Our customer was asked to develop a decorative aluminum element to be featured in a prominent location in high-profile SUVs. This element was to be featured in commercials and other marketing efforts to support the launch of the vehicles. They attempted to make the aluminum component using traditional metal fabricating processes, but due to features necessary for the design, traditional metal cutting could not produce acceptable components. With time running out and vehicles launching in less than a year, they approached Switzer.
They asked us to use our chemical etching process to produce a component that not only looks perfect but to do it in an unheard of production timeline of just a few months. Since it is common to take two or three years to take a brand new design from idea to full production volume, this was a near-impossible challenge. Switzer was up to the challenge and able to complete a high-quality, high-volume product in just six months.
Chemically etching aluminum is extremely difficult. It is almost impossible to etch aluminum without leaving black carbon buildup in the etched features which is why many companies fail to produce a high-quality final product. Compounding this challenge was the tight production timeline, as well as the high-volumes needed for the program. Switzer was a natural fit to help solve this challenge because of our ability to etch aluminum and high-volume production capacity.
Our expertise and the specialized training our engineers go through gave us the confidence to embrace the challenge. We quickly produced samples that met our customer’s aesthetic requirements and gained the approval of the vehicle manufacturer. Once the samples were approved, our engineers were tasked with developing a method to scale up production and produce high volumes of these components without compromising the quality. We relied heavily on our 30 years of experience etching aluminum to direct us to a solution that was repeatable, predictable, and cost effective. Because of our experience with aluminum, we were able to go from low-volume prototypes to high-volume monthly production within only a few months. We were able to shorten this tedious process by 85%.
Just six months after our initial conversation, the product was already in vehicles being sold across the United States. This was only possible because of our expertise, responsiveness and capacity to scale production.