It’s been a busy year for all of us at CST Precision – we’re excited and proud to announce that we’ve just earned our ISO 9001 and 13485 certifications. For the past 12 months, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to achieve these two important goals. Together, they represent a long-term investment and a significant amount of effort. What’s more, these certifications demonstrate our commitment to quality management and continuous improvement – and that means we’ll be able to provide even better customer service to you.
In order to get our ISO 9001 certification, we had to identify and document all of the successful procedures and processes that go into making parts to spec for customers just like you. But that’s only the beginning – we then hold ourselves accountable to replicating those procedures and processes each and every time we do business. Furthermore, we commit ourselves to establishing a robust quality management system that increases the likelihood of everything we make being exactly what we intend to make. All of this ensures consistency, success, and maximum customer satisfaction.
Our new ISO 13485 certification is a little more specialized than ISO 9001, but just as exciting. It’s a designation of quality management that applies to the medical device space. Think of it as the gold standard for this market. Specifically, ISO 13485 focuses on the areas of risk assessment, risk mitigation, and patient safety in the manufacture of medical device components. With ISO 13485, we can now enter a brand-new market and pursue the business opportunities it provides.
Our dedication to quality management and continuous improvement is good news for you too!
Whether you’re already one of our valued customers, or you’re considering a relationship with us, we invite you to learn more about our ISO certifications. We’d love to chat with you about the exclusive club we’ve just joined, and how it can help us serve you better.
Here at CST Precision, we’re always looking for ways to provide better service to customers. That’s why we’re incredibly excited to announce the addition of a brand-new piece of technology that can save you time, work, and money. Our in-house 3D printer is a game changer that transforms the traditional manufacturing process and dramatically reduces lead time on projects. Let’s take a closer look at how it works and what it can do for you.
A Better Way to Work
Our brand-new 3D printer uses selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, which features a software-controlled laser that melts and fuses powder into solid objects. The results are superior-quality and production-ready parts and high-performance prototypes that are consistent, reliable, strong, and functional. And because the entire process is software driven, SLS technology is much more timely and economical than traditional manufacturing. This means we can reduce your manufacturing costs and significantly cut the lead time on your projects — ensuring that fully functional and customized parts make it into your hands as quickly as possible.
Using an SLS 3D printer also greatly speeds up the process of going from initial concept to prototype to design freeze to production. And that, of course, enables you to get your products to market faster. With SLS 3D printing technology, you can go from design concept to printed prototype within a few hours — something that usually requires days or even weeks to achieve in traditional manufacturing. Design modifications are quick and efficient, because they’re made with the printer’s software (instead of the labor-intensive manual machining work required by traditional manufacturing). What’s not to like about all that?
A Real Win for Clients
SLS 3D printing technology has already begun producing results and delivering benefits for some of our clients. For example, one of our clients used to have us do machining for custom assemblies made out of aluminum components. In the past, we’d have to procure the metal, laser-cut it, machine it – and all of that effort was just to produce a single component. If it didn’t satisfy the customer’s functional requirements, we’d have to make design modifications, go back to the drawing board, and start the whole process all over again.
We proposed a new way: making that initial prototype using our SLS 3D printer. The printer’s software allowed us to create a design for the component, and eight hours later the printer generated the part. It was ready for testing just 2-3 hours after that. The client approved the design quickly and we’ve already produced 50 additional components for them. All of this was done in just a couple of days – that entire process would’ve taken 6-8 weeks using traditional manufacturing! The cost and lead time reduction that SLS 3D printing technology offered was huge. Our client saved more than 50% per unit cost and reduced lead time to market by more than 80%!
“CST Precision has been a great partner in the past few years. A recent project transitioned from concept to production in record time. We were able to bring a product to market quickly while also reducing costs. Shorter development times will pose fewer setbacks and allow us to be more competitive in a wider range of markets.” –Jonathon Temblador, Matica Corp.
What Can We Do for You?
As you can see, having an in-house SLS 3D printer allows us to deliver gold-standard customer service. You may recall our series of posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) where we explained how the “CST” in our company’s name stands for combining, shaping, and transforming – three key tasks that are at the core of everything we do for our customers. Our SLS 3D printer essentially incorporates all three of these mission-critical functions into one fantastically powerful piece of technology. Want to learn more about what SLS 3D printing can help you accomplish? Contact us at email@example.com or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is the third in a three-part series that explores the topic of cost reduction. We hope you enjoy these posts and find them useful.
