5 Drawbacks to Avoid When Outsourcing Your Contract Machining

M&M Automatic Manufacturing Parts

Outsourcing your parts manufacturing to a company within the United States can provide you with more opportunity to get the quality parts you need without having to invest in more products machinery or employees and without breaking the budget. Like any time you utilize an outside source for business, there are things you should be aware of to avoid falling victim to scammers or poor quality service and parts. Here are five areas to be aware of when outsourcing your contract manufacturing.

Skipping Your Research

In order to ensure that you choose a company that is qualified for your company and project, you should go through the process of properly vetting them or qualifying the manufacturing company first.

Here’s an easy checklist to use when qualifying a contract manufacturing company. Download it free here.

Look into their certifications – are they ISO Certified? Glance at their online reviews either on Better Business Bureau or on their own website to get a feel for type of experiences people have had with them. Use this information to research and compare different companies.

Sacrificing Quality for Budget

Every business wants to save a penny where they can, but when it comes at the expense of quality, you’ll end up getting the short end of the stick. There are ways that you can save, such as switching out the material you machine with to more cost-effective materials, and this is a great way to increase your ROI. However, what you want to be very cautious of is any company that promises top-notch quality on a shoestring budget. The overall quality may end up being poor, they might not provide you with the communication and customer service you deserve, or, even worse, you may end up getting a surprise bill at the end of the run.

Unclear Timelines & Communication

Whether you only need a one-time part or you need to schedule recurring manufacturing over the course of a year, it’s important to clearly communicate every timeline and deadline you’ll be needing your parts by. A common and costly mistake in manufacturing is not being completely up front and vocal about when companies need their products by. Headaches and failed deadlines can cost you even more time, money and resources.

Not Utilizing Machinists for Recommendations

Contract machinists are more than just a vehicle to carry out your project, but they are experts of the manufacturing process and can be utilized as a great source of information on how to best manufacture your parts and components. Whether it be what materials to use, how to machine to reduce run time, or figuring out what the best design would be for the part, contract machinists should be used as an expert resource for you. Not utilizing them to their fullest ability can be the difference between money in your pocket or more money thrown into the manufacturing process.

Not Regulating Compliance Standards

Many industries like the medical field and food industry have strict guidelines and standards that need to be met. If you are getting a part manufactured within a field with high standards such as these, it’s crucial that you make sure that those are being met within the design and manufacturing process.

As the owner of the design, you need to be responsible for the regulating and managing your product to ensure it aligns with your industry standards, reimburse your contract manufacturing company to do it or hire an additional outside source to do so.

These five areas have caused a lot of companies more time, resources and stress, but can be easily avoided if you are prepared and know what to look for. If you have any other problems you’re facing with your manufacturing needs, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help you figure out the best and most cost-effective way to manufacturing your parts.

How to Choose the Best (Cost-Effective) Material for Custom Machined Parts

There are number of factors that you should consider when determining what the best material would be for your custom machined part or component. Whether you’re in the process of designing a new part or you just need to cut manufacturing costs of your machined part, here are five areas to consider when choosing the best (and most cost effective) material for your part.

Consider Manufacturing Time & Cost

If you’re trying to keep overall costs low, you’ll want to sincerely consider the type of material you use. High strength materials such as steel require higher grade milling and turning equipment. Also if you have a custom machine part that requires extreme precision, such as a pneumatic value for a medical machine, it will take more time to manufacture to ensure that each divot, turn, notch, etc. is precise.

Consider Your Use Environment

Whether you need a custom machined part to withhold in an outside environment or an inside environment, it’s important to know which materials are better suited for varying environments. For instance, if you need a part that would function outside, your custom part would best be crafted from stainless steel as opposed to carbon alloy to avoid rust and corroding.

Consider Performance Temperatures

Depending on the environment in which the part will be operating, there may only be certain materials that can withstand significant heat or cool temperatures without breaking down. Some materials will expand under even the smallest temperature changes, so it is important to know which materials are strong and stable enough to operate at different temperatures.

You’ll also want to consider any specifications required based on the environment your part will be used in, such as medical, military, or food production, to ensure that it meets those standards and requirements.

