After years of schooling, searching and landing your ideal job, you finally have the approval of your first project. Since this job is at a small firm and just starting out itself, the owner has given you the task to get your project Widget made and assembled. What to do? Since this Widget is the next revolutionary product, finding a place to make the prototype parts is starting to become intimidating and overwhelming. That’s where custom CNC work comes into play.
A custom CNC work shop is the perfect partner that you will need to get your parts produced. But there is always a catch, they are hard to find, the cost can be high to produce your parts, more than likely the ones you find online are across the country, they are too busy to deal with a new customer, and if they can get to your parts the lead time is too far out for your project. One of these pressure points is going to have to give for you and your firm to get this project going.
I’m going to walk you through these points and help you to get your parts into your warehouse on-time, under budget, and utilize local businesses, which could eliminate your shipping costs.
1. Have Complete Prints Ready to Be Quoted
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your prints are complete and ready to be quoted on. Nothing irritates a supplier more than incomplete prints. It slows down the process and starts casting doubts on if they want to work with you, due to your abilities.
2. Know the Due Date
The second issue to lock down is the quantity and lead time. These two aspects are going to be the leading factor on the feasibility of the job. Will the shop have the capability to meet your needs? If you can add some time to the deadline your cost will drop dramatically.
3. Know Quantities You’ll Need
Now that you have those things locked down, you need to start looking for CNC machine shops that can handle low to medium quantities. This may sound completely backwards, but low quantities are sometime difficult to manufacture, and companies don’t want to waste the time and money to build up tooling for a handful of parts no matter what the cost.
4. Find Custom CNC Work Shops
When you search online the best term to use is custom CNC work followed by city and state you are in. Look through at least 3 pages of the google results. More often than not, the best CNC machine shops are the not the best SEO marketers, and they will be lower on the search results. To get a broader cost analysis, google custom CNC work followed by the nearest city and look on the 4th or 5th page and contact a couple shops there. For example, the two searches would be “custom CNC work Sacramento CA” and “custom CNC work san Jose CA”.
5. Reach Out for a Quote
Now that you have a list of 4-6 companies you would like to work with, contact the person in charge of quoting. They will jump on the opportunity to give you a quote to work with a new potential customer. Also set a deadline for them to submit their quote. This will be a great indicator of how efficient they are. If they miss the RFQ deadline, then often they will miss your part delivery.
6. Ensure They Agree to Your Terms and NDA
Make sure that the shops adhere to your company’s terms and any non-discloser agreements (NDA) that your company has setup.
7. Pick the Right Custom CNC Work Shop for You
After you have sent and received all the RFQ’s back from the shops on your custom CNC work, you will have a perfect price point and lead time for that part. Don’t pick a shop solely on the lowest in price. Pick a shop that communicates well with you and your project and has a reasonable price point. Issue them a PO and ask for a solid confirmation. Let the other shop know that they didn’t win the job. Keep the line of communication open, because next time they could be the lowest price or shortest lead time!
Or Use Online, Streamlined System Find Custom CNC Work Shops
We understand that this might be a tedious process that you might want to streamline. If that’s the case, then we have developed an innovative online product that centralizes most of this process. Laptr.com is a hub that searches custom CNC shops close to you. It lets you pick the shops you want to submit your part to and make them sign your NDA, if needed. It keeps track of the returned RFQ’s from those selected shops willing to do your custom CNC work.