Welcome back! In thefirst post of this series, we identified six kinds of costs: piece price, quality requirements, non-recurring engineering (NRE), conflicts in goals, transaction and speed.
We also discussed piece price and quality requirements in detail. Our second post in the series focused on NRE and conflicts in goals. Here, in our final post of this series, we’ll explore how transaction and speed play a part in impacting a project’s cost. Let’s get started by looking at transaction as a cost driver.
Transaction costs are the expenses a customer incurs when setting up a new supplier internally. Let’s suppose a customer needs a single-time buy of something that costs $1,000. An existing supplier might be able to do the job just fine. But what if the customer wants to shop around and/or find a new supplier?
Before that can happen, the customer might need 3-4 of its people to audit the prospective new supplier and confirm them as qualified. The audit and confirmation process itself might cost $3,000 (or more). That additional figure is the transaction cost, and overlooking it can lead to some unpleasant surprises.
Additionally, be aware that in regulated environments, annual supplier audits and supplier maintenance can increase costs with each new supplier a customer adds.
Speed becomes a driver of cost when the demand for something causes a disruption. Let’s say a customer needs a supplier to produce 50 of something. It’s well received in the market and sells out immediately – and now everybody wants one. The customer comes back to the supplier and says it needs 1,000 more within two weeks because that’s what the market is demanding.
This scenario requires the supplier to realign all of its resources in order to satisfy the customer’s demand – the supplier might need people to come into work over a weekend or stay late for several evenings. Either way, the customer will have to pay a premium for the disruption that the demand creates on the supplier’s end. Obviously, this kind of scenario is not sustainable over the long term, which drives home the importance of planning.
Charging a one-time expediting fee is always preferable to adjusting the piece price. An expediting fee also sets expectations, because the customer understands that if they don’t put the burden of urgent requirements on the supplier, then they can expect a predictable piece price.
Luckily, it’s possible to mitigate many speed cost factor situations with a little planning and some well-timed conversations. Let’s say a customer places an order for 50 of something that’s a consumable part. We can set up Kanban systems or min/max scenarios to ensure the customer is never left with an emergency. We might deliver that 50-count order with a package of 40 items ready to go and a separate package of 10 items. When the customer has sold the first 40 items and opens the 10-count package, they know it’s a reorder point.
Alternatively, we can have an agreement where we hold a “reserve” quantity on our end as inventory, in case a customer unexpectedly runs low on something and needs more in a hurry.
What can we help you do?
Your supplier should always focus on your company’s interests and concerns – and that includes identifying and addressing all of the factors that can affect cost. Choosing the right supply partner will do much more than just fill a need or provide a service: it will help you save money, make more informed buying decisions, and build a better business. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Ready to learn more about what CST Precision can help you accomplish? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
We also discussed the first two – piece price and quality requirements – in detail. Today’s post picks up where we left off. Let’s take a closer look at NRE and then talk about conflicts in goals. What are they, and how can addressing them (or not) affect your bottom line?
NRE As its name implies, NRE is the one-time cost of researching, designing, developing, and testing manufacturing processes and/or features. Although a customer will pay for NRE early in a product’s lifecycle, this cost can have a direct impact on the product’s profitability. That’s because the product will need to have a certain volume of sales in order to justify and provide a good return on the initial investment in NRE.
NRE can also be experienced as volumes increase (e.g., a custom machine) or as the need for different materials arises. As we mentioned in the first post in this series, it’s important to recall that quality requirements can have a direct impact on NRE costs. For instance, sometimes you just can’t get away from having a lot of critical things on a component, because of how much it needs to interact with other components. In this scenario, you must invest more time and effort into designing a robust process for repeatability. Making your first 1, 10, or 100 of these special components – and ensuring that the process is repeatable and satisfies all of your quality constraints and requirements – will likely drive up NRE expense.
Having frank and thorough conversations about NRE is crucial to reducing costs and ensuring success. When we’re considering NRE, it’s equally essential to discuss how well the customer thinks a proposed new product will actually sell. In a perfect scenario, that means getting all of a customer’s key players and decision-makers together and helping them talk with each other as soon as possible – which brings us to our next factor of cost.
