Many manufacturers underestimate the cost to run a solid surface finishing operation when deciding how best to finish their parts. Surface finishing is precision work, but it can be time-consuming, expensive, and messy. The costs of compressed air, electricity, media, and labor add up quickly. Testing and training take time and you will be forced to deal with wastewater and contaminants.
If you have a well-established product line, working at capacity, bringing surface finishing into your operation may be a way to reduce lead times and costs. However, most manufacturing in the Northeast is done in small runs of different parts and financing a variety of finishing techniques may be cost prohibitive.
It takes time and testing to determine the best way to finish a part. Development costs can soar, if you don’t have the right equipment, are using the wrong media and compounds, or have inexperienced staff.
Since surface finishing is not your core competency, scheduling becomes tricky when you take technicians off one job to do another.
Finishing today is often a multi-step process which utilizes multiple pieces of equipment. It is also important to consider compressed air, media, labor and maintenance when determining your total finishing cost.
Media costs for abrasive blasting average about $1 per pound and can run as high as $3 per pound for certain vibratory abrasives. You may need different types of media to achieve a final finish.
Labor & Training
It takes time to learn how to blast and to run vibratory equipment as air pressure, media, speed, water, compound are all variables.
Do not underestimate the cost of compressed air, it is one of the major costs of doing business in this space.
Surface finishing is a messy business. Dust and wastewater can be an environmental hazard for employees and the earth that requires special handling. Dust contamination can have negative effects on robotic and CNC equipment.
Some manufacturers say that equipment eats its cost in spare parts in one year if being used regularly. It is important to consider the hidden costs of nozzles, filters and gloves.
Surface finishing in-house takes up valuable real estate that can often be put to use in a more profitable way.
The Opportunity: A mid-sized New England machine shop was equipped to handle their entire parts manufacturing process in-house. Their finishing equipment wasn’t in use full time and it took up a sizable area of shop real estate, which left them with little room to expand.
The Proposal: Fortune Metal put together a proposal for outsourcing the parts finishing which would save the company money and also free up the 24’ x 24’ finishing area.
The Result: The company saved $60,000 annually by outsourcing their finishing. With the savings and extra floor space, they were able to purchase an automated laser which generated $330K in new revenue for them.
“We are a precision sheet metal fabrication company and have been doing business with Fortune Metal Finishing for over 15 years. Their work is always meticulous and turned in a timely manner. I highly value our relationship and recommend Fortune without any reservation.”
Scott Langley, President & CEO, RESH, Inc.