Many companies that need custom machined parts are not sure of the process of getting started with a machine shop supplier. In this post I will go over the basic process. As I talked about in a prior post about evaluating a precision machine shop, it is important be careful in selecting a supplier of custom made parts. In society today it is normal to simply go with the lowest price on pretty much any purchase. With the modernization of production, it is normally safe to assume that any product purchased will pretty much be the exact same no matter where it is purchased. With custom machine parts, it is important to ensure that the supplier is qualified and capable of making the part.
Large companies will spend a large amount of time vetting a new supplier that makes custom machined parts. Two recent companies that have started with CNC Industries, spent an average of 6 months in the process of examining our company before sending their first production purchase orders to us. In the process of examining our company the new customers looked at our production capabilities, our information management systems, our , and the custom machined parts that we have made in the past.
Now a small company will probably not have a team that is used to handling this process. Many small companies may never have had to order custom parts before. For those companies 6 months research of a new machine shop supplier is probably not an option that they can consider. In that case, an examination of the website of the potential supplier is worthwhile of course, but anyone can have a nice web presence. It is still possible to feel out a new machine shop without the lengthy process that large companies go through.
One way to start is to simply send out a Request For Quote (RFQ) to the machine shop in question. I would certainly recommend not simply going off of the price of the quote as the only determinate of which company to go with. After receiving the quotes, you will probably see a wide variety of prices come in. After getting these quotes call up a couple of machine shops from different price levels and ask to talk about how they are going to manufacture your part. You will be able to get a feel of the company by how they describe the process. Some questions to ask them:
- How did the come up with the price that they did?
- What engineering steps take place before manufacturing?
- What process control methods do they employ to ensure quality throughout manufacturing?
- How is their inspection done?
- Are they certified ISO or any other appropriate certification?
and one other that has been useful to many of our customers:
- Are there any changes to the part that the machine shop would recommend in order to lower production cost?
We have been able to save many of our customers considerable amount on their prices by making minor non-functional changes to the part to enable easier machining. Engineers that are focusing on assembly and pure functionality of the parts that they are designing may add features into a part that slow production time considerably but are not necessary to the functioning of the component (undercuts, overly tight tolerances, odd size material requirements, unusual material types etc)
Of course ask any other questions that you see appropriate. It is important that you feel comfortable working with the machine shop that you decide upon. Our philosophy is that the most important measure of a machine shop is that of customer satisfaction. We believe in what we call the 3 legged stool: Price, Quality and Customer Service. Each of these attributes contributes to the overall value of the precision machine shop.
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CNC Industries is a Fort Wayne, Indiana based machine shop specializing in precision CNC machining, fabrication and assembly of application-critical and custom machined parts for the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, Industrial and Transportation markets. The company presently employs approximately 55 people.
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