The Different Types of Manufacturing Processes That Exist Today

Projections show that the global manufacturing and process control market will reach a value of $117.7 billion.

There are several types of manufacturing processes, each with various advantages and limitations.

If you are in the manufacturing industry, you’ll want to have an understanding of the different processes available to you.

For a rundown of the main manufacturing processes that exist today, keep reading.

Different Types of Manufacturing Processes

When a business needs to manufacture a product there are several methods to choose from. The results of the process will depend on the type chosen.

The best type will depend on factors such as the demand for the product, the materials used, and the consistency of the final product.

Repetitive Manufacturing

Companies often need to produce the same parts in huge amounts. Repetitive manufacturing is the best manufacturing process for this.

An assembly line can run 24/7 producing parts in bulk while keeping the production time to a minimum. Many industries make use of this process to some degree, including:

  • Electronics
  • Automotive
  • Durable consumer goods

Making as few changes as possible to the final product helps keep the production line flowing. Such a process is most suitable when the customer demand is stable and predictable.

Repetitive manufacturing relies heavily on automation as the process changes very little. This results in higher production rates and lower manufacturing costs.

Discrete Manufacturing

Similar to repetitive manufacturing, this makes use of production lines. The main difference between the two is that discrete manufacturing is better for making products that are quite varied.

These different products are achievable by carrying out a ‘changeover’ which results in a different assembly configuration. This uses more time, labor, and resources, but makes it possible to produce varied parts.

Most industries that make use of this method are ones that produce products that are likely to be broken down and recycled:

  • Automobiles
  • Furniture
  • Aerospace
  • Smartphones
  • Computers
  • Toys

It is also ideal for industries that need to mass-produce custom products. Laptops, for example, may need modifications during the production process, so this would be the most efficient method.

Job Shop Manufacturing

Assembly lines are common in many manufacturing processes, but job shop manufacturing instead makes use of production areas. These are often workshops or workstations where workers carry out a specific part of the process when a product comes to their station.

This is a relatively slow production method but is ideal for producing custom parts, making it more common for custom manufacturing.

A company that builds wooden furniture, for example, may have a number of stations for different tasks such as:

  • Sawing lumber
  • applying resin
  • Polishing/varnishing
  • Assembly

This is common across a range of industries from something as simple as furniture production to the aerospace and defense industry. The main focus is on precision and quality control to produce the best product possible.

Continuous Process Manufacturing

As the name suggests, this process can run 24/7. It is similar to repetitive manufacturing in this way, and in terms of what it produces (similar products in large quantities).

It is different from repetitive manufacturing due to the materials used. Rather than solid-state components, this uses liquids, gases, powders, and slurries.

Some typical industries that make use of continuous process manufacturing are:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Chemicals
  • Industrial gases
  • Food production
  • Fertilizers
  • Paper
  • Oil refining
  • Power stations
  • Steel/iron/alloys

Batch Process Manufacturing

Batch process manufacturing has a similar purpose to job shop and discrete processes. The final product is based on what the consumer wants, and the number of batches produced will meet that demand.

After the completion of an order, if another batch is not yet required, the manufacturing equipment is cleaned and then left.

In terms of the materials used this method is closer to continuous process manufacturing; liquids, gases, powders, and slurries.

In food production, this could be a company that makes a variety of sauces. If a customer only wants one type, the equipment can be set up to fulfill just that order.

This manufacturing process is often also used for pharmaceuticals, bookbinding, and newspaper printing.

3D Printing

As a relatively new manufacturing process, it has only recently become fully recognized due to increasing use.

Most 3D Printing involves composites, as well as materials such as metals and plastics. The process involves creating a 3D part from a digital model layer by layer.

This removes the need for physical labor or mechanical processes and has increased in popularity within many industries in recent years.

Medical and dental devices, for example, are often produced through 3D printing. A product such as the Aoralscan can create a 3D model which can then be printed out of composite materials.

Other common applications of 3D printing include:

  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Musical instruments
  • Shoes
  • Firearms
  • Buildings

3D printing is a fairly expensive manufacturing process, but costs are decreasing as the technology is improved.

It also comes with some financial benefits. Rapid prototyping means companies can test products before mass production. On top of this, the amount of raw materials/waste is reduced.

Deciding on a Manufacturing Process

Your final decision will be based on a combination of products to be produced, the consumer demand, materials used, and budget.

Other processes such as machining, forming, and joining are possible if they are more suited, so make sure you have done all the necessary research before committing to one.

Also note that if needed, different types of manufacturing processes can be combined to best suit your needs.

If you are interested in more articles on tech and business check out some of our other blog posts.

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