Consider Weight Requirements

The next thing you should consider when choosing the materials for your custom machined part is the weight of the material. Heavy steel or iron weigh more, so if your application is weight-sensitive, you may want to go with a material that is strong, but won’t tip the scales (i.e. polymers, certain alloys).

Consider Strength Requirements

Similar to how material weight influences what you choose to manufacture your part out of, the strength of your custom machined part can vary based on material as well. When choosing the right material for the job, you’ll want to take into consideration factors such as endurance strength (ability to absorb stress), wear resistance, hardness, and tensile strength (ability to pull something).

If you have specific questions on what would be the best materials to run your custom machined part with, ask us!

M&M Automatic Products ISO Certified & What it Means for You

Every three years, the top contact machining companies around the country undergo an extensive assessment by a third-party body to verify the quality of the company and the products and services they provide. This certification was put into place to ultimately protect you, the customer, and give you confidence when working with specific contract machining companies, knowing they will provide you with one of the best experiences within the industry.

Our team here at M&M Automatic Products is proud to say that we have once again passed these rigorous standards to claim the ISO 9001:2008 Certification standards.

In order to be become ISO 9001:2008 certified, we are evaluated on our implementation of standards under a Quality Management System with a focus on various areas of our business including equipment, facilities, services, people and training.

What Does This Mean for You?

What this means is that you can trust the quality of our parts, team, facilities and services when you work with our team for all your contract machining and screw machining needs.

Customer-Focused Benefits of Certification:

  • On-time delivery
  • Continuous improvement of processes and standards
  • First-rate customer service
  • Promised commitment to high quality products

If you’d like to know more about what it means to be ISO Certified or how we could help your business, get in touch with us!

Types of CNC Milling Machines

M&M Automatic Milling Types

The world of milling and machining was forever changed with the introduction of computer numerated control, otherwise known as CNC Milling. Computer numerated control is a process in which a computer takes input from a Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and converts it into numbers, which are then used as coordinates that control the movement of the cutter of the machine. Motion is created among multiple axes (a differing amount depending on the type of machine being used) and a spindle which is used to do the actual drilling.

Depending on the type of product being created and type of material being used, there are different CNC milling machines that are more preferable for different applications. The amount of axes being used, the amount of control needed for the machine and the size of the product being made will all have an impact on the type of machine being used. So, what type of machine is best for creating your product? Find out below.

Vertical Mill

The orientation of the mill being used has a great affect on the product being made. A vertical mill simply means that the spindle axis on the mill is vertically oriented. Milling cutters are positioned on the spindle of the vertical mill, allowing the machine to easily cut into the material as needed. The shape, angle, and size of the milling cutter are all dependent on the type of product being made, with the different characteristics amounting to different textures and coatings.

Turret Mill

Whether or not the spindle is mobile is dependent upon the type of vertical mill being used. With a turret mill, the spindle is stationary while the table below it moves both perpendicular and parallel to the spindle axis. A quill is usually found in turret mills, which allows the milling cutter to move up and down as needed. The turret mill allows items to be vertically cut either by the milling cutter moving vertically or the table moving vertically. The turret mill is the most versatile vertical mill; however, they are most effective when the machines remain relatively small, so that the tables and the spindle have easier mobility.

Bed Mill

A bed mill is similar to a turret mill, however, the table of the machine only moves perpendicular to the spindle, opposed to perpendicular and parallel. The spindle is the only part of the machine that moves parallel to the axis, creating a more confined production. Bed mills are also considered to be more rigid than a turret mill.

Horizontal Milling

Horizontal mills function almost the same way as vertical mills, except that the cutters are mounted on a horizontal arbor. Instead of drilling into an object, an arbor shaves unwanted material from a project off, which is why it’s horizontal instead of vertical. Horizontal mills also include a universal table, which allows the product to be cut at various angles and adds to the versatility of the machine.

Generally, horizontal mills are used to cut grooves and slots into a product. However, specialty cutters can also be used to cut bevels and radii, but these specialty cutters tend to be more expensive. Horizontal mills are most commonly used to cut gears.

