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The Manufacturing Process Explained

At a very high level, manufacturing is a process of steps used to turn raw materials into a final, sellable product. Even though this may seem like an easy to understand definition, manufacturing is anything but simple.

Few people stop to think about how the products they use and love came to be. Almost everything we use on a daily basis, from the desk chair you're sitting in to the tools you'll use to cook dinner, was made possible by a manufacturing process.

Every manufactured product was made using one of the five main manufacturing processes. Keep reading to find out more:

Casting

casting metal

Casting is the process of pouring molten material into an empty cavity to achieve a product of a uniform shape. If we think back to ancient times, casting was used to manufacture metal goods like weapons, dinnerware, or even jewelry. Having been around for thousands of years, casting is one of the oldest forms of a manufacturing process. Examples of casted products are:

  • Bronze statues
  • Brake drums
  • Toilets

Molding

The process of molding is similar to that of casting. The difference is we often associate molding with plastics, and casting with metals or ceramics. In molding, liquid plastic is fed into a mold to be shaped into one piece. Other products like a corrosion inhibitor can be used to keep the molding machines rust-free for better production. Just a few molded products are:

  • Plastic silverware
  • Light switches
  • Shoe soles

Forming/Shearing

Forming, and also shearing, is used to work material into the right size and shape for the job. When a product is sheared, it is trimmed down to the size it needs to be to serve its purpose. Forming is very similar to shearing, except with less cutting. When material is formed, it is usually bent or spun to achieve its final state. Products made with shearing or forming:

  • Paper
  • Sheet metal
  • Paper clips

Machining

We can think of machining as a combination of shearing and forming. These two processes come together to create a new one, referred to as machining. In this process, material is shaped to its appropriate size while being trimmed down at the same time. Machining can also include actions like drilling and finishing that aren't present in other processes. Some products made from machining:

  • Gears
  • Screws
  • Bits

Joining

The process of joining is exactly as it sounds. If a product cannot be produced in one piece using molding or casting, it needs to be jointed with its other parts somehow. Material is welded, soldered, or bonded together to achieve a desired outcome. In joining, other materials like pins or rivets can also be used to hold two separate parts together. These are a few things made with joining:

  • Eraser to pencil
  • Computer chip assembly
  • Construction of iron gate