Top 5 Benefits of Using Off-The-Shelf Items

The process of designing metal parts is time consuming in itself. As we all know, time is money, and one of the great ways to save time and money is to design parts using off-the-shelf items. We occasionally come across a customer who designs fully custom parts including the hardware, brackets, tubing, and other custom components. We often times make suggestions to use off-the-shelf items if they serve the same or similar purpose in order to cut costs and save time. It should be known that it is acceptable and encouraged to used off-the-shelf items. Some engineers may believe that by having fully custom parts help to set their design apart from others, but this isn’t economical or efficient in the long run. Here is a list of the top 5 benefits of using off-the-shelf items in the design of your metal parts:

Top 5 Benefits of Using Off-The-Shelf Items:

  1. Time Savings: The time it takes to design the custom part, design and create the tooling, create and test the custom part, and the time to manufacture can all be diminished by using off-the-self items as an alternative.
  2. Cost Savings: Anything that takes time will equate to money. So everything listed in number one above will result in less money spent to design and manufacture custom parts. In addition, when manufacturing custom parts, many times there are minimums involved which can really increase costs. Custom parts can even lead to investing in machinery, equipment, software, and staff which is a huge investment.
  3. Availability: One of the largest advantages is the accessibility and convenience of getting off-the-shelf items. Many times off-the-shelf items are readily available from same day to a couple weeks for delivery. This is a huge time saver as oppose to the weeks or even month long lead times to design, test, and manufacture.
  4. Modification: The great thing about using off-the-shelf items is that you already have ahead start to a custom part. Many off-the-shelf items can be easily modified to meet your design’s fit, form, and function. For instance, instead of designing a custom round tube with a custom wall thickness and length, you can easy purchase an off-the-shelf round tube that is over-sized in length and wall thickness. This would allow you to cut it to size and machine the wall thickness. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel by making it from scratch.
  5. Flexibility: By using off-the-self items, it allows for more flexibility in manufacturing if changes or revisions are to be made. Change is always inevitable, so investing time and money to create custom parts that are similar to off-the-shelf isn’t always a good investment if a part ends up changing in the future. Being stuck with unused and useless product is never a good thing.

By keeping these benefits in mind while designing and engineering parts will be a huge help in the long run. If you have other recommendations, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading along and stay tuned for our next blog post.

Here are some references of off-the-shelf parts that are widely used:
http://www.mcmaster.com/
http://www.hoffmanonline.com

 

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