Conflicts in Goals Conflicts often arise among a customer’s production engineers, product development, and purchasing departments. An engineering group’s top priority, for example, might be setting up the repeatable and robust processes and procedures that ensure a successful product launch. The product development people, meanwhile, are focused on coming up with a concept and design that ensures the product does what it’s supposed to do. And the purchasing department wants to get all of it done at the lowest overall expense.
When these three groups aren’t in alignment, it can be costly. Let’s imagine a company where the production engineering group decides on everything it needs and then submits its detailed purchase request. The purchasing department goes out and secures the lowest-cost supplier, who ends up delivering something that compromises the functional requirements that production engineering established. The company may have initially saved money by going with the lowest-cost option, but the result is a product that can’t be sold because it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do or break/wears out earlier. The result is a lot of wasted time, money, and opportunity – and an expensive trip back to square one.
Or how about this scenario: the product development engineering department isn’t as concerned about the piece price – because they just want to get the product made and satisfy proof of concept. So they neglect having any kind of conversation about long-range planning and economies of scale. Over the course of the following year, the volume of the product being made goes from extremely low to very high, with no corresponding price change or plan for transitioning to increased production.
The way to avoid these scenarios and their financial implications is to engage in an exploratory discussion that then becomes an ongoing dialogue. A skilled supplier can make this happen by helping all three departments work together and focus on the company’s collective goals. The supplier can point out that while it’s O.K. for all departments to want what they want, they might not necessarily all get what they want at the same time. This process also helps to identify where a customer might be spending more money than it needs to. Additionally, a good supplier will establish and conduct quarterly business reviews with a client to monitor the progress toward current goals and identify future milestones. These steps eliminate miscommunication and reduce expensive oversights or mistakes. Everyone wins.
Coming up in the final part of this series In the third and final post for this series, we’ll look at transaction and speed – and their impact on a project’s cost. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about what CST Precision can help you accomplish, please contact us at email@example.com or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is the first in a three-part series that explores the topic of cost reduction. We hope you enjoy these posts and find them useful.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the world, it feels as if just about everything has been affected, from countries’ economies to our very social fabric. Despite this, businesses are still grappling with pre-COVID issues, including the constant need to reduce costs. In fact, you could argue that this subject is one of the very few things COVID hasn’t changed.
When we talk about “factors” at CST Precision, we break them down into the following sub-categories:
All of the factors listed above affect our customers’ bottom line in one way or another, and they are all related. The key to reducing costs always rests with asking questions and having conversations. Let’s take a closer look at the first two items on our list: piece price and quality requirements.
Piece Price One of the most important objectives for a supply partner is to design a process for customers that achieves the lowest piece price for the life of a product. In order for that to happen, we need to think about volume, because as volume goes up, the piece price typically comes down. A customer might immediately need to produce 100 objects to fulfill an important order for a key account, but it’s also essential to think about the future and look at the bigger picture early in the process. That means asking questions like, “What about two months from now? Do you think you might need 200 more of these items? 400 more? How about six or eight months from now?”
Having the answers to these questions early on – before engineering work even begins – means we can factor volume into the engineering and production process development. If we have a better idea of the customer’s volume scale-up schedule (or at least a pretty accurate estimate), then we can build a process that best satisfies particular volumes. And that means the products will be made at a lower price with accounting for volume changes.
But there’s an added benefit to achieving lower piece prices. Considering and planning for economies of scale helps a customer determine a fair, competitive, and profitable selling price for the products it’s manufacturing. Small quantities may not be profitable for a manufacturer, but if you plan ahead for volume, then profitability and an accurate market price will naturally follow.
Quality Requirements Quality requirements are another cost driver to keep in mind. Identifying critical quality requirements becomes a lot easier when you know what your absolute functional requirements and design constraints are. And this is where another important conversation should take place. Often, we’ll get requests for quotes or invitations to bid on a project based on customer-provided specifications. And although we can easily provide quotes and bids according to those specs, our customers are better served when we can help them determine what’s actually critical for them.
For example, design engineers will often have a default setting in their design software that gives everything three decimal places. This implies that a component needs to be made to an extremely tight tolerance, which typically requires more processing, more time, and more scrutiny – all of which drive up costs. But what if that three-decimal-place default setting isn’t actually necessary? By having a conversation with the customer, we might find out that kind of tight tolerance isn’t required for the project at hand. And we might learn that we can purchase rough stock that is almost to size or satisfies a specific design constraint requirement. We could create just one single feature that meets an absolutely critical tolerance instead of many – and more costly – ones.
