A practical checklist filled with useful tips to help you choose the right CNC machining service partner.
CNC machining is one of the most widely used industrial manufacturing processes, but that doesn’t mean that every company that manufacturers a product has a CNC machine in house. That is because of the existence of many professional CNC machining services and shops, which take orders for prototypes and end-use parts, manufacture them and deliver them directly.
There are a couple of key reasons why CNC machining services exist and why working with them can actually be beneficial. The primary reason is cost. As sophisticated manufacturing systems, CNC machines are expensive—not only to buy, but to maintain and operate. Moreover, the accompanying equipment—like finishing systems and other industrial tools—also require a significant investment. These big purchases can be avoided by working with an external CNC machine shop, such as RapidDirect, which house state-of-the-art machines whose high costs are more rapidly amortized.
The second key benefit of employing a rapid prototyping or CNC machining service has to do with labor. Cost isn’t the only hurdle for companies seeking to adopt CNC machining. The advanced machinery also requires expert operators who are trained to use CNC machines. For small or medium-sized companies, especially, hiring a CNC machining expert (or several) to handle the CNC operations is not viable, as they do not have the resources to hire an expert or to train existing staff. Working with a CNC machine shop guarantees that you are getting an expert service. Like many things, it is sometimes best to leave CNC machining up to the professionals.
A checklist for finding the right CNC machining partner
With the benefits of working with a CNC machining service being clear, the next step is to choose which CNC shop to work with. Going through and selecting the right CNC machining partner can seem like a daunting task, so here are a few helpful tips that can ease the process.
When considering a CNC machining service partner, one of the most important things to look for is experience. How long has the CNC machine shop been in operation? Typically, companies with a longer standing in the manufacturing industry have a reputation to uphold. Shenzhen-based RapidDirect, for instance, has been in the industry for over a decade and its extensive experience backs up each project it undertakes.
The next thing you’ll want to think about is the CNC machining service’s production capacity. In other words, how big its facility is, how many machines it operates and how many skilled technicians it employs. Knowing this gives an indication of the scale of the operation and lets you know whether the CNC machining service will be able to handle your project along with its other clients’ work. RapidDirect operates a 20,000-square-meter facility equipped with state-of-the-art CNC machines and supporting equipment. The company’s manufacturing operations are supported by a team of 150 professional engineers.
Another good indication of whether to work with a particular CNC machining shop is to look at its past and existing clients. A rapid prototyping service that has worked with well established, recognizable companies might be more reliable than one with an undisclosed client list. RapidDirect has proudly worked with high profile clients such as NASA, Emirates, Nikon and Mercedes.
When choosing a partner for anything, it is important to establish a good rapport. On your search for the ideal CNC machining service, it is a good idea to reach out to your top choices to see how you engage and communicate with them. Here, you’re looking for rapid, friendly and above all helpful responses to your queries. At RapidDirect, customer interactions are a priority, as is transparency during the production process.
Tools and materials
This goes without saying, but if you are searching for a specific CNC machining capability or material, it is a good idea to make sure that the CNC machining service you choose has them readily available. CNC tools and materials should be clearly listed on the service’s website or for extra assurance you can get in touch directly with the service. RapidDirect offers a broad selection of metals and plastics for CNC machining as well as an array of CNC machine tools.
Cost and turnaround times
Last but not least, you’ll want to make sure that the CNC machine shop you choose can work at a competitive price point and within the timeframe you need for a given project. If you have a flexible budget and schedule, this may not be as critical. But in most cases, it is of the utmost importance to have parts delivered as soon as possible, as other steps in your production cycle might be on hold. With our automated quoting engine, RapidDirect issues quotes in under an hour and promises turnaround times for CNC parts in as little as three days.
Importance of choosing the right CNC machining service
Finding the right CNC manufacturing service is very important and can, admittedly, take some time and legwork. Once you have found the right manufacturing partner, however, it should be smooth sailing. Having a CNC machining partner you can trust and rely on to produce your prototypes and products is truly invaluable.