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Optimizing for Higher-Volume Machining

Higher-Volume Machining makes it easier to get lower costs, fast lead times and finishing options.

Xavier’s CNC machining is different from traditional manufacturing. Our process is fully automated – from CAD analysis to automated toolpaths and digital inspection – and we’re incredibly fast. This automation allows us to increase speed.
Machining is also suitable for jigs, tools, fixtures and other low-volume parts and allows for flexibility and economy in part production.
This tip covers the details of our high-volume machining capabilities, including pricing, lead times, finishing options, and more.

Machining to meet large volume requirements

At Xavier, we found a way to fill the production volume gap and address upfront costs and warehousing costs. With our vast machining capabilities of nearly 100 CNC machines, we can mill or turn parts at a day’s speed for high-volume part processing or for low-volume end-use part production, which reduces machining costs without increasing turnover. Delivery time.

The nominal “break point,” the price break between part processing and production processing, is approximately 100 parts. Production machining can also help ensure part quality through FAI reporting, Certificate of Compliance (CoC) documentation, and certifications such as ISO 9001 and AS9100.

Production processing does not offer the same economies of scale as molding or casting processes, especially at high volume levels (tens of thousands or millions). However, as machining throughput increases, the cost per part also decreases (low-volume production of tens to thousands). Production machining also solves warehousing and inventory issues, providing supply chain flexibility by producing parts on demand. In fact, in many cases, our customers are finding that our machining services now allow them to use a single source supplier for everything from proof of concept to low-volume production to high-volume production.

High-volume processing provides supply chain flexibility

We have several key advantages, especially when you need to produce a large number of parts relatively quickly, or even in varying quantities. With our capabilities, we can produce more parts faster than other manufacturers. Our end-to-end process starts with design analysis and quotation. Upload your CAD model and get a free analysis and quote within hours. If you need a prototype, request a quick quote and get finished parts as fast as a day. When you’re ready to produce more parts, request a production quote and get parts in as little as fifteen days. Our production capacity and extensive material inventory ensure this quick turnaround. The entire production process from toolpath development to machining to finishing is handled in-house for maximum speed, quality and process control.

Associated with flexible quantities, utilizing machining eliminates the high initial costs of mold or die production. Once you develop the toolpath, you can order machined parts in quantities as small as 100 pieces. On the other hand, if your end volume is high enough to justify molding or casting, you could use machining for bridge production and push your product out while you wait for the production mold, die, cast or forge to be made market.

Production Machining of Plastics

When production volumes are 1,000 or less, processing plastic may be cheaper than injection molding. Additionally, machining can produce parts that are difficult to form. These may include parts with uneven wall thickness or with wall thicknesses exceeding 0.150 in. (3.81 mm), often required as fixtures or wear plates.

As part size increases, the overall speed advantage of machining over injection molding increases at moderate volumes. Additionally, machining plastic eliminates the risk of dents, warps and weld lines that can occur in molded parts, and machined parts don’t require draft angles like injection molded parts.

In some cases, engineers might consider using 3D printing to achieve these yields, but the fact that machined parts are cut from solid blanks gives them several advantages over 3D printed parts. Because machined parts are not layered, they may have higher physical integrity than printed parts. They can be cut from materials that 3D printers cannot use and can be machined to a smoother surface than printed parts.

Plastic production materials used by Xavier for processing include ABS, acetal, acetal copolymer, PEEK and PEI:

Plastic MaterialsMaximum Part Size
ABS7 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
Acetal (black, white)7 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
Acetal Copolymer (black, natural)7 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
PEEK (black, natural)7 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
PEI (Ultem)7 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
Plastic machining dimensions

Metal production and processing

For low to medium volumes, machining of end-use metal parts offers significant advantages over die casting. As with plastics, machining is faster and cheaper than casting at the right volume.

While machining can start producing parts immediately, die casting requires the production of hardened steel molds, a slow and costly process.

There is more metal that can be machined than die cast. Die casting leaves a rough surface, like on cast iron cookware. This surface can be smoothed by machining, but this is a time-consuming secondary process.

The finished product produced by die casting is also not as strong as the blanks used in machining. Die cast metal can be porous, brittle, and prone to elongation. For these reasons, machining may still be preferable to casting even if casting offers cost advantages.

Xavier’s metal production materials include Aluminum 6061, Aluminum 7075, Steel 1018 and Steel 4140:

Metal MaterialsMaximum Part Size
Aluminum 60617 in. x 15 in. x 3 in./15 in. x 18 in. x 1.75 in.
Aluminum 70757 in. x 15 in. x 3 in./15 in. x 18 in. x 1.75 in.
Steel 10187 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
Steel 41407 in. x 15 in. x 1.75 in.
Metal machining dimensions

Metal finish options: Anodizing and Chromate Plating

Once the part is machined, we can complete the production process with a variety of finishing options, depending on the metal. These include:

Type II, ROHS Compliant, Class 1 (clear) and Class 2 (black) anodized
Type I, Type II, Class 1A and Class 3 Chromate Plating
Anodizing and chromate plating are common surface treatment options and effective methods of protecting machined metal parts from corrosion. These processes can also enhance the overall appearance of metal parts.

Our anodizing process is RoHS compliant, which means the materials we use are environmentally friendly and contain virtually no mercury, lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, PBB or PBDE. Chromate plating is different from anodizing. No metal is added to form a protective layer. In contrast, electroplating is a conversion coating that changes the properties of a metal surface. Again, both options offer excellent corrosion protection.

Threading Options for Machining

Our CNC machining services can also add thread features to milled and turned parts. Please specify in our automated interactive quote. We offer a range of UNC, UNF, NPT, MC, UNC STI and UNF STI options in standard, tapered, metric and standard helical threads. Please see the threading options table on our production processing page (contact sales@xavier-parts.com to obtain). On milled and turned parts, threaded holes must be modeled with the correct diameter, however, threading options are different for milled and turned parts. Our threaded hole guide page provides more details, including a maximum range table.

Additional consulting assistance with design

Finally, it should be noted that we can accept 2D drawings of critical features of your production parts. Just email sales@xavier-parts.com to ask our application engineers. You can learn more about our CNC production capabilities by viewing CNC machining of production parts.