuoso musicians, Nobel Laureates, or bestselling authors, to name a few fields, who are not extremely disciplined in their approach to success. Naturally, their approaches may be wildly different, but to get to the top of any field of endeavor, the team and the individuals must maintain discipline to do the work, follow the strategy, trust their teammates, and follow the system in order to achieve the maximum possible result.

So how do these fundamentals result in achieving speed, quality, and value in our industry?

Our clients come to us looking for very specific solutions related to launching their new products. Most are under intense time pressure due to the normal course of business, and some are needing help in recovering lost time in their project where the pressure is even higher. In every instance, our clients expect us to deliver what we agreed to do, on an accelerated timeline, and for a competitive price. Fortunately, we have the privilege of serving thousands of clients each year from a wide range of industries – aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, defense, industrial, and medical, representing a broad spectrum of applications. The only way we can succeed at this consistently is being great at the fundaments: team, process, and discipline. Fall short on one of these, and we will not maintain delivery schedules, or perhaps the quality will slip, or our costs would become uncompetitive. Our domestic and foreign competition are constantly raising their games to try to catch us, so we must do more every day. Our team comprises professionals with decades of experience in our field, years of tight collaboration together, recurring formal and informal training at all levels, and a very strong sense that we are working together towards a common mission of enabling our clients to bring their products to market as quickly as possible. This explicit focus on our clients’ objectives is the “guiding star” for the team in helping stay aligned on what is important and right in every project. Just as in sports, the more obvious the objective, the more aligned the team will be in getting there in the most efficient and effective way.
Our process to achieve consistent success is based on three pillars: communication, streamlining, and continuous improvement.
Excellent communication is absolutely essential to teamwork and coordination with our clients. We invest the time in every client engagement to explore their project objectives, the context of the project, and the definition of success to be sure we are aligned. This may seem extreme when we are “just making a few plastic parts”. We don’t see it this way. We are making components on the critical path of our clients’ multi-million-dollar product launches, so understanding what is needed and why is commensurate with the value of the projects we are doing. Once a project starts, we ensure tight communication between all team members and our customer contacts, facilitated by our proprietary enterprise management system. Should course corrections be necessary, we tighten the communication loop even further to be sure our clients are fully informed and involved at every step. Secondly, our process to achieve speed, quality, and value relies on streamlining every project phase as far as possible without cutting essential steps. Just as an Olympic sprint relay team moves with incredible speed and fascinating precision with absolutely zero extraneous movement from start, through several hand-offs, to the finish, our team moves from step to step doing only what has been proven to be the most effective activities. Design for manufacturability enhancements, mold design accelerating methods, CNC code generating routines, machining setups and tooling optimization, molding press operation simplifications, and logistics enhancements all have been developed to save hours here and minutes there with the ultimate goal of repeatable success as quickly as possible. When the team deploys this streamlined process with discipline, it is unbeatable. Our organization’s success in delivering consistently has been built over time through continuous improvement initiatives. The philosophies that drive the organization have been steady for many years, however our approaches, processes, and technologies have always been under the microscope for ways to improve. It was not an exaggeration to state that we look for minutes of time savings across entire projects, or ways to improve quality further by a few percent. These matters are discussed and acted on daily by our teams. Without this level of attention to detail we cannot hope to meet the ever-increasing time pressures of our clients.

Summary: striving to continuously deliver faster, better, and more valuable services is central to Xcentric’s culture

Xcentric has become a leader in our segment of the product development and manufacturing industry because of our team, systems, and discipline. We do our utmost to exceed our clients’ expectations through excellent communication, streamlining every aspect of our organization and processes, and repeatedly ask ourselves what more can we do to be better. We have the drive and ambition to be the best we can be for our clients. That is Xcentric.