Custom fabricated vs. mass-produced rubbers

October 10, 2013
Custom fabricated vs. mass-produced rubbers

When it is time to buy quality rubber components for industrial applications, very often one of the early decisions to make is whether to opt for custom fabricated or mass produced rubbers. As with everything, which option is better depends on the specific circumstances of the purchaser. Each choice comes with its own benefits that should be considered.

Mass Produced

The first, and likely most crucial, advantage of mass produced rubber products is price. By the time a rubber component has graduated to the point of being mass produced for sale to many customers, chances are good that the expenses incurred in the design and engineering phases have been recouped. Once this has happened, the mass produced rubber is now a lower overhead product and the manufacturer can shift focus to volume sales.

Another key advantage found with mass produced products is availability. This advantage really only applies to very generic products, but for those products it is possible that many manufacturers are actually producing identical parts. When this is the situation, there can be no bottleneck waiting for a single producer to deliver and it becomes possible to shop different suppliers.

Custom Fabricated

As with all custom products, the biggest advantage is getting exactly the part, made of the exact materials and to the exact specifications required. This benefit is especially important in situations where efficiency and effectiveness are the most desired characteristics of the product. An easy way to see this difference is automobiles. For everyday drivers, squeezing out the last ounce of performance from their vehicles is not going to be the difference between successfully arriving or being stuck at ‘Go’. On the other hand, race car drivers require superb performance and the difference between good performance and great performance is the difference between making more money than the competition or falling behind. For this reason, where it is allowed virtually all race car parts are custom fabricated. The business world is no less competitive than a car race and the slimmest margin of performance could translate to a terrific advantage over other companies.

The second key advantage of custom fabrication of rubber products is protection from obsolescence. Industrial equipment can be a massive investment. Having made this investment, a company is now at the mercy of the market when using mass produced parts. Should changes occur in the industry standard, those orphaned machines suddenly become impossible to maintain due to lack of parts. A custom fabricator can always simply make more.

The choice between custom fabricated and mass produced rubber products boils down to one decision – Is a lower price and average performance what the buyer wants, or is establishing and maintaining peak performance the desired result?