Having the right parts for your business is critical. From manufacturing to engineering, there are many reasons why you need to depend on the capable hands of a CNC machine shop. Not all shops manufacture using the same principles. As such, you’ll want to consider a few things before you hire a shop to work with.
Industries that are Served
CNC machining can be used in a number of different industries, ranging from power generation to aircraft manufacturing to oil fields. Although you may assume that CNC machining is the same regardless of the industry, you’re in, it’s important to look at where a particular shop’s experience lies.
If a shop is familiar with your industry, they’ll be able to provide you with more comprehensive recommendations.
Materials vary dramatically, and not all shops have the capability to work with some of the harder materials. Consider what you want your parts to be made of. Then, confirm that the shop has the ability to work with that material as well as the experience.
Some of the materials that may be used include:
- Carbon steel
- Alloy steel
- Stainless steel
- Nickel-based alloys
A good shop will also be able to educate you on the various alloys. This way, if you’re not sure which material you want for a specific part, they can offer recommendations based on the conditions it will be exposed to.
Level of Skill
The capabilities and skill level can vary from shop to shop. When you have an intricate design, you can’t trust it to just anyone.
The skills and tools needed for your project may not be available – mills, turns, drills, lathes. It can be comprehensive – and it’s up to you to ask the questions.
The milling machines being used need to have multiple axes. The more axes present, the more precision that can be offered so that the tools can move vertically and horizontally. Additionally, the size of your project will dictate the size of the machine table – or require manual machining.
Beyond the actual skill level and equipment on-site, it’s important to ask about the tolerance. The more precise your part needs to be against the design, the smaller the tolerance. Once you learn about a shop’s tolerance levels, you’ll find out everything you need to know about their capabilities.
Understanding the processes of a CNC machine shop will tell you several things. Not only will it tell you whether they’re capable of producing your current part needs but also any future ones. You should be looking at the ways in which you can establish a long-term relationship with a shop.
The processes should be clearly explained to you. Find out what they can and cannot do. Ask questions about the way in which things are done. By taking the added time to learn about their manufacturing process, you can be sure that your designs will be carried out properly.
Understand what goes into the programming, the actual computer cutting, as well as the finishing services that are offered. Quality assurance should be in place every step of the way. It’s the only way to guarantee that you get what you ask for.
Additionally, find out if they are ISO certified as it will ensure that the processes really do follow the highest quality standards.
When you have deadlines, the CNC machine shop you work with should be able to help you. While there is time involved to produce any part using CNC machinery, a shop should be able to work within specific deadlines that you provide for them.
Much of the turnaround time will have to do with labor, skill, and their flexibility to work with you. Be specific about what you demand in terms of tolerance and quantity. Then, find out what kind of timeframe the shop will need. If the shop says they cannot meet your timeline, don’t push them – you don’t want them to risk the tolerance in order to provide you with a subpar product.
The reputation of a CNC machine shop has to be considered. Ask a few questions to find out how they respond. They should be patient enough to answer your questions while guiding you through their processes. Any shop willing to fight for your business will treat you with the highest regard.
Learn about their reputation by reviewing online reviews, too. Find out what kind of experience other companies have had when dealing with the shop. You can learn a lot by reading reviews, including the transparency of the process, the way in which orders are handled, and the final product.
When you work with a shop that has a high reputation in the industry, it will make it easier for you to relax. You can be confident that the final product will be to your specifications.
While cost is not the only aspect to consider, it is an important one. After all, you don’t want to pay more than what is necessary. Although CNC machining can be expensive, it’s generally worth it. As you have more of the same part produced, the cost is also considerably more affordable. The simple reason is that one of the main costs is the computer layout component.
Ask for a cost and be sure that they are transparent. Don’t assume that anything is included. Be sure to get a full breakdown of the costs to ensure that it’s the full price that you’re expected to pay. If the costs are higher than you anticipated, don’t hesitate to discuss how you can reduce the costs. There may be ways to eliminate various design aspects or choose a different material to drop the costs.
Work with a Professional CNC Machine Shop Today
It’s important for you to do your due diligence when you require CNC machined parts. Choosing a professional shop is critical – and asking questions ensures you know what to expect. At Cliffe Metal Products, we have a reputation for providing on-time delivery of high-quality products at competitive prices. Contact us today to discuss your CNC machining products in detail.