Categories
CNC Machining

5 Tips on How to Choose a Machine Shop

Good relationships are vital to the heart of all business. If you require a custom piece of machinery, you need to trust the shop that is in charge of manufacturing. Choosing a machine shop that is right for you can be the start of a valuable business relationship. 

With options available, it can be overwhelming to find a shop to meet your needs. The key to choosing the shop that’s right for you is setting your expectations first. 

In this blog post, you will find tips on choosing a machine shop that will put you first. Not only that, but you will have the machinery and skills needed to give you the product you deserve. 

Elemet Manufacturing specializes in metal turning services throughout the United States. Contact us today! 

machine shop

Choose a Machine Shop 

It is worth reiterating that any new business relationship should be researched and cautiously entered. Here are some of our tips to get the very best work available when looking for a reliable machine shop.

1. Reputation 

Good old-fashioned online reviews are an excellent way to begin your dive into a shop’s reputation. Not just paying attention to the rating given, but the comments left can also go a long way into giving you a peek into how they treat customers. 

It would help if you also remembered that one bad review out of several does not mean that you’ve found a lousy shop. You may want to research what clients they have had and possibly how long that relationship lasted. 

Longer relationships with customers can be a display of a great working relationship.

Word of mouth is also valuable. If you know someone that has used the shop you’re considering, ask them about their experience. You may also get to see firsthand the work completed. 

A high customer turnover rate or a lack of reviews can be a sign to proceed with caution. In most circumstances, clients will often want to praise good work. It’s a nod to the service received and a connection from one good business to another.

2 men watching CNC maching

2. Are their cards on the table?

When you have a meeting or consultation with the machine shop of your choice, you should be on the lookout for transparency. 

A good shop should share the following without hesitation: 

  • The shop’s failure rate and how they plan to fix errors. All shops have this rate, and owners should not hide it. 
  • Certifications: Certain skillsets and machine operations require certificates. Those should be available upon request. 
  • Have they dealt with a variance of projects and quantities in their shop?
  • They should have a plan on how to handle modifications if they are requested. 

No shop is perfect, and they should tell you how they deal with setbacks with production. Also, if they can do your job from start to finish. 

3. They have the right tools for your job.

Whatever your needs, the shop taking on your project should be able to do the job from start to finish. Before your initial meeting, consider researching the necessary machines for your job. 

Only doing part of the job and then going to another shop to finish can result in work that is not consistent and can waste time. It can also unknowingly increase your budget and draw out your timeline. Time is money, and needing both can throw a wrench into your plans. 

Upon your first meeting with the potential machine shop, they should tell you if your entire project can be completed in-house. 

4. Investing in the future and education are essential.

Shops that invest in their future plan on sticking around, often shown through certifications and having proper machinery. Having the correct credentials for machinists and up-to-date machinery shows they believe in their product.

Ask your contact what machines they have on the floor and if those same tools are used on the production and prototype runs. If they are not, then ask why and how does that change the product?

Certifications are also a good indicator of the priorities and quality of a shop. The certifications not only ensure that machinists know what they’re doing but that they will invest in their team.

5. Care and communication

No matter what the project or business, communication is vital. Going a step further, you should also feel that they care. The person set as your contact should be able to explain what is going on with your project at any time. 

If an issue arises, your representative should contact you promptly with how they will solve that issue. Online reviews and testimonials should speak to how well or poorly a shop has matters handled. 

The representative handling your project should also be well versed in what their shop offers. For example, Elemet offers laser and water jet cutting. Our representatives can explain the pros and cons of each as well as the differences

It is their job to guide you through the process of your project and provide transparency. In an ideal setting, this would include having one contact who knows your project. Having too many hands in the project can lead to confusion. 

male using machine shop tools

Putting it Together

As we’ve stated, choosing a machine shop isn’t a choice to be taken lightly. It’s a relationship that can last a long time, hopefully helping you invest in your ventures. 

Precision Waterjet Concepts and Aitkin Iron Works have joined forces to create Elemet Manufacturing. This merge has brought forward a shop that offers: 

  • Waterjet cutting
  • Welding 
  • CNC Machining
  • Metal fabrication and cutting services

Although we call Aitkin, Minnesota our home, we happily ship nationwide across the United States. Elemet Manufacturing has prided itself by specializing in precision work and putting our clients first. Contact us for a free quote; we can’t wait to work with you. 

