Choosing a quality CNC machining company is an important task. Considering there are nearly 20,000 different machine shops to choose from in the U.S. alone, finding the one that best fits your needs can seem daunting. To help you make an educated, strategic choice, we’ve outlined a few factors to keep in mind when looking for a CNC Machining supplier.
Find your ‘niche’
When choosing a CNC machining company, one of the most important things to consider is your product or project requirements. Not only do you want a CNC machine shop that works in your industry, but you also want to find one that aligns with the quantity of parts you need manufactured. A good place to start is to look at the prospect’s website. On their website, you can check their qualifications, their equipment, and their capabilities, as well as find galleries of parts that they’ve made in the past. Those galleries can help you learn more about the variety of components they handle and the materials they work with.
Once you have identified a few different prospects, you can contact each of them directly to learn more about them! Often the best way to learn about a machine shop is to discuss your project with them.
There are a few different types of machine shops to choose from, usually focused around the production volumes they handle, the industries they specialize in, and the materials they work with. You will want to match your industry and product to their capabilities to find the company that best aligns with your project needs. Let’s take a look at some general types of CNC machine shops. Keep in mind that outside these general types, there are a lot of niche shops that could be a better fit, depending on your project needs.
Types of CNC Machine Shops
Prototyping and R&D
Machine shops specializing in prototyping and research and development tend to produce small runs of multiple different products. These are general machine shops, open to a wide variety of customers, and aren’t limited to a specific industry.
Production shops are niche shops specializing in one to a few specific industries. They run 50-1000 piece orders and are very knowledgeable about the standards of their specialization and its unique requirements.
High Production & Automation shops
These shops handle large orders–starting at around 10,000 pieces but often going into the millions. High-production shops specialize in just one or two industries, doing large orders of simpler parts.
Some industries, such as Aerospace and Medical, have many barriers that manufacturing shops must overcome to be qualified to manufacture parts for them, such as industry-specific certifications. As a result, machine shops that manufacture products for these industries tend to specialize in just one or two of these industries.
Other industries, like the Automotive and Automotive Aftermarket industry, don’t have these ‘barriers to entry,’ allowing the shops that cater to them to spread out into smaller industries–such as firearms, hydraulics, and more. Knowing what industry your product fits in is just as important as the production volume of the part.
Certifications are mandatory for particular industries. These indicate that a trusted and experienced third party has verified that the manufacturer’s quality management system is in place and up to standard and that the manufacturer has the equipment and people to maintain the system.
Some major certifications to keep on the lookout for are:
- AS9100–This certification is required for Aerospace manufacturers. It also satisfies the guidelines set by NASA and the DOD, so many manufacturers in the Defense sector also have this certification.
- ISO 13485–This is the Medical industry’s most common and optimal regulatory certification for manufacturers of medical devices.
There are other essential certifications out there as well, such as ISO 9001, that you should keep in mind as you’re looking into manufacturing partners.
Customer approval becomes the next best thing to consider when it comes to manufacturers who don’t work in industries with specific certifications attached to them–like the Automotive market.
Many manufacturers have customer testimonials on their websites, or if they work for a large market like Automotive, a sampling of their customer base–especially if they’re partnered with one or more large companies. A broad customer base indicates that the company is trusted in the industry or the sectors where they supply CNC machining services. And having a good reputation among large, well-established companies is always a good indicator that the manufacturer is trusted in the market.
Other important factors to consider
The longevity of a CNC machining shop is another key factor to keep in mind. A shop that is well established and has been around for several decades indicates that the company not only has a lot of manufacturing experience but also shows its resilience over the years.
Also, consider the value, not just the purchase price set by the CNC machine shop. The price of the part is rarely the whole picture. Choosing the wrong shop can mean production delays and lower-quality products, which can cause the overall amount you pay for the project to increase significantly. On the other hand, choosing a shop that better fits your needs often means that you’ll receive better value for your money and a higher-quality product.
Are you looking for a supplier of CNC Machining services?
The Superior Thread Rolling Company was established in 1952, providing top-tier machining and thread-rolling services to a growing Aerospace industry. Over the years, we expanded our capabilities to offer our customers state-of-the-art precision machining facilities, growing into a well-established leader of CNC machining and Aerospace manufacturing for quick turnarounds and an excellent balance of pricing, quality, and performance.
For more information, contact us today!