This kind of “pre-work” can reduce a project’s cost by half or even more, depending on the circumstances. But if we never have that conservation, we miss a valuable opportunity to save customers money, add value, and impact their long-term success. (Incidentally, the conversations and pre-work that we’re referring to are key components of our discovery process. You can learn more about that process by reading this post.)
Coming up in the second part of this series Quality requirements can have a direct impact on NRE costs and that’s where we’ll pick up in part two of this series. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about what CST Precision can help you accomplish, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (864) 879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
All contract manufacturing projects begin with a conversation between a buyer and a potential supplier. Making that conversation as effective as possible can mean the difference between failure and success, or mediocrity and excellence. And that’s where the discovery process comes in – it lays the foundation for the work ahead.
As a matter of fact, it’s an awful lot like building a house. You’d never construct a home unless you already had a solid foundation in place, would you? Discovery serves exactly the same purpose in contract manufacturing. But instead of being made from concrete and other materials, this foundation is built with a conversation (or a series of conversations).
The most important discussion you’ll have
The most productive discovery conversations are the ones that ask specific questions and produce detailed answers. When you can articulate exactly what you want and need – and when your supplier clearly understands what you’re looking for, you empower each other to work better together. And that leads to great results.
Your supplier should start your discovery conversation by asking about your design constraints. Any time somebody needs something manufactured, there are always constraints to keep in mind. Identifying and acknowledging them helps you stay focused and ensure a smooth manufacturing process. Let’s say you want your supplier to build you a car that’s 15 feet wide. That car might be the most beautiful thing ever created, but the minute you start discussing design constraints, it’s obvious that the roads simply aren’t big enough to accommodate cars that wide. Your car must be designed and produced within the current constraints of the setting in which it will be used.
Your discovery conversation should also involve asking and answering questions about functional characteristics and requirements. This is where we pose and answer the big question, “What does your product actually need to do?” For example, does it need to rotate? Interact with other parts? Transmit motion? Carry a load? Maybe it needs to do some or all of these things, as well as others. The point is that before your supplier sits down to design and build, you need to know precisely what the end product is supposed to accomplish.
Identifying your design constraints and your functional characteristics and requirements will drive the selections of the materials that will be used to build your product. As you can see, everything rests on the foundation that you and your supplier build during discovery.
Avoid discovery at your peril
It can be tempting to skip all of the pre-work, questions, and follow-up questions in order to jump straight into design and production. But that can be a costly and disastrous mistake, in terms of time, money, and effort. Suppose you just hand your supplier a drawing of what you want. You don’t indicate any tolerances and neither of you engages in a discovery conversation. Your supplier is going to give you a quote based simply on your drawing and nothing else.
For the purposes of this example, let’s assume you approve the quote and production begins. You receive the finished product and realize that you actually needed a tolerance of one thousandth of an inch for a critical safety feature. Because the supplier didn’t ask you about this, and because there was no clear communication about a critical feature, your brand-new product doesn’t do what you need it to do. You’ve lost time and money, and now you’re back to square one. By the time you and your supplier sit down to determine exactly what you need, your project could end up costing more than the original quote by a factor of five or even 10.
A thorough discovery process helps you avoid this nightmare situation. Depending on the supplier, the discovery process might be as formal as a printed questionnaire or a guided discussion that you complete together – or it could be a more organic conversation and note-taking session. However you approach it, the result is the same: a strong foundation and a clear plan forward.
But what if, during discovery, your supplier poses a question that you can’t address or answer? This is a great example of why the discovery process is so important. You now have a valuable opportunity to go back to the appropriate people in your organization and get the information you need to ensure a successful outcome. In doing so, you strengthen the collaboration and partnership between you and your supplier. You also become more knowledgeable about the project and better able to express and clarify your needs. In addition, you become more confident in the purchase you’re making because everyone involved in the process understands what you’re asking for and is armed with the information they need to deliver. And this, in turn, sets the stage for future successes.
Ready to experience this with your next contract manufacturing project? Then contact us at email@example.com or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is the third in a three-part series. If you’re considering contract manufacturing services, you’ll want to watch this space. The posts in this series provide a great introduction to who we are, what we do, and why we’re so passionate about creating solutions for our customers. We hope you enjoy these posts and find them useful.
