How do contract manufacturing companies operate?

Typically, contract manufacturing involves an outsourcing arrangement with another manufacturing firm for parts and products, which is then used for manufacturing services or processes, to complete its own product.

How AP Precision Handles San Diego Contract Manufacturing Services

Founded in 1998, AP Precision was created to fill a need for metal products in order to meet the demands of their growing robotics company. Twenty-three years later, AP Precision has progressed to offer an array of contract manufacturing services in San Diego. Their founding principle is quite simple: to provide stable, long-term, precision metal fabrication for businesses of all sizes and shapes throughout Southern California.

Because AP Precision is able to handle rapid production increases as well as expedited prototypes, they are able to offer a flexible production mode no matter the size of the client project! Additionally, AP Precision uses the highest quality materials and outside services sourced from the top American and Southern California companies.

Here’s what their menu of service offerings include:

Precision Metal Fabrication. This process involves the cutting, bending and formation of very precise pieces of metal through various techniques and machines which include welding, powder coating, and CNC press breaks. Think of it a bit like putting together a puzzle. The fabrication process is able to produce very specific parts used in a wide variety of industries such as:

  • Architectural
  • Computing
  • Robotics
  • Bio-Medical
  • Military
  • Power Generation
  • Consumer & Luxury Goods

Plate Cutting Services

Plate cutting involves the process of transforming metal (either in the form of a plate or sheet) into a project’s desired shape. Historically, this was once a very manual process. But with the development of CNC technology it’s possible to produce a cleaner, more accurate shape. There are an endless amount of things you can create with plate cutting, ranging from jewelry and automobile frames, to surgical equipment, airplane engines, and lawn tools.

Laser Cutting Systems

Laser cutting is a method which makes very precise incisions using a broad range of materials. This process is used to make almost anything you can imagine, from ornaments, signs, coasters, lamps and more.

Have a custom project in mind? Laser cutting is ideal for unique and creative gifts. Here’s how the process works:

Step 1. Your design idea is transformed into a graphic format which is then converted to a vector file.
Step 2. You choose the size, shape, and number of the designs you would like cut
Step 3. Thermal separation is used to make a cut at a predetermined depth. The depth ranges from light engraving to a full separation.

AP Precision specializes in laser cutting using the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Copper
  • Stainless Steel
  • Steel

Welding Services

AP Precision has many years of experience working not only within the robotics industry, but in designing and welding a range of custom products. They have deep expertise around fabricating components for leading US welding companies.

Some of these techniques include:

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG) — Precise and deeply penetrative weld, resulting in a versatile and clean weld.

Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG) — Fast, strong, and efficient, this weld technique is widely used in everything from bike frames and gate design to furniture and more.

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW, Stick) —This is a versatile go-to for all steel positions, whether big (like a bridge or skyscraper support) or small.

Powder Coating

When compared to traditional paint which might call for several coats, powder coating is a much faster, more efficient process. This method works by applying a dry powder electrostatically to a metal surface,which is then baked in an oven to finalize. The finished product is much thicker and tougher compared to conventional paint types. AP Precision has perfected this technique in-house and works closely with clients to determine the right color and texture for the project.

Brass Cutting

Brass has been used over the centuries for a huge range of applications. When it comes to brass cutting, choosing the best method depends upon a few factors: the format of the material, its thickness, and the final application of the finished product.

What is brass cutting used for?

Instrument making. Many musical instruments are made of brass to help create their signature acoustic sound.
Interior design. Interior designers as well as furniture makers and even architects enjoy the aesthetic addition of brass and brass alloys.
Restoration. Brass pieces are sometimes requested to restore lost or damaged features of vintage pieces.

In order to achieve these projects, the following techniques are used:

Non-Ferrous Rotary Brass Cutting — Specially formulated rotary blades are set up on specific work tables to cut brass sheets in a precise and clean manner.
Brass Cutting for Rod and Tube — This method ensures everything is cut to a precise length, with polished or reamed ends (this is preferred for architectural or plumbing industries)
Brass Laser Cutting — This newer metal fabrication technique leans on laser cutting and CNC machines to render highly-precise results (with almost no manual sanding required)

Copper Cutting. This technique is used for a wide range of applications, from small, detailed-oriented work required for jewelry design to the development of electronic components as well as architectural needs (such as handrails or piping.)


The process of working with copper is actually quite ancient. Humans have been manipulating copper since 8000 B.C., and overtime it was combined with other metals to create more versatile materials.

When combined with zinc, for example, it creates a sturdier alloy, known as bronze.

Later, another copper alloy was developed. Cupronickel, which is a durable, weather-resistant amalgam, blends copper and nickel. Initially, this was used to develop different coin currencies and to provide coating for architectural elements.

There are a range of copper cutting techniques and materials to fulfill an array of project types:

Copper Tubes. Tubing is cut with specialized tools or, in some cases, a hacksaw. For plumbing projects, in particular a clean cut without any burs is important to prevent leaks and noise.

Copper Sheet. Copper sheets are cut to size with either regular sheers, brake sheers or metal snips (for thinner sheets). This is a delicate, precise process which helps prevent damage and flux to the copper sheeting. The secret ingredient to making sure this is done right are specialized tools, and a certain expertise around the nuances of handling copper sheeting, which can be notoriously finicky.

Copper Laser Cutting. As mentioned previously, laser cutting techniques can be used with copper sheets to create custom projects and designs. This technique in particular simply cannot be done at home without risking damage and/or cross-metal contamination which is critical for both computer and medical device usage.
A variety of different industries use copper cutting, including:

Plumbing — Copper pipes and bars
Electronics — Wire, medical devices, computer parts
Architectural — Roofing elements, doors/handrails, decorative elements, gutters
Retail Design —Pendants, bracelets, necklaces, light fixtures,
Landscape Design — Decorative and sculptural elements
Gauges & Measuring Device Manufacturing — Calipers, protractors, micrometers
Medical Device Engineering & Design— Antimicrobial door handles and rails for hospitals and schools

About AP Precision Metal Partner Contract Manufacturing Services

In addition to the above, AP Precision Metal partners with a portfolio of high-quality US Suppliers in order to leverage the best materials and finishing processes. They work hand-in-hand with our vendors to help customers achieve their project goals. Some of the techniques and processes they partner to deliver include anodizing, bright annealed plating, chem film, custom packaging, passivation, sand blasting, silk-screening and zinc plating.

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