Are the Tightest Tolerances Always Necessary?
If your costs and lead times for a specific part are higher and longer than you’d prefer, it’s worth investigating that part’s tolerances.
While tight tolerances are non-negotiable for many applications, like fuel flow or hydrogen systems, there are times when tolerances can be loosened without impacting part functionality, resulting in lower costs and faster lead times.
Our Tolerance Philosophy at Peerless Precision
We take pride in our ability to machine parts to our customers’ most precise specifications, achieving tolerances as tight as a millionth of an inch when required.
Because we’re known for being a tight tolerance machine shop, we always give our customers the benefit of the doubt when they design a part with exceptionally tight tolerances. We trust that they know their part’s requirements—and that they came to us for a reason—so we never change a design or give our opinion unless asked.
While customers don’t always ask us about tolerances specifically, they often have questions about costs. The reality is that whenever a zero is added to a tolerance, you’re guaranteed to add a zero to the price of your part. So when customers reach out to us with budgetary concerns, one of our first suggestions is that they evaluate their tolerance requirements to see if there’s room for flexibility.
Loosening Tolerances to Improve Costs and Lead Times
High-precision parts with tight tolerances take longer to machine, requiring numerous precision machining operations and, in some cases, secondary finishing processes like grinding, honing, or lapping.
By loosening a part’s tolerances, customers can reduce manufacturing time, resulting in cost savings.
Although there’s an inclination to design parts with the tightest tolerances possible to ensure functionality, we advise customers to conduct research and development for each new part to ensure they aren’t over-tolerancing unnecessarily. We’re big believers in research and development here at Peerless Precision and are always happy to help with that process.
But this recommendation doesn’t only apply for prototypes and new designs. There’s also value in revisiting parts that have already been in production. Something as simple as measuring existing parts can provide helpful information regarding your part’s tolerances.
Recently, one of our customers measured a part made by another vendor that they wanted to transfer to us. They found that while the parts in their inventory didn’t meet their design specifications, they still functioned properly. This discovery proved that they’d over-toleranced the part and indicated that they could save money on future runs by adjusting their design. We worked with them to loosen their tolerances and create a more budget-friendly part without compromising functionality.
Whether your parts need the tightest tolerances imaginable or slightly looser ones, you’ll find a great precision machining partner in Peerless Precision. Request a quote today!