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When to Choose Stock Components for Prototype Models

If you want to save time and money on your next prototype model, consider using stock components instead of having parts custom-made. 

It’s no secret that we specialize in complex projects here at KAD. We jump at the opportunity to solve complicated prototype CNC machining problems, and we love bringing intricate designs to life. But there are times when some of the components required for our clients’ prototype models are actually quite simple—so simple, in fact, that we can buy them off the shelf. 

Ready-made components like screws, nuts, or threaded inserts are inexpensive and easy to source. Often we forget that slightly more complex shafts, rails and fittings can be purchased and modified to suit.  The key is knowing when to rely on these stock components for your mechanical assembly.

Stock Components for Prototype Models

Here are three indicators that your prototype model might benefit from a stock component: 

  • The component you need already exists. You may assume that working with a small local machine shop to get your component made is more cost-effective than ordering from a large stock supplier. But if a component with the right specifications is already available off the shelf, purchasing it outright is probably cheaper than having it machined.
  • You only need slight modifications. Purchasing a stock component and modifying it to fit your specifications can be more cost-effective than machining an entire component from scratch. For instance, we recently refashioned an off-the-shelf rail from McMaster-Carr to meet our client’s needs. Just be sure to call out any stock parts that you plan to use on your drawing when requesting a quote. Most shops will quote components as custom unless a specific stock part number is indicated.
  • You’re using hardware. There are always exceptions to any rule, but when you need hardware for your mechanical assembly, stock hardware will usually get the job done.  Major companies like Apple may custom-make their own screws, but those choices are usually for aesthetic and IP reasons—and much as we hate to admit it, most of us aren’t Apple. 😉 

We’re always looking for ways to help our clients optimize the prototype CNC machining process. Whether you need stock or custom components for your mechanical assembly, KAD is here to help. Request a quote today!