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Contract Manufacturing vs. Component Manufacturing: What’s the Difference?

by Last updated Apr 18, 2024 | Published on Jan 31, 2017Contract Manufacturing

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Although you have likely heard the terms contract manufacturing and component manufacturing before, many businesses do not completely understand the differences between the two. Although component manufacturing can often be included in contract manufacturing services, the terms should not be used interchangeably. Axenics offers both contract and component manufacturing services, and this post will explain how each is different.

Component Manufacturing

Component manufacturing references the individual manufacturing services utilized to produce individual components of a system. Component manufacturing refers to metal and plastic manufacturing services including simple weldments, manifolds and tube assemblies. Some manufacturing service providers are able to manufacture components with metals and plastics, and many can also build products to meet specifications.

1. Weldments

One the most common and widely used component manufacturing services is welding, due to its affordability and repeatability. Weldments can be performed on stainless steel and a variety of different types of plastic weldments, including: valves, solenoids, pneumatics, piping assemblies, and more. Many manufacturing service providers can produce weldments in various shapes and sizes of configurations.

2. Manifolds

Another common type of component manufacturing service is simple and complex manifolds. Manifolds can typically be produced in both stainless steel and several types of plastics. Manifold design and fabrication depends upon what it is being used for specifically, and often must be developed to meet any strict quality specifications and criteria required by a given industry.

3. Tube Assemblies

The third type of component manufacturing service is the development of tube assemblies, which can typically be performed with stainless steel, or with various types of plastics. They can be simple or complex. Metal tube assemblies are often produced for the semiconductor industry, and contain a combination of welded T’s and elbows.

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Contract Manufacturing

Contract manufacturing, on the other hand, typically refers to the production of simple and complex assemblies, gas boxes and gas delivery systems, as well as specialty piping kits for a variety of industrial applications. Common contract manufacturing assembly types include complex sub-assemblies, cleanroom assemblies, prototype assemblies, gas box assemblies and skid builds that include wiring and electrical components. Contract manufacturing services often save businesses a considerable amount of time, resources, and overall production costs.

1. Complex Assemblies

Complex assembly systems are projects which often involve a large number of parts, complicated processes, and/or testing. They may consist of various valves, regulators and fittings, and can typically be made in multiple configurations and quantities as needed.

With contract manufacturing, skilled technicians perform all of the tube bending, tube cutting, welding, assembling, testing, and certification for the complex assemblies. The systems are then tested to the specifications required by the customer, in addition to industry standard requirements.

2. Gas Panels

Another type of contract manufacturing service is the development of efficient handling systems for gas, liquid and chemical delivery. In many cases, custom subassemblies of complex gas boxes can often be designed to fit the specific needs of the customer.

3. Piping Kits

The third type of contract manufacturing service that is generally offered is specialty pipe and tubing kits for OEM manufacturing companies. Specialty plastic or metal piping kits can be designed specifically for use in the internal processes of various OEM’s systems. Contract manufacturers will often manufacture and also direct-ship the piping kits as additional service, which helps to decrease costs and ensure high purity levels are maintained.


Component manufacturing is often a one-time service, and/or specific to a particular component or system. Contract manufacturing, however, involves a more long-term relationship between a manufacturing partner and an OEM. With contract manufacturing, multiple components and systems are produced by the partner, and are sometimes shipped direct to the customer, creating cost, time and space savings for the OEM.

Learn the differences between assembly and manufacturing

And discover the benefits of a long-term partnership with a trusted contract manufacturer.

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