High-Volume Production vs. Low-Volume Production

Let’s explore the key principles of high-volume production and discuss all the numbers, pros, and cons behind it.

What Is High-Volume Production?

In essence, high-volume production is the ability to mass-produce products or parts quickly and efficiently.

Low-Volume Production

  • 1-10,000 parts per year
  • Short lead times and low setup costs

Mid-Volume Production

  • Less than 10,000 or 50,000 parts per year
  • Moderate lead times and setup costs

High-Volume Production

  • Greater than 50,000 parts per year
  • Moderate lead times and setup costs

Difference Between High-Volume and Low-Volume Production

Context is important when defining what is considered to be low-volume or high-volume production. It boils down to the fact that different manufacturing processes are more cost-effective at a certain level of production than others. 

Other important factors that impact production cost at volume are:

  • Setup time
  • Adaptability to implement design changes
  • Precision and accuracy of producing the part at volume

High-Volume Production

High-volume production is ideal for products that are in high demand, such as commodities. Companies trying to make a prototype or product and quickly mass-produce it to meet market demand will find the most use (and resource savings) from manufacturing in high volumes.

Unit costs are significantly less expensive than low-volume production unit costs. For example, you may be looking at $700 per unit for low-volume, but only $0.02 per unit for high-volume.


  • Quick turnaround time
  • Ideal for large orders
  • Manufacturers can meet more of market demand
  • Greater ROI due to saving on production costs


  • Inflexibility with things like design changes
  • Limited production capacity
  • Not ideal for small orders
  • Require a large amount of resources with traditional manufacturing

Low-Volume Production

Low-volume production is excellent for small businesses or businesses that are introducing a new product slowly into the market. This production volume is generally used for prototypes and custom or limited-edition products.


  • Lower minimum order quantities
  • Lower overhead costs
  • Less material waste
  • Greater flexibility with iterative changes
  • Fast prototyping of different designs


  • Higher unit costs
  • Longer lead times
  • Limited production capacity
  • Inability to respond to high market demand
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