In response to the title of this blog "How to Select
Industrial Products", I think it's
important to clarify that selection advice is not exclusive to actual products.
Sometimes finding the right service or service company requires just as much
careful consideration. Enter CNC machining services.
(Credit: 3 Dimensional
Computer numeric controlled (CNC) machines are machining
tools and equipment that are automated using CNC controllers. Instead of
manually controlling the milling machine, lathe, or grinder, program commands
are manually entered or generated from computer-aided design (CAD) or
computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) drawings. These commands dictate how the
machine moves and functions. CNC provides fast and repeatable machining while
eliminating the human error and labor costs of manual operation. Here's
a fun example of a CNC milling machine cutting a face out of metal.
Often small companies, or those with limited manufacturing
capabilities, can't afford CNC machines. Compared to traditional milling
machines which are manually operated, CNC machines are much more expensive.
They also require programmers who know how to operate the machinery and input
the commands. For many companies, it's much easier to outsource the
manufacturing work to a CNC machine shop.
Determining the right CNC service requires an assessment of
the shop's capabilities. This includes machining techniques, which can range
from drilling, milling, turning, etching, honing, and boring depending on the
equipment used. The machining techniques, along with the number of axes
provided for workpiece manipulation, need to be assessed based on the
requirements of the part(s) being produced. The size of the products also needs
to be considered, since machine shops can only manufacture parts within certain
(3 dimensions, but 5 axes. Credit: Sandvik Coromant)
For any service company, cost and location are obvious
concerns. Service cost quotes typically correlate to the time the job will take
and the expense of the materials used. Costs may be noticeably higher for
providers located farther away, and further complications may come when dealing
with shops located in other countries.
It also never hurts to get a second opinion on the company
from others who have used their services. Is this a reputable company with
experience, or one that nobody has heard of which you found on the remotest
parts of the interweb?
Of course, all these considerations and more can be read
about on GlobalSpec's CNC
Machining Services Selection Guide. Don't hesitate to let us know if and
how you've benefited from CNC machine services in your work.