When we acquired Carolina Tool Works in January 2019, one of the first things we did was change the company name to “CST Precision.” We wanted our new name to both reflect and explain our technologies to our customers. We chose “CST” because these letters stand for Combining, Shaping, and Transforming – three key tasks that are at the core of everything we do. The first post of our series focused on the “C” – combining. In the second post, we discussed the “S,” which stands for shaping. For today’s post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the “T”. It’s time to talk about transforming!
Transforming is a critical operation in manufacturing. Lots of commodity items that we touch and encounter – and take for granted – on a daily basis benefit from transforming. When it’s done right, we don’t even notice or appreciate the chemistry and physics that are involved. It’s really not that different from the experience of eating out at an upscale restaurant. You can obviously recognize that the chef has fantastic recipes and knows all the inputs which need to be managed in order to produce the output (namely, that fantastic gourmet meal sitting on your plate). Although you may not be able to eat the results of our work, it’s just as interesting to learn a little more about what’s cooking behind the scenes.
One of the most common transformation processes we use here at CST Precision is the heat treatment process. During heat treatment, we harden or soften something (typically metals or plastics) so that it performs better. Take cutting blades, for example. By hardening them with heat treatment, we can make those blades do a much better job than they would if we didn’t harden them. They’ll last longer, cut more precisely, and be more durable.
Conversely, when we use heat treatment to soften a material, we make it more machinable and malleable, which means we can then bend it and mold it. This is frequently done with electrical connectors that are machined from brass or copper. With these jobs, we’ll use a heat treatment process called annealing. Think of that electrical connector as a tube that needs to fasten onto something. In order for that to happen, you need to crimp, squeeze, or crush that tube. If it’s not annealed first, it’s going to be brittle and it’s likely to crack. But annealing that tube before we do anything else changes the game: The annealed connector becomes soft and malleable, enabling us to shape it and create the pressure which, in turn, creates the connection.
As we mentioned earlier, heat treatment isn’t just for metals. It’s also useful for plastics that need to be softened. Let’s say we’ve just extruded a plastic tube. That general process results in an object that’s somewhat rigid. But if we put that same tube into an oven to anneal it, we can soften it and give it more desirable characteristics (such as increased malleability).
Two other transforming processes that we use frequently are etching and laser engraving. With these, we can put identifying or graduated marks onto many different kinds of objects, including medical instruments and devices, or measuring equipment (such as rulers). Etching is a very controlled and extremely precise chemical process that uses acid to burn, char, or scorch the marks right onto the material. Laser engraving is slightly different, because it uses a controlled light beam (laser) to make marks.
Another transforming process that we have available to our customers is passivation. You can think of this technique as being rather like a cleaning process. It’s a great option for stainless steel. We often think of this material as being corrosion resistant, and for the most part it is. But we can increase that resistance by putting the material through passivation. This involves placing the stainless steel into an acidic bath that strips and removes all of the iron from the surface. The result? Maximum rust prevention and corrosion resistance.
Whether it’s heat treatment, annealing, etching, laser engraving, or passivation, the transforming work we do typically happens after the combining and shaping operations are complete. Sometimes, transforming work might occur in the middle of different shaping operations. Unlike combining and shaping, our transforming processes are rarely standalone; they are a value-added service, typically in addition to combining and shaping.
As with combining and shaping, there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to transforming. That’s why we always conduct a detailed consultation with our clients. Together, we explore options, discuss design constraints, understand functional performance requirements, and consider all manufacturing options. The result is a manufacturing solution that’s tailor-made for you and your situation.
To learn more about transforming – or CST Precision – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is the second in a three-part series. If you’re considering contract manufacturing services, you’ll want to watch this space. The posts in this series provide a great introduction to who we are, what we do, and why we’re so passionate about creating solutions for our customers. We hope you enjoy these posts and find them useful.
When we acquired Carolina Tool Works in January 2019, one of the first things we did was change the company name to “CST Precision.” We wanted our new name to both reflect and explain our technologies to our customers. We chose “CST” because these letters stand for Combining, Shaping, and Transforming – three value-added activities that are at the core of everything we do. The first post of our series focused on the “C” – combining. In this post, we’ll be discussing the “S,” which stands for shaping. Let’s jump in!
In a contract manufacturing setting, “shaping” simply means starting with raw material and then removing material to achieve a final specification.
