If you’re frustrated because you haven’t found a reliable CNC turning shop yet, you’re not alone. There are several factors to consider and not all shops are the same. This is not an easy decision for anybody.
It helps when you know what to look for, though. And it gets even easier when you learn how to appreciate quality over quantity. After all, many CNC machining companies promise quick results, but accuracy is just as important.
What is CNC Turning?
Understanding what CNC turning is (and isn’t) will help narrow down your search for the best lathing business in your area. Here is a general definition of the technique to get you to start:
“a machining process using cutting tools such as non-rotary bits to create helix toolpaths through linear movements while the material rotates”
In other words, the term describes cutting actions over external surfaces. Do not confuse CNC turning with boring, as they’re two separate things. CNC boring cuts internal surfaces to create holes, while turning creates forms, faces, and defines outer edges. Both, however, are considered types of lathing.
DID YOU KNOW: CNC turning is sometimes called “facing.”
5 ways to find the best CNC turning shop in your area
Projects using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) can be completed in one of three ways: 1) manually using a traditional lathe, 2) with an automatic machining tool, or 3) through the continuous supervision and skill of a well-trained operator.
The latter is usually your best bet for efficiency and accuracy but tracking down reliable CNC turning companies can be hard. Narrow things down even more by looking for these 5 things:
1. Extensive Knowledge
Your service provider should be ready and willing to walk through the details of your project before the first cut is made. Only consider companies that can plainly explain the different aspects of machining from prototyping all the way to production manufacturing.
HACK: Hire a shop that has an intimate knowledge of all CNC equipment to receive useful recommendations according to your project and budget.
2. Years of Experience and Growth
A lengthy portfolio is a sign of continued success, so look for shops that have worked in numerous industries over several years. Check each company’s familiarity with the latest manufacturing trends, especially if your product or prototype is new.
HACK: Compare short-term versus long-term project success rates for a better view.
3. Precision Tools and Techniques
Accuracy is probably the most important aspect of CNC turning. Make sure your chosen shop can take care of every minute detail of your project, from size and shape to materials and techniques.
HACK: Work with a company that’s committed to using raw materials efficiently to reduce waste and project cost.
4. Project Flexibility
CNC technicians should work closely with project managers and clients to make changes in a timely and efficient manner. Simply put, your selected turning company needs to be as flexible as your industry or niche.
HACK: Ask about project change policies and additional fees to prevent costly surprises.
5. Compatible Services
Companies that have a little something extra are always good to work with. Full-service, one-stop machining shops can help you save some money on hiring vendors for different project phases.
HACK: Look for a shop that offers metal finishing, prototyping, product assembly, and inspection under the same roof.
Also, pay close attention to what people in your personal and/or professional network are saying. Word-of-mouth advertising can tell you a lot about a business that would be otherwise kept secret.
How to tell you’ve found a good CNC turning source
Because all machining shops are different regardless of the services they offer, it’s crucial to consider the details of each choice. Knowing how a company conducts business can spell the difference between signing a service contract and going somewhere else. Here are five things that have “good idea” written all over them:
- Affordable Prices
CNC turning services aren’t cheap, but the cost of your project should still be comparable to similar services in your area.
- Good Location
Nearby machining shops can help shrink logistics costs by making it easier to communicate with quickness and clarity.
- Professional Staff
Properly vetted technicians streamline the prototyping and manufacturing process through educated suggestions and speedy project completion.
- Reasonable Scheduling
Whether you’re on a tight deadline or have room to play, a reliable CNC shop will always discuss expectations and keep their promises.
- Fast, Free Estimates
Reputable sources never ask for an upfront fee to estimate the cost or duration of a project concept.
If possible, inquire about service discounts, special incentives, and referral programs to earn to save extra money. For more information on a particular shop, ask to see references and portfolios.
How to get the most out of your CNC turning services
Because the final cost of a CNC turning project can be high, it helps to make the most of every dollar you spend. Therefore, conscientious decision-making is a must and good communication is key.
For best results, approach each company through their official website to take advantage of special offers and online pricing. Ask for quotes while you’re there. If their services match your project requirements, initiate a contract after discussing the schedule.
CNC turning is at the heart of our country’s manufacturing industry. In fact, Computer Numerical Control is the most commonly utilized process for industrial prototyping and product development. It isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy but finding a reliable machining shop just might be after all.
Your service provider needs to work diligently to save you time and money. Comprehensive and practical manufacturing techniques should be the norm, as should data protection and file security. Don’t be afraid to walk away from bad service in favor of something better.