 

Categories
CNC Machining

An Introduction To CNC Machining Services

Fifty years ago, machinists were responsible for crafting every single manufactured piece to perfection, and these hand-crafting skills are still needed today. But when it comes to producing the same piece at high volume and with high precision, computerized machines are vastly superior. That’s where CNC machining services enter the picture.

At Elemet Manufacturing, Inc., our experienced machinists and drafting technicians carefully match our technology with your design needs from beginning to end. We promise our CNC machining services meet the highest-quality and most efficient standards.

Our CNC machining center can handle tapping, drilling, countersinking, and other operations – all in one shop. Contact us today!

What Is CNC Machining?

A (Very) Brief History

John T. Parsons is considered the pioneer of “numerical controls,” the precursor to today’s CNC machines. Parsons needed to manufacture complex helicopter blades and quickly realized that the future of manufacturing was connecting devices to computers. Parsons was dubbed “The Father of the Second Industrial Revolution” to work on these controls.

CNC Machining Today

Today, we find CNC-manufactured parts in practically every industry.

The term “CNC Machining” is commonly used in industrial and manufacturing applications, but precisely what is a CNC machine?

CNC machining systems use computers to run programs that control how they shape or finish the desired parts.

These CNC programs can control everything from the machine’s motions to spindle speed, turning coolant on or off, and much more. Manufacturers can use this technology to perform a range of complex processes, including grinding, routing, milling, punching, turning, and lathing. With CNC machining, machine shops can accomplish complex three-dimensional cutting tasks with a single set of prompts.

Most people choose machined parts when manufacturing requires high precision, high quality, or when the materials are particularly tough and hard to work. CNC machining services revolutionized the manufacturing industry in the 1960s and is the most used method today.

CNC machining is suitable for various industries, including aerospace, agriculture, and construction. It can produce multiple products, such as airplane engines, automobile frames, garden tools, hand tools, and surgical equipment.

The process encompasses several different computer-controlled machining operations — including mechanical, chemical, electrical, and thermal processes, removing the necessary material from the workpiece to produce a custom-designed part or product.

What Are The Different Types Of CNC Machines Used In A Machining Shop?

The earliest numerical control machines date back to the 1940s when motors controlled the manufacturing tools’ movement. As these technologies advanced, engineers enhanced these mechanisms. First with analog computers, and then ultimately with digital computers, leading to today’s CNC machining.

The vast majority of today’s CNC machining arsenals are entirely electronic. Some of the most common CNC-operated processes include ultrasonic welding, hole-punching, and laser cutting.

The most frequently used machines in today’s CNC machining systems include the following:

CNC Mills

Milling is a process that employs rotating multipoint cutting tools to remove material from a workpiece. The CNC milling machine typically feeds the workpiece against the cutting tool in the same direction as the cutting tool’s rotation.

Basic mills consist of a three-axis (X, Y, and Z) system. Most newer mills are more advanced and can accommodate three additional axes. Some of the more common CNC-operated capabilities include hole-punching, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding.

CNC Lathes

In lathe machines, the workpieces are cut in a circular direction. With CNC technology, cuts are made with precision and high velocity.

CNC lathes produce intricate designs that wouldn’t be possible on manually run versions of the machine. The control functions of CNC mills and CNC lathes are similar. However, most CNC lathes consist of only two axes — X and Z.

Plasma Cutters

In a plasma cutter, the material is cut with a plasma torch. This process is generally applied on metal materials but can also be employed on other substrates. The plasma is created through compressed-air gas and electrical arcs to cut metal, producing the necessary speed and heat.

Waterjet Cutters

In CNC machining, waterjets are machining tools that cut hard materials, such as granite and metal. These cuts can happen with high-pressure water applications or, in some cases, the water is mixed with sand or some other potent abrasive substance. This process shapes many factory machine parts.

Waterjets are a cooler-temperature alternative for materials that cannot bear the heat-intensive processes of other CNC machines. Waterjets are used in various sectors, such as the aerospace and mining industries, where the process is powerful enough for carving and cutting.

Waterjets are also used for applications that require intricate cuts in material.

CNC Drills

Drilling is a machining process that employs multipoint drill bits to produce cylindrical holes in the workpiece. The CNC drilling machine feeds the rotating drill bit perpendicular to the workpiece’s surface.

CNC Turning Machines

Turning is a machining process that employs cutting tools to remove material from a rotating workpiece. The CNC machine – typically a lathe or turning machine – feeds the cutting tool linearly along the rotating workpiece’s surface.