There’s no single “right way” to shape something. In fact, there are multiple types of shaping technologies we can use. And that means we can choose the option that’s the best fit for each customer’s unique situations, needs, and budget. Before we can do that, however, we have to ask a few important questions, including:
• How many items do we need to make? • How soon does the customer need the work done? • What kind of materials will we be using? • What are the critical specifications and/or design constraints? • What are the product’s functional requirements?
Once we know the answers to these questions, we can identify the best technology option for each customer’s circumstances. Depending on your specific requirements, we might use one or more of the following options to get your job done:
Let’s look at some of these shaping technologies in a little more detail.
EDM technology is a cost-effective material removal method that allows manufacturers to create features that are often much less expensive to machine, compared to traditional machining processes like milling and turning. The EDM method creates special features into a part and can be used to produce both small and large quantities. Let’s say you need to cut a keyway into a single pulley or gear to fit with a mating shaft. Historically, using a broach would produce the result you wanted, but it would also require a tool to create the specific-sized keyway. EDM, on the other hand, offers you a much more economical method to get the job done, while taking advantage of superior technology. That’s because an EDM machine provides the versatility to make any sized keyway without the expense of maintaining a tooling inventory.
Laser Machining. Technology for shaping metal has come a long way, and it continues to make significant advances. Laser machining, for example, allows us to create parts quickly and accurately without needing to create custom punches and dies. Lasers are also adaptive: We can use them to cut features and shapes into tubes, which has drastically enabled progress in the medical stent market. Products that were previously conceptual are now a reality, because lasers have overcome many limitations of traditional machines and tools.
Precision Grinding is a shaping technology we can use to achieve extremely tight tolerances and fine surface finishes. Grinding itself is an old technology. Shafts, bearings, and various tooling are all traditional examples of ground components. But precision grinding’s capabilities continue to improve in response to market demands. Medical device components, for instance—specifically, the guidewires used for minimally invasive procedures—have advanced grinding capabilities. The tools that are produced as a result are improving the quality of life for patients and surgeons around the world.
CNC Swiss Manufacturing is similar to that of a CNC Lathe, but it’s more specialized for repeatability and volume. Enhancements in machine design have made these machines even more friendly to the prototype process. Historically, CNC Swiss-style machines were ideal for high-volume, continuous production of screws and similar items, and they still are well suited for this type of product. But technology advancements in Swiss Machining have also resulted in machines that are now capable of producing a much greater variety of parts in single operations, thanks to the addition of spindles, lasers, and multiple axes.
Because there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to shaping, we always conduct a detailed consultation with our clients. Together, we explore options, discuss design constraints, understand functional performance requirements, and consider all manufacturing options. The result is a manufacturing solution that’s tailor-made for you and your situation.
In the third post of this series, we’ll discuss the “T” in CST: transforming. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about shaping – or CST Precision – please contact us at email@example.com or 864-879-8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog post is the first in a three-part series. If you’re considering contract manufacturing services, you’ll want to watch this space. The posts in this series provide a great introduction to who we are, what we do, and why we’re so passionate about creating solutions for our customers. We hope you enjoy these posts and find them useful.
When we acquired Carolina Tool Works in January 2019, one of the first things we did was change the company name to “CST Precision.” We wanted our new name to both reflect and explain our technologies to our customers. We chose “CST” because these letters stand for Combining, Shaping, and Transforming – three key tasks that are at the core of everything we do. In this first blog post of our series, we’re going to focus on the “C.” So let’s take a closer look.
What is “Combining”?
When we talk about “combining” in a contract manufacturing setting, we’re actually referring to several things. We’ll start with the most basic one. At the simplest level, “combining” means we’re using technology to join or mix two materials in order to satisfy a customer’s functional characteristic. Perhaps we need to weld those materials together. Another project might require us to assemble them with bolts or screws. In other cases, we might bond materials to each other. Welding, assembling, and bonding are all examples of combining.
Each of these techniques has its advantages and merits, so which is the right one to use? It really depends on what our customer is trying to accomplish, and whether the setting is a prototype phase or a full production phase. For example, if you’re working on a prototype, you’re probably not terribly concerned about aesthetics at this stage – so welding two components together is a great solution. For some production environments, however, it’s a little different. Maybe you want your finished product to look flawless (or at least as close to it as possible). In that case, welding might not be so appealing if it’s going to be visible to end-users. And in the production phase, you may also not want the added labor that welding requires. On the other hand, welding could be the perfect solution in some production environments because it may be the best way to satisfy cost constraints.
