Manufacturing parts for the Aerospace and Defense industry requires not only technical expertise but also rigorous processes. What kind of processes? This article will outline the steps it takes to bring a custom spring to life, from when a customer first reaches out to us or sends out an RFP. This entire process is kept secure, managed by our data custodian to securely transmit information.
Steps to Manufacture a Custom Spring for Aerospace and Defense
1. Understand End Use
The first step in manufacturing a customer spring is understanding the end use either through an end-use form or initial conversations. There are many end uses for springs in the Aerospace and Defense industry—from shooting out missiles to improving the comfort of airplane seats. End use may affect export compliance, the exchange of technical data or shipment of the final product.
2. Consult on the Design
Once we know what our customer needs, we act as a consultant for the design of the work. As a manufacturer with AS9100 certification (which is required for working in the Aerospace and Defense industry), our customer is the design authority while we consult on the work. We call this process ‘concurrent engineering’ as we work closely with our customer’s design team for all the final checks and approvals on recommended designs. Sometimes a prototype may even be created for testing, and the customer may revise the design based on results.
To assist the customer in creating design specifications/prints, we consult on:
- Physical characteristics
- Loading characteristics
- Duty cycle (i.e. an airplane seat might have to withstand 1,000,000 cycles, while a missile only needs to cycle once)
3. Receive RFQ and Respond
Once the designs are approved, our customer submits their final RFQ for the custom spring. We respond with a detailed quote that includes pricing, estimated lead times, AS9100 requirements to which we adhere—among other things.
4. Win Contract/Receive PO
Our customer awards us the contract and sends us the purchase order. Then they provide us with technical documents via a secure portal for data transfer that complies with US Government CMMC requirements. Next, we dive into the contract review process.
5. Start the Contract Review and Quality Planning Process
The contract review process is a formal procedure with over 35 checklist items—often 20 pages in length—where we review each quality callout and requirement for the contract. Once we’re certain we’ve got all the specs covered, we put together the bill of materials, manufacturing routes and process controls. As part of Advanced Quality Planning (APQP), control plans are written for parts, and operators on the floor are given a list of items they will need to document to maintain control of part. We also establish a material control ID (MCID).
6. Purchase the Bill of Materials
Next, the bill of materials gets distributed to the Purchasing department where parts are purchased based on the specs the customer provides.
7. Plan Production Schedule
Once there is a date for receipt of material, our team starts to plan the production schedule based on when the materials come in. As materials are received, they are delivered to the department that will use them.
8. Begin Production
Spring manufacturing begins! Operators follow the engineering instructions and control plans to produce the springs.
9. Test and Inspect
To ensure springs meet Aerospace and Defense quality guidelines, a first article inspection is created. This involves going through a print and ballooning every detail to make sure all requirements are met on that print. Sometimes a source inspection from the Prime occurs—which may be digital or in person—to go through the first article as well as the inspection methods.
10. Ship the Parts
Once the Associated Spring quality inspector goes through and inspects the parts and ensures each part meets all flow-down and processing requirements, the parts are ready to ship.
Manufacture Custom Springs With Associated Spring
We have the process in place, we’re certified by all key regulators for the Aerospace and Defense industry and customers love to work with us. Tell us about your next custom spring project to get the ball rolling.