If you need parts machined for any reason, it might be tempting to go with the first shop that provides a decent quote. Even if you are in a hurry and cost is not critical, this can be a bad approach. However, you probably have time to weigh some options, get prices, and choose. In other words, don’t just type “CNC machine shop near me” into a browser and glance at a few of the top results.
You want to consider several factors before hiring a machine shop. One factor is this: do you want someone you can use for other machine shop work in the future? If so, look at whether they offer welding services and/or engineering services in addition to machining.
Finding a Good CNC Machine Shop Near Me
Start by considering just the services and expertise that your job requires. Use your city or zip code to run a search for CNC machine shops in the area. Instead of “CNC machine shop near me,” use “CNC machine shop 37213” or “CNC machine shop Nashville.” The results at the top might simply have the best digital marketing help or the biggest ad budgets rather than the best services and competitive pricing.
Standard Questions to Ask
Ask about the materials they work with. You may not care if they machine plastic, aluminum alloys, or titanium alloys, but you want to know they have experience (not just ability) with machining whatever materials your company uses. Some companies, like Hamilton Machine, offer a wide range of CNC machining services, versus just a few.
Industry experience can be important. It certainly is when your industry tends to work with ceramics and alloys. Any machine shop should be able to machine steel or aluminum parts but what about titanium-steel alloy or hard ceramics?
Do they have any references? Those are better than short testimonial quotes, and perhaps not as good as reviews posted on places like their Google My Business profile. Look them up and see what previous customers have to say.
What are their rates? Don’t focus too much on this because the cost isn’t everything. However, be wary of anyone whose rates are exceptionally high, or exceptionally low. Newer CNC machines are expensive but they deliver top-quality parts at high speed. This is going to cost extra, but the payoff in time and trouble saved is worthwhile.
Do they offer pickup and delivery? Do they perform on-site work? Depending on your situation, those services can be valuable. Do they have a professional engineer on staff? That’s useful to know if you are designing or redesigning something that needs a good deal of engineering expertise.
If your business needs CNC machine work, it probably needs other machine shop services sometimes. Find out what else they do. Can they help with design or fabrication? Do they offer welding? What about mobile welding? Do certified welders perform all of those services?
Some of the questions you might want to ask about a particular machine shop are not obvious but still valuable.
More Screening Questions
You can look for signs of experience, quality, and stability (years in the business) by asking a few questions that may not be obvious. You can gather this information by asking directly or by reviewing their website:
Are they hiring? This could indicate a financially sound and growing firm. Is there equipment new or almost new? You might not be able to evaluate the quality of their equipment beyond that but relatively new CNC machines are a sign of a company’s financial stability. Are they using the newest software to design parts and run their machines? This is good to know for the same reason you want to know if they use newer CNC machines.
Are they ISO 9001 certified? This or a similar quality control certification demonstrates that they use industry best practices in quality control. Maintaining appropriate certifications is a sign of the shop’s professionalism too.
Focus on the future. You might need a machine shop for additional work in the future. This is why you can benefit from knowing what related services and capabilities they have. You don’t need fabrication help now, but next year. Or, next year is the time to revisit a great product idea. Some machine shops won’t be able to help with that project unless you just need a few copies of a part.
Do they guarantee on-time delivery? Your work might be flexible, but you might have strict deadlines imposed by a contract. That custom part may be crucial to taking the next step in an in-house project. Make sure the firm you choose can deliver on time and with the quality that you want.
Choose a Machine Shop Nearby
Take a little time to evaluate your options before giving your machining work to the first place that popped up when you typed “CNC shop machine near me” into your web browser. Ask questions about their equipment, experience, pricing, business practices, and other services, including engineering and welding services. Contact us to learn more about our CNC machining experience and capabilities.