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    Running a successful CNC machine shop isn’t easy. Not only does it take a staff of talented, dedicated experts but it also requires top-notch tools and state-of-the-art equipment. Unfortunately, those things can be extremely expensive to purchase and/or maintain. So, some shops consider the pros and cons of using new or used gear, and that’s generally a great idea.

    Used CNC machines and tools aren’t hard to come by. Facilities are always updating their inventories, which means startups can take advantage of reduced prices on well-maintained machines. However, it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages carefully before investing your money. Here’s what you need to know.

    What are the pros and cons of new CNC equipment?

    There are many pros to using brand new CNC machining gear, but that can make certain cons seem less noticeable. For example, unused equipment is far more expensive than anything with mileage on it. New stuff often costs more upfront but can also add a lot of value to projects on the backend.

    Meanwhile, the computer numerical control industry is booming and so are developments in manufacturing technology. Thus, better machining outcomes are typically possible when you use updated rigs. At the same time, these more advanced processes may require highly-trained experts to pull them off.

    Either way, you usually get more precision out of the newer models than the older ones. There are also fewer steps to follow because contemporary machines are typically outfitted with automated components. That means shorter lead times and less human error on crucial projects. And with expanded machining capabilities comes upgraded tools which, in turn, may cost your shop more money.

    On the bright side, using industry-leading techniques will likely drive sales through the roof. That increased profit margin can then be used to improve your facility on all fronts, whether for a fortified staff, better materials, or more room to manufacture parts for vital industries.

    What are the pros and cons of used CNC equipment?

    There are just as many pros and cons when it comes to using pre-owned CNC machining equipment. For instance, purchases are generally less expensive upfront, which is a good thing for shops that are struggling to expand. However, the equipment still isn’t cheap so it will require a hefty investment either way.

    Then there’s the problem with lagging technologies. Today’s manufacturing marketplace is replete with automation that runs off of precision software. Yet, some older equipment may not be compatible with new intuitive programming platforms. So, you could get a good machine and still not have what it takes to operate it efficiently. Plus, outdated equipment is often harder to learn for new machinists.

    That’s because used CNC machines and tools require more steps for project completion due to the overall lack of technological support. Thus, they make excellent teaching tools for beginners and can even allow newbies to make mistakes without ruining everything on the production floor.

    So, while pre-owned equipment has far fewer capabilities in terms of producing accurate parts at high speeds, they’re not always completely useless. Machine manufacturers may also reduce warranty coverages after a while, but certain brands are known for their product’s durability and longevity. As always, the way you maintain your facility plays a major role in how long your equipment lasts.

    How to choose better new or used CNC machines and tools

    DID YOU KNOW: Launching a startup CNC machine shop can cost several hundred thousand dollars, and that doesn’t include paying for staff, tools, facilities, and other needs.

    Deciding whether to purchase new or used CNC machining equipment can be tough. That’s not just because there are several different options and brands to choose from either. Other factors also play a role in which one is best for your facility. So, here’s how to make the right choice:

    #1. Understand your parameters.

    It may be tempting to buy a new machine because of its amazing capabilities, but make sure you have room for it in your shop. Some of these monstrosities can be enormous, plus they often require modernized software and a complete overhaul of your facility’s layout to fit in with what you already have.

    #2. Get to know your clients.

    Try to figure out what your typical client usually needs. Do you take orders from automotive, medical, or aerospace customers? Or do you handle mostly small manufacturing projects using low-yield machines? Better equipment typically means more available services, but it might mean getting certified to service new industries as well.

    #3. Create a budget.

    Since new tools and machines often cost a lot more than used equipment, it’s crucial to know your financial boundaries. Keep in mind that updated machinery may or may not incur higher energy costs at your facility. Plus, a machine’s maintenance requirements can differ widely, and so can the price of paying machinists to operate it.

    Remember, it’s your shop’s job to provide clients with the best possible service at the lowest price. So, if that takes buying brand new equipment then make it happen. However, you may be able to have it both ways if you purchase your used CNC tools and equipment from a machine shop that has taken steps to ensure longevity. In most cases, that’s a facility that constantly improves and/or expands its machining inventory to keep up with demands.

    For more information on how to choose between new or used CNC machines and tools, or to find out whether either option will work in your shop, reach out to an expert at Pioneer Cuts. Be sure to explain your target demographic, ask about updated software compatibility, and learn which industry regulations you’ll need to obey.

    The verdict

    Paying upfront for new CNC machining equipment may cost an exorbitant amount but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. At the same time, cost-effective machinery may fit the budget yet not quite suit your clientele. So, carefully consider the pros and cons of each and don’t be afraid to consult the experts for some good advice.

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