How to Select a CNC Machining Service

December 5, 2018

 

Parts Manufactured by Challenge Engineering using CNC Machining Technology

 

Choosing the right CNC machining provider is an extremely critical decision that will have long lasting effects. These can be both positive and negative. The positive is building a long lasting and profitable relationship with a reliable machinist; and the negative is losing vast sums of money on poorly manufactured components.

 

The decision on which CNC machining service to use needs to be based on a set of stringent requirements as this will help eliminate any subjectivity in the process.

 

In this article we present 7 requirements that will help you choose the best CNC machining provider.

 

1. Customer Communication

 

Effective communication is one of the most important factors to consider. The lack of smooth communication can lead to misunderstandings that can result in huge losses for your company.

 

A prioritised customer communication culture means that you get quick responses to your queries, and if there is any uncertainty with regards to your components, that the machinist will contact you to clarify instead of machining on ill-informed assumptions.

 

A good way to judge a machining provider’s communication is by observing their response times when you make a request, and by testing their technical knowledge.

 

2. Samples or Prototype Parts

 

Before starting off on a large production run, it’s best to request a sample part to give a clear representation of capabilities. This will allow you to judge the technical proficiency of the machinist.

 

If you do not want to risk exposing your intellectual property, you can request the machinist sign a confidentiality agreement. This provides a low-cost way to test prospective CNC machinists.

 

3. Equipment

 

It is important to determine what equipment a machinist is using. You do not need to know everything about CNC machines to make a quick analysis of their equipment. For example:

 

  • Are the machines modern and in good condition?

  • Do they have CNC mills, lathes and grinders?

  • Do they have up to date, calibrated Metrology equipment for quality control?

 

A modern machine shop with advanced machinery indicates a company that is serious about manufacturing. If a company is not using advanced industrial equipment it is also an indication that they might not be able to handle large production volumes.

 

4. Design Support

 

Manufacturing a part is often very different from designing a part. Certain features might present the most efficient design but cannot be effectively machined. This is where DFM (Design for Manufacturing) principles come into play. 

 

A skilled machinist will assist you to ensure the part is not only easy to machine but can also be manufactured as cost effective as possible. The machinist will have far more experience in pointing out expensive features and possible flaws.

 

5. Experience

 

It is critical to choose a machinist who has a well-established track record of quality machining. This experience can come in the form of the company’s age and standing in the industry or the experience of key personnel.

 

It is unwise to entrust your large production runs to a start-up company. Companies like this tend to be desperate to prove themselves and might make unrealistic commitments to get your work. These can include faster than usual delivery times or very low prices. Whilst this might be desirable; coming from a young inexperienced company should at the very least raise a red flag.

 

6. Proximity

 

Although it may be tempting to outsource the manufacture of your parts to a foreign machinist, it may not be the best decision. Having a machinist who is locally based has numerous advantages. The most critical of these is the ability to visit the company to inspect its factory and to perform inspections before commencing production.

 

7. Quality

 

A well-established quality control procedure is non-negotiable. Especially when manufacturing large value/quantity parts. Ideally, a company should be compliant with ISO 9001:2015, this means that it has a strict quality management plan in place which includes the following:

  • Material inspections

  • In-Process quality checks

  • Completed parts inspection

  • Outgoing quality inspection

For the first part in the production run there should be milestones at all critical steps where you as the customer has the option of inspecting the quality of the part before it moves onto the next major operation.

 

In Conclusion

 

Finding the right CNC machinist should not be rushed and all the above factors need to be considered. If you take the time and do your homework, you will not need to look elsewhere in future for other machining work and can begin building a long-term relationship with your machinist. If done correctly this can be a one-off exercise that never needs to be repeated.

 

Challenge Engineering is an ISO 9001:2015 certified CNC machining company based in Sydney, Australia. We manufacture volume runs of metal and plastic parts for a range of industries. To find out more visit www.challengecnc.com.au.

 

 

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