Tricky 4th-Axis Precision of Stainless Steel at Parametric Manufacturing

CNC Machining is a Universal Process

CNC Machining Guide – Quick Brief on Production and Prototyping

Every manufacturing process has its place in the development cycle, but unlike it's brothers and sisters, CNC machining is a quasi-universal process that can be a sensible choice to use at any given phase of your development cycle.

When Does it Make Sense to CNC Machine Parts?

  • When tolerances and assembly are important – CNC machining makes the most sense to use when tolerances are tight and material properties are fundamental in end use or testing.   If tolerances are less than +/-.005”, CNC machining is the way to go because it can achieve tolerances in the range of microns.
  • When Functional & Performance Testing are Critical – Whether it’s a plastic snap fit or tool steel for a shaft spline, CNC machining is really the only way to deliver parts with production materials and finishes  to test the market.
  • When Mid-High Volume Quantities are Needed – Ten to 100 parts is the sweet spot.  However, over 300 parts is where economies of scale truly come to life to save costs. Why? At around 300+ parts, all the set-up times, programming costs, tools and overhead are amortized into the noise.  That means if there is $400 worth of one time set-up to make just one part, then it only costs $1.30 per part in quantities of 300.  For 4 parts, it costs $100 per part.

CNC Machining of a Stainless Steel using milling and turning at Parametric Manufacturing

What about CNC versus 3D Printing?

We agree, for rapid development, 3D printing, SLA, Polyjet, and FDM are the fastest and arguably cheapest methods to have parts in your hands at quantities under 5; it provides a tremendous value in rapid product development. However, it only makes sense in the conceptual stage. Partner Ryan Teixeira has been engineering and developing products on the fast train for over 20 years, started his own 3D Printing company in 2011 and learned when and where it makes the most sense. The problem that repeatedly reared it's ugly head were brittle parts that broke easily under mild loading.

Prototyping vs. Production Pricing

We provide the most value and bang for your buck in volumes of 20-1000s. However, we understand that prototyping is an integral part of development and are eager to foster new relationships in the prototype phase because we are extremely talented in helping customers reduce costs in volume. How? We are licensed Mechanical Engineers with a 20 year history of engineering solutions in a plethora of industries. We love design, engineering and DFM. In addition, we are motivated to earn your trust for your production high volume order because that is when we make the biggest difference in savings for you and make a fair business margin for us.

The Value of Ordering Volume

Pricing for one-offs or volumes less than 10 are always fairly expensive due to the many activities required to make your parts. We must generate an NC program, design and build fixturing, create inspection documents, machine set-up documents, set-up the tools and the machine, prove out the first articles plus all the administration of navigating your project from beginning to end. Those costs are amortized over the quantities you order. For a simple and small part, it will cost us $300 in programming, machine set-up and first articles. Order just a few and it will be expensive. Order 50 and pricing looks very good due to the $300 being spread over 50 parts.


We Work Hard to Deliver Consistent Results

Pre-Workflow 1

  • Order Entry
  • Confirm Materials
  • NC Programming
  • Build NC Database
  • Backplot Double Check

Pre-Workflow 2

  • Bubble Drawing
  • Inspection Documents
  • Order Materials
  • Order Tools
  • Pre-Job Review

CNC Set-Up

  • Schedule Job
  • Material Prep
  • Pre-Processing (Example: Annealing, Lapping, etc.)
  • Set-Up CNC Tools
  • Machine First Articles

Machine & Ship

  • Prove Repeatability
  • Machine All Parts
  • Post-Processing (Example: Anodize, Laser Etch, etc. )
  • Final Inspection Report
  • Pack & ship!