When it comes to fabrication, you have options, and the option that will work for you depends on your current needs and long-term goals. Build to print and design and spec are two different types of contract manufacturing. To help you understand the differences, similarities, and benefits of these two processes, we have put together the following quick guide. 

What is build to print?

Build to print is a type of contract manufacturing that refers to the process of building products to client work instructions. This is commonly used to manufacture components or pieces of equipment. 

In the build-to-print process, a client will provide a product drawing that has been created by an engineer and contain exact specifications down to the millimeter. The design will also outline the necessary materials needed to create the product, and then the product is created. The manufacturer is then responsible for producing the product according to those drawings.  


Design and spec refers to the process of building products from scratch, according to a client's need, function, or size requirements. Design and spec can help clients develop solutions for the problems they have. After discussing the problem and coming up with a solution, the manufacturer will assist in designing and creating a product. In the design and spec process, manufacturers help clients see a project through from beginning to end. 


The key difference between build to print and design and spec is that you already have your design with build to print, and with design and spec, you do not. When you require design and spec services, you’re asking that a manufacturer assists with the creation of engineering drawings and plans.  

What are the benefits of each?

The main benefits of build to print are accuracy and efficiency. Once a client has their built to print designs, it will allow them to make repair pieces and build to specification quickly. For example, if they have an assembly line and a piece is broken, a replica piece can be quickly produced in order to prevent delays. The benefit to design and spec is when the specifics, measurements, and materials remain unknown, and a client needs assistance in determining what the most cost-effective options are.  

Why is Applied Engineering the right choice for either process?

Whether you are looking for built to print services or design and spec, you want to choose an experienced engineering team you can trust. At Applied Engineering, we work with you to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for. We are a contract manufacturing services company with over 30 years’ experience in providing total manufacturing solutions for our clients, including built to print and design and spec. 

As you can see, there are benefits to both processes. If you are looking to learn more about build to print and design and spec services, or need help determining which is best for you, reach out to Applied Engineering for more information.

Applied Engineering