What to Look for in Precision Machine Shops

There are many, many precision machine shops all offering the same thing, but finding one that delivers what it promises – especially when it comes to low volume orders – is not always easy.

Most machine shops prefer high volume production runs, purely because, once the job is set up correctly, a less experienced operator can run it, and it brings in big money. It is therefore becoming more and more difficult to find the right suppliers to handle small batches and short runs.

By the time you’ve reached the machining stage, you will very often already have invested a significant amount of money into the production process. The last thing you need is to have to scrap your previously perfect part due to inaccurate, out of tolerance machining.

This is why it is so important to “shop” around for the right precision machine shop for your specific requirements.

How to Spot a Top Shop
You can’t afford to leave this up to trial and error, or a process of elimination as you work your way through a number of unsuitable precision machine shops. If you haven’t got recommendations from colleagues to go on, there are few things to think about before making this all-important choice:

* Size – bigger may be better in some industrial settings, but not always in machine shops. It’s true that modern equipment does take up a lot of space, but the very big shops may actually be too big for the job your require – and you’ll be paying “big shop” prices for a job a smaller company, with more limited scope, could handle equally as well but at a cheaper cost.

* History – how long has the company been in business? And how long have its current employees been working there? A long-standing company with a stable workforce of experienced, loyal employees is perfectly placed to use this experience to help find unique solutions for you.

* Setup – in low volume precision machining, this is paramount, as the setup costs are spread across each part – the fewer parts, the higher the per-part cost. A shop with the fastest setups, and the best setup reduction improvements, will ultimately offer the best lead times and pricing.

Jifco Products, Inc. is an ISO 9001-2008 Certified CNC precision machine shop specializing in prototype and small lot production. See our full range of services at Jicoproducts.com.

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