Industry Release, 2022

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What is Custom Valve Manufacturing? and versus Mass Produced Parts.

What is Custom Valve Manufacturing?

In the valve manufacturing world, there are two primary types of products – mass-produced stock items, also known as off-the-shelf products, and custom-manufactured items, where a customer can have a greater say in what they want. Valve Mass production came about as a consequence of the industrial revolution. What mass production offered to consumers was greater access to products of uniform quality at reduced prices. The tradeoff was that customers had less control over the exact details of the product that they received. As Fanovo’s president once said in regard to custom valve manufacturing, “our mission is to make the purchase of valve plumbing painless for global clients.” This quote underscores one of the key differences between mass-produced versus custom products – consumer choice. ­One of the ways in which mass production reduces costs is to develop valve processes that maximize efficiency. This objective is accomplished in part by reducing the need for human involvement and driving towards the standardization of design features, materials, and methods of production. The result of this drive to efficiency is less variability in product production. What mass production offers in gains to efficiency, custom manufacturing offers in craftsmanship and flexibility.

In this , we will explore more about custom metal manufacturing and examine how it differs from mass production, how custom valve manufacturers may be characterized, and what factors underlie the need for custom plumbing.


Mass Produced Valves&fittings

Mass-produced plumbing products tend to follow a Just-In-Time (JIT) business model, are typically manufactured in large quantities, and require massive automated assembly lines for production. All elements of the process, including the selection of materials and components, the assembly methods, and the test and measurement steps that monitor and assure quality and uniformity of the delivered products, are under tight control. Because of this emphasis on standardization, mass-produced production processes are not geared for customization and design changes. If changes are made, they are likely to be implemented across the board so as to impact all the valves that are fabricated from the production line, such as a design change to correct a defect or a process change that reduces costs or simplifies production.

Table 1 below contrasts the characteristics of mass production against those of custom manufacturing. As shown, mass production utilizes assembly lines and focuses on generating large quantities of products so as to achieve an economy of scale that lowers prices. Automated production reduces the amount of hands-on human involvement in the fabrication of each item, and also reduces human error. Because of the standard process and high production rates, design changes are not as easily implemented, and the end product has fewer customization options.

Table 1 – Contrast of Mass Production Versus Custom Manufacturing

Characteristic Mass Production Custom Manufacturing
Production Quantities Medium – Very Large Small
Process Automation Highly Automated Lower Automation
Human Involvement Machine driven with less human oversight Machine use with more human interaction
Labor Costs Lower Higher
Potential for Human Error Lower Higher
Design Change Implementation More difficult Easier
Inventory JIT/large inventory Build to order
Production time Lower Higher
Customization Limited options Unlimited
Human Involvement with each item produced Low High
Customer interaction Low High
Quality Assurance Lower Higher
Degree of Standardization Very High Low
Economy of Scale Very High Low
Costs Generally Lower Typically Higher


Custom Manufactured Valves&Pipes

Custom valve manufacturing, by contrast, is defined by its agility and ability to design, engineer, and manufacture unique valves that are meant to fit specific functions or applications. Unlike mass-produced products, custom-made valves are often produced in smaller quantities on a made-to-order basis. While machinery is still used in many processes, there is by its nature much less automation in custom manufacturing and greater reliance on a small team of engineers and machinists to fabricate, inspect, test, and deliver the products to the customer. Because the products are being made to the customer’s specifications, there will tend to be the need for more interaction between the manufacturing team and the customer during the production process, especially early on when requirements are being reviewed and process steps defined. Custom products can also naturally require a higher degree of quality assurance since what is important to inspect, measure, and test can vary from one valve to the next, making metrology less standard. The combination of these factors will generally mean that production times are longer and the degree of human involvement with each item produced is higher. The net result is generally higher costs that get reflected in a higher price for custom manufactured products.

Custom valve manufacturing in Fanovo is typically performed in smaller job shops, which implement a wide range of machining and fabrication operations. These operations include capabilities such as CNC machining, Swiss screw turning, casting dies, stamping, plasma cutting, waterjet cutting, welding, soldering, and more. Many of the machines that furnish job shops are specifically designed to simplify these production operations, but as mentioned earlier, the degree of automation found in a small job shop will likely be much lower than in the production line of a mass-production operation. So, at each step in the overall process, human involvement and control play a much larger role, which explains the longer production times and higher labor costs.

In addition to smaller batch production, custom valve manufacturer also tend to offer a suite of value-added services, which typically include services such as 3-D design assistance, engineering, and finishing operations. Fanovo also offer reverse engineering services, which is the process of deconstructing an object in order to understand its structure and how to build it from the constituent components. We have a high degree of expertise in metal manufacturing processes, and so can offer guidance around the options that are available when fabricating a product so that the most efficient and cost-effective process is used. They often play a key role in assisting with prototype designs and can work with entrepreneurs and inventors to take a raw design concept and modify it for manufacturability.


Choosing Custom Valve Manufacturing

Choosing to work with a custom valve manufacturer as opposed to utilizing a standard mass-produced or off-the-shelf product may be driven by any number of underlying factors. Those factors will vary depending on the type of product being considered, the market into which the product is being sold, and the customer’s needs/wishes.

Below are a few scenarios that help to illustrate where custom valve manufacturing is needed or preferred over mass-produced items.

Engineering factors

When selecting parts or components in the design of a valve system, engineers will typically seek to use standard off-the-shelf components. The reasons behind this decision are usually ones such as:

  1. Off-the-shelf components have known performance levels and usually have proven reliability, reducing risks.
  2. Using standard components eliminates any NRE (non-recurring engineering) costs associated with upfront design, tooling, or other activities.
  3. Unit costs will be lower from the use of less expensive components.
  4. Design time is reduced.

However, custom valves&fittings may be used in some cases for reasons such as:

  1. No existing valve&fittings can be found that meets the performance or applications of the customer.
  2. The form or fit of the product must match an existing design and no standard item exists with the required form or fit.


Customer factors

Customers often drive the decision to seek a custom valve manufacturer directly. A common use case of this type is with entrepreneurs or inventors that are seeking to create prototypes of their new product ideas. Creating a prototype or producing a short run of a new design are services in which custom manufacturers are skilled. They can also function in a consulting capacity to assist with transforming a functioning prototype into one that is better suited for manufacturing by selection materials or processes that improve throughput, reduce scrap, and drive down unit costs.



Custom metal valve manufacturing offers a pathway to satisfy needs that cannot be fulfilled by an off-the-shelf or mass-produced product in valve system. With a wide range of custom manufacturers available, it is important to understand their capabilities and match those against the needs dictated by your product design.

To start custom valve manufacturering, please contact Fanovo asking for their manufacturing and engineering capabilities.