Our Recipe for Success: Prototype, Low-to-medium Production, Deep-draw Stampings with Very Short Lead Times
By factorypipe | Oct 15, 2020
Factory Pipe’s specialty is providing prototype, low-to-medium production, deep-draw stampings with very short lead times. It is my personal belief, and as such a guiding principle for Factory Pipe, that this specialty meets an essential need in the motorsports industry.
Henry Ford sold more than 15 million Model T cars between 1909 and 1927, offering to make them “in any color you want as long as it’s black.” Today, even though the automotive industry is much larger than it was then, no car sells anywhere close to the yearly quantities of the Model T. And, of course, no car manufacturer today would ever dream of making the same vehicle for 18 years. Indeed, the Model T has outsold nearly every vehicle ever produced.
This says something about the very nature of markets, all markets. They always divide. Always. This is no secret to manufacturers who, in the 1960s, used to sell tens or even hundreds of thousands of units per year while making relatively few changes year to year. Now the market forces manufacturers in the motorsports industry to make improvements at a furious pace to dozens of models to stay competitive. Those that fail to recognize this do so at their peril.
Deep-draw stampings have long been an impediment to quick changes. Historically, production tooling for a new tune pipe, for example, could take as long as 20 weeks. These parts were often a pacing item for new models, and while the parts were relatively cheap, the tooling was very expensive and totally inflexible. This often drove design decisions, not just related to engine tuning but also chassis configuration, body shape and styling, and more. Clearly, there is a need for a short-lead-time, flexible, low-to-medium production supplier of deep-draw stampings such as those found on a two-stroke exhaust system.
Factory Pipe is exactly such a supplier.
Our clients can attest to our short lead time and flexibility. Further, while other vendors may provide process knowledge, the ability to provide a product according to a specific company’s designs, Factory Pipe is unique in our product knowledge. We know motorsports exhaust systems, particularly two-cycle exhaust systems. It’s what we’ve been doing for nearly 30 years.
That leaves cost.
Factory Pipe produces tooling for a small fraction of the cost of classic high-production, hard tooling and our tooling will run thousands of parts. That must be balanced against Factory Pipe’s higher price per part. Generally, you will find that the parts you stamp in-house will be cheaper per part than parts we stamp and 5-axis laser trim. As your quantities rise, you may find that this higher cost per part outweighs the cost savings you enjoyed on the tooling. The classic formula for total part price is to divide tooling cost by the parts to be run during the life of the tool, then adding the individual part price (i.e., tooling cost/ parts to be run during the life of the tool) + part price = total part price). This oversimplified, bean-counter logic ignores the value of flexibility. Being locked into expensive tooling puts you at risk of erroneous sales projections (and sales projections are always wrong), and it inhibits design changes required to stay competitive in the motorsports field. Further, when engineers find they need a change for fit, engine stability, or other reasons, and those changes always come, hard tooling in the works often force compromises nobody wants to, or can afford to, make.