Contract Manufacturing FAQs

What is standard lead time for machined parts?

The lead time for machined parts varies based on volume and complexity. Our standard lead time is about 3 weeks. This gives us the flexibility to provide expedited delivery when necessary. K-Form provides prototyping services. Often, a customer needs a precision CNC machined prototype in days not weeks. We will not guarantee impossible obligations. We will offer the best possible solution available and deliver.

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What materials does K-Form machine?

K-form has experience machining a wide variety of materials from plastics to Aerospace alloys. The majority of our milling is aluminum. The light weight and thermal properties make aluminum a natural choice for the design of rugged machined enclosures and aerospace parts.

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What file types does K-Form accept?

K-Form uses the latest versions of SolidWorks CAD and Espirt CAM. This allows us to use a wide range of files.

2D Drawings 3D Models
  • SolidWorks (preferred)
  • PDF (preferred)
  • DXF/DWG
  • SolidWorks (preferred)
  • Inventor
  • STEP
  • IGES
  • Parasolid

K-Form requires 3D models and drawings for all manufacturing inquiries. A DXF/DWG of a flat part for laser cutting or waterjet may be acceptable. This is an uncommon exception. K-Form has developed these vetting rules to streamline our process.

K-Form can manufacture from a napkin sketch, Visio drawing, or even a sample. We approach these jobs as engineering projects. K-Form design will develop the necessary CAD information and pass this information to manufacturing for quotation.

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Why CNC Machining?

The media hype revolving additive manufacturing (3D printing) leads some customers to ask this question. Although additive manufacturing is certainly a key manufacturing process tool, CNC machining has many advantages that additive manufacturing will not overcome in the near future.

  • Higher Accuracy
  • Superior Surface Finish
  • Faster Delivery*
  • Lower Costs*

Faster delivery and lower costs are, of course, dependent on geometry and quantities. Contact K-Form to speak with design personnel. We would be happy to discuss the best process for your project.

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What is Design for Manufacturing?

Also known as Design for Manufacturability.

All manufacturing processes, including CNC machining, fabrication, and yes even rapid prototyping, have limitations. Design for Manufacturing (DFM) considers how a part or assembly will be made. Manufactures and engineers collaborate to ensure features meet the inherent limitations of manufacturing processes. DFM increases quality, decreases lead time, and lowers cost.

Engineers often only use checklists or guidelines as tools. K-Form recommends working with a manufacturer knowledgeable in the required processes. Start early in the design process. The biggest gains are unavailable in later development stages.

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Why Rapid Prototyping?

The world is buzzing over Rapid Prototyping. Popular magazines like Time, Forbes, and Wired have touted a revolution. The media hype confuses the true advantages. The term rapid prototyping, although popular, is somewhat misleading. Additive Manufacturing is a more accurate term. The process is not necessarily rapid. The process makes more than just prototypes. K-Form will continue to use the more common term of Rapid Prototyping.

The advantages of Rapid Prototyping are several. Primarily, the process is capable of producing otherwise impossible geometry. K-Form prints parts with internal honeycomb. This design feature allows lighter, cheaper parts with great strength. A more common example is a small, detailed part with features an end mill could never reach. K-Form replicates complex parts for simulation. Think Aerospace show and tell. The geometry significantly less costly to generate. If a design is suitable for CNC machining, rapid prototyping is not likely the best choice.

Secondly, Rapid Prototyping is comparatively easy. The 3D printing machines build parts directly from the model. CNC machining requires expensive CAM systems and tooling knowledge. Rapid Prototyping makes manufacturing accessible to a wider audience. The advancement of DIY 3D printers like MakerBot underscore this movement.

K-Form offers a range of Rapid Prototyping processes and materials. Our advantage is in post-processing. K-Form can mill critical features, paint the exterior, insert hardware, and assemble the product. This service extends rapid prototyping to a true, integral manufacturing process capable of end-use items.

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