Four Occasions when Handmade is better than CNC

Henry Ford developed his mass assembly production lines and The Toyota Way led the way into lean production and, pretty much ever since, machines have produced highly accurate products much faster than they can be done by hand. Developing a process means individual actions happen much faster and result in products being produced quickly and cheaply. However there is still the need for handmade products within engineering.  These are the four key areas where we believe handmade is the better option…


There always has to be a first product. A prototype is, by definition, “a first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed.” A mass production process cannot be finalised until the final product is developed, meaning all prototypes will be built by hand.

As prototypes are developed, changes need to happen to overcome issues identified during the build process or through user testing. It doesn’t make sense to develop tooling that will only be used once – especially when you’re not actually sure what tools are needed.

One-off Products

When the plan is to only ever make one item, it doesn’t make sense to develop tooling and processes. Whilst machines may be used to make individual parts (not every part of every machine is unique), the assembly and final finish will be done by hand.

Short Runs

Developing tooling for a mass production run is expensive and takes time. In much the same way that a prototype or one-off product is better produced by hand, short runs are almost always more cost effective if they are produced by hand.  The tolerances won’t be any different. We regularly produce work where tolerances are measured in 1/100th of a mm.


Metal is a tactile material. In the same way that many people like to touch and feel wood, people like to run their hands over metal products, whether they’re made in steel, aluminium or other metals. Something made by hand encourages people to touch. They appreciate the time that’s been taken to produce something.

AG Major has made some wonderful one-offs recently. Everything from a noodle extruding machine to display stands. Whether you need a prototype making to ensure that it does what you need it to do (before moving into mass production) or you are looking for a short run product, give us a call or click here.