There’s usually never just one right answer, and that’s what makes this industry so fascinating. Take the options that are available with bonding, for instance. There are so many different kinds of bonding glues and technologies we can use. The key is knowing your components, because certain glues can disintegrate over time or during production.
Other Types of Combining
What about if you’re in the printing industry? In that case, “combining” means applying ink to a surface (in order to make that surface readable). The printed surface in question could be a label, a user guide, an insert, or a parts list. But that printed surface could also be objects such as kitchen utensils (think of that Pyrex measuring jug you use all the time), medical equipment, or PVC pipes. You might need to use a specific color of ink for safety reasons. Tasks that most of us take for granted, such as marking an object, could require an incredibly detailed engineering process. It’s important to ensure that the printing ink will adhere to a surface properly and stand up to repeated use, wear, and/or cleaning.
Insert/over molding are two processes that also come under the generic term of “combining.” These processes could include tasks such as putting a handle on a screwdriver blade, or a silicone spatula head over a stainless-steel handle. The nuances and specifics involved in these processes depend on things as varied as ergonomics or safety concerns.
Finally, let’s not forget platings and coatings, which also use combining technologies. Platings and coatings are perfect solutions for customers who need their products to be non-corrosive or to last a long time. (Patio/pool furniture and cookware are everyday examples of items that benefit from platings and coatings.) Deciding which ones to use depends on many factors, especially cost. For instance, combining a less expensive material, such as brass, with a zinc plating or black oxide process could lower the manufacturing cost significantly compared to using a higher-priced material, such as stainless steel.
The bottom line when it comes to your options for combining? There is clearly no “one size fits all” approach. And that’s why we always conduct a detailed consultation with our clients. Together, we explore options, discuss design constraints, understand functional performance requirements, and consider the engineering options. The result is a manufacturing solution that’s tailor-made for you and your situation.
In the second post of this series, we’ll discuss the “S” in CST: shaping. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about combining – or CST Precision – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864.879.8165. We’d love to work with you, from concept to prototype, print to part, prototype to production, and production to supply chain fulfillment!
With President Matthew Welle in place, CST Precision, Inc. will continue to offer customized solutions to existing customers, while pursuing growth in additional markets.
CST Precision specializes in precision component manufacturing, but also can reverse engineer replacement components and parts for emergency repairs, provide design and engineering services, and satisfy project-based manufacturing needs.
Welle has worked in a variety of roles during his career in manufacturing and service-based industries, including production, operations management, engineering, sales, and quality control. This extensive experience has given him the confidence to pursue creating a company with a culture of excellence.
“Each customer has a unique set of circumstances and problems; our approach is to clearly understand those circumstances and align our solutions to meet those challenges,” he said. “We are investing in people and technologies to offer broader solutions to our customers. Our future investments will be driven by the needs of our customers and market trends.” “We will work to distinguish CST Precision by executing a rigorous discovery and engineering process that allows us to customize solutions to satisfy specific requirements of our customer’s unique opportunities”, he said.
The contract manufacturing company, based in Greer, South Carolina, can provide solutions from concept to prototype, to production and supply chain fulfillment.
Continuity, Service and Growth
Welle said the immediate goal of CST Precision is providing continuity of service to the company’s valued existing customers. “Once we have the structure and systems in place to ensure we are meeting the needs of existing customers, we will aggressively pursue growth by offering new solutions to them and expanding our client base,” he said. “The structure and systems we will put in place will be focused on our people, our processes and the quality of our services and products.”Welle said he was blessed to work for successful entrepreneurs in sole ownership companies, leaders in private-equity owned organizations, and executives with publicly-traded companies. “During my time with these companies, I was able to identify the culture I wish to cultivate, foster and create in my own organization,” he said. “I had great examples of the leadership required to make it a reality.”
He said the CST Precision customers require unique solutions.“CST Precision’s team has realized success working within a diverse group of manufacturing technologies while servicing various industries, which gives us the ability to bring unique solutions to our customers,” he said. “Our diversity is our strength, as it gives us the humility and openness required to focus on gaining a genuine understanding of our customer’s needs, only then do we work on solutions.”
Multi Axis CNC Machining (milling and turning)
Electrical Discharge Machines (EDM)
Laser Machining and Engraving
Engineering and Design for Manufacturability
Contact us to learn more about how CST Precision Inc., can provide solutions for your manufacturing needs and challenges.