Manufacturing Complex Parts

When it comes to manufacturing technically difficult parts, all suppliers are not the same. Suppliers need the right tool to make a part with the quality and consistency required.

Protomatic, a precision CNC machine shop in Dexter, MI, is good for handling difficult tasks.

Protomatic operations manager Doug Wetzel said: "In our business, it is not clothes that make the man, it is the tools that make the man.

"Our success is from our knowledge and how we use our tools."

Do they have the capabilities and tools?

Protomatic has a wide range of equipment, including CNC 5 axis machining, CNC turning, and CNC multi (8) axis machining centres. These are mainstream and operate on the majority of the shop’s work.

Protomatic also has specialised finishing equipment such as micro-blast deburring, vibratory, and magnetic tumbling.

Microscopes enable machinists at Protomatic to see, address, and provide the attention to detail required in critical parts. Other processes include manufacturing rubber moulded parts, welding, forming and bending to accent the equipment.

While having the right equipment is critical, there are other areas that need to be addressed when evaluating a supplier.

Are they experienced in what the job requires?

Purchasing custom parts from job shops is not easy. There are a lot of risks when selecting a supplier.

Customers need to ensure the supplier knows what is required, and has the capability and capacity to do it. Knowledge of the industry and ease of communication are beneficial.

Are they aware of needed licenses and validations?

All industries have special requirements and specific needs. Some industries require an ITAR license, conflict minerals controls, ROHS controls, counterfeit material control, or ISO requirements.

There are also process-based specific requirements, such as process validations (IQ, OQ, PQ & DQ Protocols), material and NADCAP process traceability, design support, laser part marking or a nitrogen purge Bag &Tag. These programmes are all available at Protomatic.

Do they have the capacity and infrastructure to manufacture and inspect?

Inspection instruments are expensive and have limitations. While CMM inspection machines are capable, the demand for flawless parts requires better and faster inspection technology.

In most applications, critical features have to be inspected at 100% sampling size. This creates additional costs, especially when more time is spent inspecting parts than manufacturing them.

To be as efficient as possible, Protomatic uses various types of inspection devices, including XRF to confirm raw material alloys and tally surf to measure surface roughness.

To measure part quality, optical comparators, vision systems, laser micrometers, optical/3D microscopes and CMMs are all used.

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