Tips for Ordering Custom Machined Parts

by Thomas E.

Ordering custom machined parts can be a challenging process. You are not careful enough; you are likely to get into problems. Therefore, before asking for quotes from a CNC machine shop, ensure you have set up everything correctly. Finding the right shop is the first thing to do. With the use of 3D printing and CNC machining, a machine shop can make parts for any given application you can think about. Reputable shops have experience working with designers and novice makers to ensure everything goes according to plan. The following are the vital things to consider when ordering custom machined parts from a machine shop.

Specify Tolerances

You need to specify tolerances correctly. In fact, it is a crucial step in ensuring that the parts manufactured work correctly as intended. You should note that tolerance is only a way of specifying the range of measurement. For instance, 1.000 +/- 0.04 is the same as .996 to 1.004. In some situations, tight tolerances are not needed. However, if your project needs exactness and precision, you have to set tolerances correctly to ensure that parts function correctly.

You should note that tolerances have an impact on the production cost. Ideally, small changes to tolerances can result in higher product prices. Therefore, you should use tight tolerances when it is necessary to do so.

Determine Surface Roughness

Surface roughness can be defined as the difference in the height of the valleys and peaks of a surface. If your aim is to minimize the cost of production, then you should accept the highest surface roughness you can permit. For instance, Ra120 is economical for custom machined parts. However, if you need smoother surfaces, you should consider Ra63 and below. For polished surfaces, you should get down to Ra20 and less.

Select Right Materials

Choosing a material may seem to be easy. However, there are some things you need to consider to help minimize production costs. Manufacturers think that it is cheaper to buy steel parts as compared to aluminum parts. However, they fail to consider the machining time. Since aluminum alloys are easier to machine them as compared to steel alloys.

Another thing you ought to know when ordering custom machining services is that the particular material requested may not be available. If the application allows for material flexibility, consider changing it. In this way, you can reduce both the delivery time and cost.

Go with Simple Designs

When designing custom parts, you ought to think about how the given part will be manufactured. If you do not take into account the manufacturing process, you may end up paying more because of increased production costs. After designing parts, you should have a few prototypes manufactured. That is necessary if the products will be mass-produced in the future.

Although a machine can effortlessly manufacture a part, it requires skilled labor to set up the machine and program it to work. Therefore, even if it takes 3 minutes for a CNC milling machine to manufacture your part, it may take longer to set up. As a result, ordering a single part can be expensive.

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