It removes the material around the circumference until the desired diameter is achieved. Turning produces cylindrical parts with external and internal features, such as slots, tapers, and threads.

How Do CNC Machines Make Parts?

cnc-machining-services-03

CNC machine systems make it possible to program the machining tools’ speed and position and run them via software in repetitive, predictable cycles. This can all happen with little to no involvement from the machine’s human technicians.

Best of all, CNC machining services are by no means static since newer prompts can be added to pre-existing programs through revised code.

A very simplified peek into the process looks like this:

#1 – Design The Ideal Part

Designers use CAD software to design a 2-D or 3-D model of the part you need. CAD stands for “Computer Aided Drafting.” Therefore, CAD software is like drawing software that lets you precisely specify the dimensions for each part you need.

The optimal material for a CNC manufacturing application is mainly dependent on the particular application and its specifications. Most materials can be used, provided that they can withstand the machining process. This is demonstrated with sufficient hardness, tensile strength, shear strength, and chemical and temperature resistance.

The workpiece’s physical properties determine the cutting feed rate, depth of cut, and optimal cutting speed.

  • Cutting speed refers to how fast the machine’s tool cuts into or removes material from the workpiece, measured in “surface feet per minute.”
  • The feed rate calculates how quickly the workpiece feeds towards the machine tool in inches per minute.
  • Cut depth is how deep the tool cuts into the piece.

Typically, each workpiece will first undergo an initial manufacturing phase. It is measured to the approximate, custom-designed shape and dimensions. The workpiece undertakes a finishing step in which it experiences slower feed rates and shallower cut depths to achieve its more precise and accurate specifications.

#2 – CNC Programming

Engineers then use CAM software to convert the CAD model into a “g-code.” G-code is the language used to program the CAD model design into a CNC machining system.

#3 – Machine Setup

In this third step, the machine sets with work-holding, proper tooling, and the g-code program and tool data; loaded to prepare the machine to manufacture the part.

As part of this setup, the operator will also need to tell the machine where “Part Zero” is. Part Zero refers to the axis position that corresponds to 0, 0, 0 in the part’s CAD model.

After the program is inputted and the material is chosen, the operator gives it a “trial run” (or creates a prototype) to ensure no mistakes are present in the coding.

#4 – Machining The Parts

With the programming done and the machine set up, it’s time to manufacture the parts.

cnc-machining-services-02

Advantages Of CNC Machining Services

As with the birth of any new technology, we must anticipate shifts and adjust to meet new challenges. This has never been more true in the manufacturing industry, as manufacturing and automation advancement and 3-D printing continue to progress.

Increased Productivity & Efficiency With Continual Use

Unlike manual labor, CNC machinery (of course, barring any malfunction or maintenance issue) can work continuously over an extended period without a break. This dramatically increases productivity and efficiency.

Consistency, Precision, & Redundancy

Through computer software, the design of any given product only needs to be fully programmed once. The manufacturing machine can then perfectly replicate that design for any order quantity. Adjustments made with programming require little to no effort to perfect any part.

Fewer Personnel

Because computer software controls CNC machining services, fewer technicians are needed for operation and oversight, cutting overall expenses.

Flexibility

The software can be reprogrammed quickly and efficiently to produce many parts, allowing operations to keep up with shifting customer needs and demands.

Capability

CNC technology uses computer precision to go beyond the limitations of manual drafting and crafting capabilities. More complex and intricate operations are also possible with CNC machining.

cnc-machining-services-04

Why Work With A CNC Machining Shop?

Extreme precision demands CNC machining.

There’s no easy way to describe the benefits of high-quality, precision machining and its importance in today’s manufacturing economy.

While conventional machining methods are acceptable for some industries, other industries require tolerances of +/- .001″ or tighter. Often, thousands or tens of thousands of identical parts are needed for a single order. This need is close to impossible without CNC’s repeatability.

Any industry that relies on precisely-machined parts uses CNC machining services to create custom machined parts from raw materials, fabrications, or castings into individual components.

At Elemet Manufacturing, Inc., our experienced machinists and drafting technicians carefully match our technology with your design needs from beginning to end.

You can rely on our CNC machining processes to meet the highest-quality and most efficient standards. Our CNC machining center can handle tapping, drilling, countersinking, and other operations – all in one shop. Contact us today!