Ordering parts from a machine shop is a much more complex process than you might think. If you don’t make an educated and well-researched decision when hiring one, you will end up with loads of problems. Before hiring a machine to produce your parts, you should consider a few factors first. Not only this, you have to make sure that you have everything in place as well.
Not sure what to consider or what to get into place? Let’s have a closer look at 9 things you have to keep in mind before hiring someone.
- Tolerance Specifications
To ensure that the part you are manufacturing will work as intended, you have to make sure that the tolerance specifications are spot on. When your project demands intense exactness and precision, setting correct tolerances is immensely important.
Tolerance basically refers to the measurement range and can be measured to a third of a decimal. Making sure that the measurements are accurate to a ten-thousandth of an inch, will ultimately guarantee success of your product.
Giving only general measurements can confuse the artisan and impact the price. A product with a general tolerance measured to a ten-thousandths of an inch like 0.020’’ can be made using a water jet. Water jet are much more cost-effective than using a CNC milled machine. Products with general tolerances of up to two-thousandths of an inch like 0.002’’ might require the use of a CNC. Ultimately affecting the price.
Knowing the exact measurements will allow the machine shop to give you a more accurate quote.
- Roughness Specification
After confirming the tolerance, you should also look into roughness specifications. This refers to the points and dips on the product’s surface that can only be seen on a microscopic level.
A surface roughness of Ra125 is a cheaper option when deciding on numbers. For smoother surfaces, you can consider a Ra32 or Ra63 rating. For extremely polished parts you should go down to a Ra16 or even less. The lower the roughness specification the more expensive the job will end up being.
- Abilities and Equipment of the Machine Shop
In order for any machine shop to be able to create a decent prototype, they will need to have the right kind of equipment and tools. You have to make sure that the company has all the necessary machines to be able to perform the task. Not only equipment but also qualified artisans who control the machines. A quality machine shop like Dyson Corp. will have the materials, equipment, and personnel needed to fabricate what you need.
Learn more about the kind of tools that are inside a machine shop here: https://www.theclintoncourier.net/2020/02/12/what-kind-of-tools-are-in-a-machine-shop/
- Material Choice
To reduce production costs, you have to consider a few things before deciding on a material type. Machine shops will usually have a few options available ranging from plastic to aluminum. There is a misconception that stainless steel parts cost much less because they are cheaper per kilogram compared to aluminum.
As a matter of fact, aluminum is much less dense than stainless steel alloys. Making it much easier to work with. Machine shops will charge more for materials that are rougher on their equipment and tools. It will be smart to ask about different material options.
Then, you should also try and be flexible with the kind of materials you eventually pick. Sometimes, machine shops won’t have the specific material in stock. Either you are going to have to wait until they have, or you will have to opt for an alternative.
Have a few material choices in mind and let the shop know if they can go ahead with any of your secondary choices.
- Design with Care
Being a designer or maker gives you the great ability to create amazing parts that can change industries. While designing on a computer, you have to consider the entire manufacturing process. Neglecting to keep in mind what kind of machines will be used will have a great effect on costs.
- Get a Prototype First
Before giving the green light to the machine shop in producing thousands of parts, you should request and test a prototype first. Prototypes can be manufactured using different kinds of cheaper materials. This will allow you to confirm the design before continuing to mass production.
- One-off Part
When requesting one or two prototypes, you have to be prepared to pay a bit more. The machine shop will have to set up the CNC mill which can cost as little as $100, excluding the price of the part. Even though the part in itself costs only $1, you are going to have to pay a bit more for the initial prototype.
This will be worth it since you don’t want to end up with thousands of cheap parts that can’t be used because you didn’t test a prototype first.
- Discuss the Fine Print
In the end, customers would like the best quality work at an affordable and fair price. This is why you really have to sit down and discuss everything with the prototype machine shop. There is a slight chance that the process might not go according to plan, in this case, you wouldn’t want to be hit with a bunch of extra costs that you weren’t aware of.
Discuss your expectations and ask rather than assume. Don’t leave anything up for interpretation. Before signing the quote and agreeing to the terms, make sure that you understand all the terms and conditions.
This will give you a clear indication of current costs and possible extra costs going forward.
- Ask Recommendations
The best way to find a reliable and high-quality machine shop is by asking for recommendations. Consult other makers or machine shop owners and follow the advice of those who have been through the process already. Check the internet for legit reviews and ratings from previous clients.
Before submitting your design to a machine shop, do follow all of our expert tips in this article. They will most definitely save you a lot of time and money.