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Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping has taken on a crucial role in modern manufacturing: Today's quality requirements have made beta testing of complex assemblies imperative for many OEMs, and rapid prototyping of those assemblies' subcomponents makes this testing possible, timely, and affordable. We've found that there are four keys that have allowed us to be competitive in the field of rapid prototyping: Agility, experience, communication, and a commitment to customer service.

The relative agility of a smaller operation like OEP Stamping is well known; but in addition to this level of responsiveness caused by a lack of bureaucracy, our operation has an additional advantage: Because of OEP Stamping's association with OEP Machining, we're able to draw on resources that include CNC turning capability, multiple 4-axis CNC vertical machining centers, and a wealth of machining knowledge, enabling us to produce tooling for prototypes in-house. In the field of rapid prototyping, the ability to do as much of the work in-house is critical, assisting in lead time, price, and the ability to experimentally develop tooling for new, unusual operations.

Our experience in working with a wide variety of materials (hot and cold-rolled steel, tin-plated steel, stainless steel alloys, aluminum alloys, beryllium copper, copper, phosphor bronze, brass, nickel silver, various plastics, and so on) in a variety of thicknesses (from .002 to .125 for blanking, and up to .5 thick for forming operations) and in a variety of geometries considerably streamlines the tooling design process, again helping us to offer short lead times at reasonable prices.

Our ability to communicate with our customers' engineers is enhanced by our technical proficiency in the use of CAD/CAM to exchange prints, and by our ability to use and understand the technical vocabulary of several different disciplines. Our customer base has included companies involved in such diverse applications as medical equipment, food processing equipment, high-pressure pumps, and semiconductor fabrication equipment. Each of these OEMs has a unique lexicon of technical terminology.

The final advantage that our company has in its ability to compete for work in rapid prototyping is our willingness to do so, because of a commitment to customer service. The margin that can be made in prototyping isn't as large as the margin that can be made in production volume work, and the risk is greater. However, this is a critical service that we provide for our customers, enabling them to develop new products. We provide this service as an investment, in order to cement a good relationship with our customers.