4 Simple Design Tips to Reduce the Cost of Your Part

You’ll save time and money if you begin with the end in mind.

The core principle of machining is to remove everything that doesn’t look like the blueprint to get to the part. But the more material you have to remove, the more expensive the part gets—you’re not just wasting material, you’re also racking up cost in quoting time, programming, setup, and machine time.

When it comes to overall production cost, machine time affects the bottom line more than material cost. Whether you’re machining aluminum, stainless steel, or brass, a few simple tweaks can bring down the price of your part and improve turnaround time. 

Those tweaks begin with a design that’s streamlined for manufacturing (DFM). 

So if you’re looking to decrease cost for your machined parts, try decreasing machine time by considering the following:

  1. Remove as little material as possible. All the CNC machine shops in Jacksonville, Florida, will tell you that the #1 core machining principle is to remove as little as you can. There are two ways to approach removing less material. The first is to think about how to break complex parts into simpler, separate parts. The second (if quantities support it) is much more practical: create a near net shape extrusion to minimize the amount of machining necessary. 

    Think of it this way: if you were creating a square pipe, you could get a square piece of material, mill and remove all the materials, and end up with a square tube. OR you could have that shape extruded and do the finish milling inside and outside for 1/10 the amount of machining! You’ll save not only on machining time, but also on scrap.
  1. Reduce the number of setups. Maybe a part only needs to be machined from 2 sides instead of 4. Maybe all the part features can be done from the same side instead of opposite ones. If your design is laid out to minimize the number of machine setups required, you can cut down hours of time on layout and configuration, which can lower your quote.
  1. Consider material selection carefully. When there’s flexibility in material choice, think about what’s optimal for the production environment as well as the end purpose of the part. Softer materials can warp more easily and may require more careful machining strategies that add machine time. If your part won’t be visible, there’s no need to design in expensive bronze when brass would do just as well! And remember that a prototype doesn’t necessarily need to be made out of your end material, either. 

    We can always help make recommendations about the machinability of a particular material (hint: aluminum is one of the easiest materials to machine!)
  1. Understand basic machining abilities. You don’t need to be an expert in machining—that’s why you’ve got the team at our machine shop in Jacksonville! But if you have some knowledge of the capabilities and limitations of common machines, you can design to increase speed and reduce machine time (and cost). 

    For example, a CNC mill or lathe’s tooling may become unstable if the part needing to be drilled is too slender. Our engineers can recommend simple design adjustments to optimize your part for manufacturing, including reducing the number of tools required to complete the job. 

When you start the design process with manufacturing in mind, you can often lower your turnaround time and reduce your costs. One final piece of advice: get your manufacturer (Polyhistor) involved in the process early!

Polyhistor International is an engineering-based manufacturing company—we can see production from both the engineering and the manufacturing side. We are experts when it comes to making design recommendations for your project, so request a quote from us today!