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Four Key Factors to Choosing a Precision Machine Shop

You have a project that requires the assistance of a machine shop. But how do you know where to start looking? Finding a reliable shop capable of completing your project with precision, excellent turnaround times and within budget is essential. Below is a short list of additional qualities and necessary attributes to look for in your search for the right machine shop.

1. Product Quality/Precision

The name of this game is precision. A reputable machine shop will have extensive product quality measurements in place to ensure their products are the absolute in excellence. Don’t be afraid to ask about them. 

Depending on the nature of your project, a machine shop may be required to hold certain registrations and certifications, such as an FDA, ISO or ITAR certification. Ensuring you complete your due diligence here will help you make an informed decision. 

There are many types of materials used to complete machining projects including, steels, alloys and plastics. Knowledgeable industry experts will be able to help you identify the correct materials needed for your project to ensure everything meets your expectations.

2. Reputation

Look for a machine shop that has been serving customers for quite a while — decades, in fact. A reputable machine shop should be able to provide references from past and current customers. Check their website for customer testimonials and do a quick Google search for online reviews as well.

Expert machine shops specialize in certain industries, such as medical device, security, photonics, aerospace, etc. Look for a machine shop that specializes in the industry best related to your project. Not only will their experts provide you with the best materials and processes within your industry but also the knowledge gained from their experience can help to elevate your project.

3. Reliability

Some machine shops will promise you quick turnaround times just to win your contract, but may push back deadlines and cause you to run into delays. Ask about the shop workload and get a real picture on anticipated turnaround times. 

Check to see if the shop employs the right personnel to complete your project. Have they hired technicians and machinists with knowledge capable of completing your project? Are they keeping up with evolving technology and methodologies?

Another important factor within reliability is whether the machine shop has the actual footprint and storage space to complete your project and ensure it can be delivered within the time frame you’ve agreed upon. 

4. Communication

Machining projects can be complex, often taking several weeks to complete, therefore, dedicated and consistent communication with your machine shop is imperative. Look for a shop that has dedicated project managers that ensure a smooth process. A great project manager will:

  • Be approachable and friendly
  • Communicate with you on your preferred channel (via phone, email, etc.)
  • Be available for questions or concerns and help to simplify complexity and ambiguity

You should feel comfortable talking with this person and they should guide and educate you throughout your project.

Shop Around

Finding the right partner in a machine shop can feel daunting but completing your due diligence during your initial search and quote process will save you time and headache. You should never feel like you’re overstepping by asking the questions above or inquiring with references. Ultimately, you’re responsible for the end result, so ensure your machine shop is on your side and pulling all of their weight to make you look good.

Ready to move forward? Get a free quote from Criterion Tool for your next precision project.

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