Established industries thrive on dependable CNC machining services, which means facilities must own and operate top-of-the-line equipment to remain relevant. When the highest precision and premium quality parts matter most, shops with the best milling machines are generally the first point of contact.
However, choosing the right CNC milling machine can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. With so many options available, you have to consider a few things before spending your money. And since CNC machinery isn’t cheap, this isn’t anything to ignore.
What should you consider when buying a CNC milling machine?
Create a more streamlined approach regardless of your target demographic. Find multi-tasking milling machines with high-tech components for consistent precision and easier controls, even on projects with tight tolerance or complex geometries. Then, supplement certain processes with state-of-the-art software while you continually upgrade the other systems with new machines and expanded inventories.
Learn how to get it all done by mimicking the pros, and model your approach after successful, groundbreaking industry giants. Here are a dozen things to consider while you’re doing that:
1. The types of materials that will most likely get used in your facility
2. Which shapes and dimensions need to be produced
3. How much time it takes for small vs. large batch processing
4. The workspace available inside your facility
5. Tool size, table size, and tool change times required
6. The type of tool holders needed (and their availability)
7. Machine spindle power and cutting force
8. How much automation is required to complete the project
9. The total number of machining axes for production complexity
10. Whether the machine is compatible with existing CAD/CAM software
11. How many operations the machine can complete in one setting
12. The flexibility of the machine during downtimes and emergencies
It doesn’t matter whether you’re currently using manual machines and want to upgrade to something better or just looking to streamline your existing facility and serve specific industries. Diligence about your CNC milling machine purchases can make or break your reputation as a legitimate machine shop.
To find the best fit for your high-precision manufacturing projects, pay close attention to what your customers say. Feedback can tell you a lot about which type of milling machines they want in your facility. Also, study the industries you serve to determine which techniques they require the most, and don’t cut corners trying to accommodate that.
How to find the best CNC milling machine
For more information on how to pick out the best manufacturing machinery, talk to a professional machinist at Pioneer Cuts or consult a representative from the machine’s sales department. Then, follow these 5 simple steps to find exactly what you’re looking for:
#1. Get to know a few different machine brands.
Remain competitive in your field by getting familiar with the most popular milling machine brands. For example, Mazak machines are among the most expensive, but they have comprehensive features for programming and design. Meanwhile, Fadal machines are less expensive while still being durable. It all depends on what’s needed on the facility floor, how much capital you have in the budget, and how well the machine assimilates in your operation.
NOTE: Other notable brands may include HAAS, DMG Mori, and Okuma.
#2. Calculate the full cost of installment and operation.
Price is one of the most important factors when picking out a new CNC milling machine. Equipment installment and operation can cost quite a bit, especially if your facility handles large batch orders or projects requiring special certifications. Many machinists forget to consider the price of replacement parts and/or repairs too. So, understand that your machines will break down eventually, and make sure you can cover the costs when that happens.
NOTE: Sometimes, the price of the replacement parts is more important than the upfront cost of the machine.
#3. Make sure it does what you need it to do.
It may seem obvious but it’s crucial to see whether your new machine works as intended. However, innovative technologies and complex interfaces may make that difficult for some buyers. Retailers and vendors usually provide a walk-through when the customer is interested. But you might want to hire a qualified technician to check things out before spending any money because salespeople aren’t always forthcoming or knowledgeable enough to satisfy your curiosities.
NOTE: Look at the required maintenance steps and electronics to determine the machine’s legitimacy for your shop.
#4. Ensure it can be programmed properly.
This is one of the most common mistakes that shops make when they’re buying a new CNC milling machine. They end up purchasing something that’s not compatible with their existing programming software or skills, making the machine even harder to use than it already is. Beginner machinists typically work best with equipment that doesn’t require a ton of coding, while experienced machinists can get away with performing tasks on more complex machines.
TIP: Compare the programming requirements’ complexity to find a suitable machine for your crew.
#5. Ask a ton of questions.
Regardless of what you think you know about CNC milling machines or a specific brand, always ask plenty of questions before investing in a new piece of equipment. Research can only get you so far, and every rig is as unique as the machinist who’s operating it. Successful machine shops work hard to coordinate all aspects of machining for more accurate and on-time manufacturing. Many times, that meant they weren’t afraid to ask for help when they needed it.
TIP: Join an online machining forum, watching videos from pros, or let an expert at Pioneer Cuts show you the cutting edge.
Skilled machinists and state-of-the-art software are only half the battle when it comes to servicing a wide variety of important clients. So, whether your CNC machine shop is big or small, choosing the right milling machines can make a major difference in how many projects you turn away. To get more insights or find advice on the best milling machines for growing facilities, touch base with one of our gurus.