The Power of Configurability: Why It’s Important in Manufacturing

8 min read

Custom or Standard.

When it comes to sourcing parts for any given application, choosing between fully custom or an off-the-shelf part are the only options.

But custom can be costly and comes with long lead times. And while off-the shelf (or standard) is cost-effective and fast, you have no control over a part’s features.

That’s where Configuration plays a role.

Oxford Dictionary defines Configuration as the below:

  1. an arrangement of parts or elements in a particular form, figure, or combination.
  2. the arrangement or set-up of the hardware and software that make up a computer system.
  3. the fixed three-dimensional relationship of the atoms in a molecule, defined by the bonds between them. Compare with conformation.
  4. another term for gestalt.

In our industry, configuration is applicable via definition 1. So that brings us to the question, what is MISUMI Configurability?

MISUMI Configuration vs. Standard Component Configuration

Between the worlds of custom and off the shelf, MISUMI Configurability is the best of both worlds.

Before we dive into what MISUMI’s configurability solution offers, let’s take a closer look at the two traditional “worlds” when it comes to component sourcing.

World 1: Custom Manufactured

In design, a component could be completely designed from scratch, and depending on the material required, it would need to be manufactured by a machine shop. There are many benefits to this process including getting the exact design.

However, many machine shops require minimum order quantities and some designs can take weeks or even months to manufacture.

Machine Shop

World 2: Off-the-Shelf Products

Off-the-shelf items can be products that are mass-produced with simple dimensional selections and can ship quickly as they are in stock.

Many designs encourage the use of off-the-shelf items so that the assembly can be completed quickly, or high-quality design is unnecessary. Budget could also be a factor.

Off-the-Shelf Components

Now that the world of custom machined parts and off-the-shelf have been explained, on to the power of MISUMI Configurability.

The Best of Both Worlds: MISUMI Configurability

MISUMI Configurability combines the best of both worlds by offering a level of control without the long lead times and higher costs.
Component configuration pulls from World 1 of custom with the ability to choose dimensions, materials, finishes, and shapes; and combines it with World 2 by getting components shipped in days instead of weeks or months.

MISUMI Configurability Model: Dimensions and Alterations

Like mentioned earlier, MISUMI’s configuration model makes it easy to choose dimensions, materials, finishes, and other features.

Although other sources may provide some standard configuration options, MISUMI’s configuration model takes it several steps further with the option to choose more specific dimensions and other alterations to fit your needs.

Here is a breakdown of how it works.

Choosing Specific Dimensions

MISUMI’s configuration solution allows you to choose the necessary dimensions.

Other sources may provide standard dimension configuration. For example, you can select the length of a linear shaft in perhaps 1 inch or even 0.5 inch increments. One would consider this standard configuration where increments are in whole numbers or just 1 decimal place.

But with the MISUMI world of configurability, you are able to choose some dimensions in 1 mm or even 0.01 inch increments.

What is an Alteration? Examples for Linear Shafts and Timing Pulleys

Diving even deeper into MISUMI configurability, MISUMI offers alterations.

Alterations are options for more component configurations beyond shapes, length, diameter, and thread sizes. They are more application-specific elements that can be selected on the component. For example, linear shafts have the below alterations available.

Set Screw Flat
V Groove
Tolerance Length Change
Retaining Ring Grooves

One of the leading features of these alterations is the ability to select where they are manufactured along the length of the shaft and even the size of the alteration.

Admittedly, there can be some manufacturing limitations to these alterations, but it gets you closer to your final design typically faster than a machine shop will.

Another example of a MISUMI configurable component are timing pulleys and they have the below alterations available.

Boss Cut
Flange Cut
Set Screw Angle
Side Tapped Hole
Side Through Hole
Single Flange

These alterations are typically manufactured on the hub of the timing pulley.

Configure Your Part Step by Step

MISUMI makes it easy to configure a part online fast. Here is an overview of the 4 simple steps:
1 – Select your part

2 – Choose your shape

3 – Input your dimensions and/or alterations

4 – Get your part number!

Sometimes designs and applications require both worlds which MISUMI is happy to assist with as we offer a variety of mechanical and electrical components in stock as well as our manufacturing side with our configurable components.

Learn more about MISUMI’s configurability model and how to configure components here.

About the Author

Carlicia Layosa

Carlicia is the Marketing Automation Manager at MISUMI. She holds a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Energy Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Certified SOLIDWORKS Associate, Marketo Certified Expert, and is passionate about education and training.

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