A significant influencing factor in the selection of materials and processes for manufacturing a product is the production volume.
limited or one-off production the materials are likely to be bought in
small, relatively uneconomic, quantities and in forms that need further
machining/processing. A jeweller might buy a strip of silver that needs
to be drawn into thin sections or melted into the desired shape. A joiner
might buy a length of timber which needs to be sawn and planed into the
desired shape. A potter might buy a bag of clay which he/she shapes on
a wheel. In each case the outlay on materials is small but uneconomic
and in each case a significant amount of waste is likely to occur.
manufacturing levels have reached tens or hundreds, there are significant
savings to be made by employing efficient techniques for carrying out
repetitive tasks. Your material costs are likely to be lower per item
because you are ordering in bulk. It becomes worth your while constructing
jigs so that, for example, a series of holes are drilled in the same place
each time eliminating the need for time-consuming marking out. It is economical
to construct a metal pattern for sand casting or a mould for vacuum forming.
CNC machining can be used for repetitive machining tasks.
represents a big leap from one-off and batch production. There is a much
greater initial commitment in terms of manufacturing equipment and facilities.
Machines can cost millions and the tooling for these machines hundreds
of thousands of pounds. The need to get the product right is imperative
as it may require volumes of tens of thousands to recoup the investment.