Manufacturing is making a comeback in North America. But downward pressure persists from offshore commodity suppliers so time & cost-saving is the nature of the game.
R&D for new products with improved features, in smaller packages in increasingly shorter time frames is, for many, the only answer to declining revenues.
Why choose custom-made versus standard parts?
Logically, the first step for a designer to control material costs is to source standard, off-the-shelf components. The belief is that settling for a standard part will provide initial cost-savings vs. the superior choice of a custom-made part that will better suit the application. While this may be the case from a basic purchasing perspective, there are a number of design issues that may challenge that "price-only" choice over the long-term. (Not to mention that "catalogue" parts are rarely "on-the-shelf" anymore.)
When it comes to magnetics, there are several factors to consider
Form and Fit: A Custom part expertly designed with consideration to dimensions, physical constraints and terminations will likely yield a much more effective solution rather than simply “settling” for a standard part that doesn't really fit. Unexpected time needed to rework a packaging layout can result in excessive design-cycle costs. Experienced magnetic designers have exposure to a wide range of materials and innovative methods to develop a part tailored to fit just right.
Function: Losses in a transformer or inductor due to ripple currents and harmonic content can cause unexpected over-heating. Weeks lost in waiting for delivery of a low-cost catalogue part followed by set-backs due to inadequate or even dangerous performance can put the development cycle of a new product into jeopardy.
Duty cycle: Expert attention given to intermittent operation duty cycle in a custom design generally results in a dramatically smaller, cooler and cost-effective part than originally estimated.
Expert Collaboration: Often, doing it yourself takes more time and leads to frustration. Working with a professional that is skillfully trained in the design of magnetics can offer invaluable insights and know-how that are just not available from that “order-taker” at the electrical distributor.
All in all, what appears to be short-term gain can result in long-term pain when it comes to procuring parts best suited to the application. Don’t just “settle”… Send us your specs and we'll give you a qualified quote! on a better design.