A Show For Shops With Evolving Roles

Machine shops and mold makers are being asked to play a changing role in product development cycles. An upcoming event highlights strategies shops can apply to become more effective at the rapid manufacturing services their customers need.

Columns From: 2/12/2010 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Derek Korn

Time to market is everything these days. Intense competitive pressures are forcing manufacturers to compress product development cycles as much as possible. As a result, machine shops and mold makers are being asked to modify their roles in customer product-development initiatives. In addition, their expertise is being tapped earlier in the overall cycle.

Many manufacturers want shops to do more than provide good parts, molds or dies near the end of the product development cycle. Even though this later timing has worked for some time, manufacturers are now needing shops to become engaged sooner, oftentimes even before designs have been finalized. To succeed in an environment in which design change is the norm and prototyping is commonplace, shops must integrate equipment that offers flexibility, responsiveness and choice. That will go a long way toward helping them become the effective, reliable partners their customers hope to have.

So what is the right equipment in this case? The word “prototyping” often calls to mind additive processes such as stereolithography and 3D part printing. The latest additive technologies are more accurate and support a wider range of materials, so they remain practical part-producing alternatives for certain applications. That said, good ‘ole subtractive machining remains a viable choice—and sometimes the only choice—for producing prototypes or small batches of parts in a product’s ultimate material.

An increasing number of shops no longer view additive and subtractive part-producing methods as being mutually exclusive. Having both options available to their customers gives them a competitive advantage versus shops that have made a concrete either/or technology choice. It’s this trend that makes the inaugural PDx/amerimold show so timely and important.

PDx/amerimold, which runs May 11 to 13 in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a trade show and technical conference fostering closer relationships between all parties involved in new product development. For machine shops and mold makers, it offers the opportunity to interact with design experts and equipment manufacturers (of both additive and subtractive processes) as they look to solidify their ever-more-vital role in the product development cycle.

Visit pdx-amerimold.com for more information. We hope to see you there.

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