What is Micromanufacturing and Why Should You Be Thinking About It?

What is Micromanufacturing and Why Should You Be Thinking About It?

The plain facts are that the micromanufacturing does what it says on the tin and the description goes some way to telling you what this technology is all about, which is that it describes a process based on manufacturing a product in small quantities using manufacturing facilities that could be easily described as micro-sized, in comparison to some of the giant sites that exist around the globe.

When you think it about, many inventions and products get smaller as the technology evolves and when you have tools such as a micro laser cutter for highly precisioned engineering tasks you soon begin to understand the possibilities that exist with micromanufacturing.

A new industrial revolution is underway

There have been several notable landmarks over the years when it comes to manufacturing processes and the industrial revolution represented seismic change in the way we produced goods, and you could argue that micromanufacturing is yet another significant line in the sand.

Mainly thanks to state-of-the-art design software and the development of intelligent laser cutters that are controlled by computers, the introduction of 3D printers into the mainstream and other innovations, it is now much easier for a designer to transform their blueprint into something tangible.

Another major transformation is the ability to send these digital designs via the internet to anywhere in the world, meaning a micro-factory on the other side of the planet could be producing your item in no time at all.

Removing these logistical and geographical barriers allows you to reduce costs and respond to market conditions with the sort of dexterity that would be almost impossible to achieve if you were running a huge factory production line.

Research and development at a fraction of the traditional cost

Creating a new product that is going to roll off the production line in huge volumes is something that takes a lot of planning and often involves a considerable amount of time and money to make it all happen.

Micromanufacturing allows you the opportunity to turn a prototype into a finished product in a much shorter space of time and for considerably less cost when you compare the two options.

One example of this in action would be the TechShop site where you can pay a modest fee for access to all the hardware and software you need for your project, including laser cutters, plus you get guidance on how to use all of the technology at your disposal.

Having access to 3D design software means you can work on creating a model of the product you want to create and make turn it into something real that you can take to market in no time at all.

This new and collaborative approach to manufacturing is predicted by some industry analysts to have an even greater impact than the introduction of the internet.

If that prediction for the next industrial revolution is anywhere near accurate it clearly demonstrates what a big deal micromanufacturing really is.

Cutting out the middleman

A fundamental point about micromanufacturing is that the technology has now made it considerably easier to design, create and sell your product all by yourself and without the need to use or rely on any external resources to get to the market.

This represents a considerable change to the traditional route you would have taken in the past, which often involved trying to find someone to manufacture your prototype and then going through the challenges of trying to persuade a retailer or distributor to stock your product.

Only a short while ago it would have been an impossible dream to create a manufacturing business from your spare bedroom and then ship the product to customers all around the world but micro manufacturing technology has now made this a viable proposition.

You can send the design to any partner around the globe if you still want to enjoy the competitive edge that local manufacturing can offer, and each micromanufacturing setup can replicate your product using laser cutting technology to create a perfect standard finish every time.

Comparing manufacturing costs

It is possible that in a direct comparison, without considering any other factors, you might find it costs more to make each item when you are producing on such a small scale than it would with the more traditional mass manufacturing model.

However, economies of scale are not the only way to look at this issue.

With micromanufacturing, you will often be making the products on-demand and that means you won’t need to have capital tied up in stock that would otherwise be sitting on a shelf and your overheads will be kept to a minimum because you are making the most efficient use of resources and wastage will be very low.

When you start looking at the bigger picture and consider all the contributing factors it could be that micromanufacturing does compare favorably from a cost perspective.

Lower manufacturing costs are now a reality

Digital technology is making a significant contribution in helping to lower design and manufacturing costs and to give you one example of this you only have to look at how much cheaper it is to use a 3D printer compared to just a couple of years ago.

It is also well worth pointing out that as the technology has evolved it has enabled designers and manufacturers to be able to work with a much wider range of materials.

You can now use laser cutters on a wide variety of different materials and surfaces and this ranges from plywood and plastics to gold-plated steel and ceramics.

We are now in an era of micromanufacturing and it doesn’t take much working out to see the distinct advantages of going down this route with your design and production plans.

In the past, it took time to get a product to market and it has always been the case that slow setup times could be damaging to your cash flow in the interim period, however, a new generation of machines offer the speed and flexibility that is needed to give your business a competitive edge.

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