Why CNC Machining Still Reigns Over 3-D Printing

M&M Automatic Turning Machine

In the last couple years, 3-D printing has been getting a lot of publicity in the machining and manufacturing industry for its ability to print an image into a physical part, such as connectors, screws and nozzles. While, this technique provides a new and unique perspective on manufacturing, there are a number of areas in which 3-D printing falls short in comparison to traditional cnc machining practices. Here we’re detailing our three main areas in which cnc machining still reigns over 3-D printing today when it comes to manufacturing parts and components.

1. Unmatched Speed

CNC machining works on the premise of subtracting or removing to create the desired part. By using this approach, cnc machinists are able to manufacture parts very quickly. While on the other hand, 3-D printing works on the premise of building or adding to something in order to create a product, making it a much more time-intensive process.

2. Unmatched Flexibility

With 3-D printing, you can currently only work with materials such as ABS plastic, PLA plastic, and some metals. While it may be possible to print with a desired metal, cnc machining can achieve a stronger, more durable and cleaner product when finished that most standard 3-D printers cannot.

3. Unmatched Quality

CNC machining offers precise machining capabilities that allow you to determine what type of quality of part you need, depending on the purposes it will serve. It even allows you to vary that quality within different areas of the part, giving you the precise measurements, look and feel for your application. On the other hand, 3-D printing works on the premise of building layers and utilizing layers to build a product (smaller layers are stronger than larger layers). Because it cannot vary the height of those layers without completely compromising the product, you are not able to change the quality of different areas within a part, further eliminating customizability.

The Takeaway:

3-D printing may be the newest trend in prototyping and part manufacturing, but nothing beats the quality, precision, speed and flexibility of cnc machining and manufacturing. Whether you’re looking for a complex part that’s never been made before or a stock piece for your machining equipment, cnc machining can provide the best part to get the job done.

3 Common Manufacturing Outsourcing Mistakes to Avoid

M&M Automatic Materials Employee

Although outsourcing may seem like a business-only activity, people outsource every day. Technically, we outsource when we go to the dentist, because we could just deep-clean our teeth ourselves; we outsource when we send children to school, because we could just teach them from home. However, in these instances, outsourcing just makes more sense: you’ll save time in order to complete other activities, you’ll save money in the long run, and chances are you’ll get a better quality product. Similarly, outsourcing heavy machinery products could save your company time and money, while producing the best product possible.

One of the main reasons companies choose to outsource their products is to reduce certain costs such as high taxes and energy utilities. However, although outsourcing has many benefits, there is a thin line to walk when choosing to outsource your product – one mistake could cost you (and your company) thousands. In order to find success with your outsourcing project, watch out for these 5 common outsourcing mistakes.

1. Skipping Due Diligence

Similar to any business collaboration process, you want to get to know the company that you’ll be working with as best as possible. However, some people get blindsided by a cheap price and a quick turnover rate that they jump at the chance to work with a company without taking the time to sit down and finalize every detail, which could end up being detrimental to the final product.

When focusing on getting to know the basics of a company, it’s recommended that you concentrate on three main areas:

  • People: getting to know the culture of a company is one of the quickest ways to discover their values and goals. Try to become accustomed to the management team, because it will be a clear indicator of how a company runs its business.
  • Company: become accustomed to the fundamentals of the company – their business model, stability, and flexibility are all factors that will become important when doing business with them.
  • Technology: ask your future partners about the type of technology they use, including infrastructure, applications, and software, so that you’ll be more aware of the quality of products they’ll be able to create.

Outsourcing your product to a company is similar to investing in them – you’re trusting that they’ll do well enough to benefit you in the long run. So, before you commit to something that big, you should make sure you cover all of the basics with them before you begin.

2. Neglecting Constant Collaboration

Communication is key when outsourcing your product. A lot of people fall into the mindset that once you outsource your product, you don’t need to communicate with them until the product is complete – a huge mistake.

Think of all of the details that go into producing a heavy machinery part; there is a lot that could possibly be overlooked. In order to ensure that your product is being produced exactly the way you need it to be, it’s important to communicate with the outsourcing company as much as possible.

One way to do this is by setting up weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings with your outsourcing company to go over progress made, what still needs to be done, and if there are any obstacles standing in the way. By having clear communication about the progress of the product, there won’t be any unpleasant surprises that could end up costing your company.

If meetings won’t work out, another option is to request an electronic progress report of the product that goes over details such as the process being used, how far along the project is and estimated date of completion. Any form of communication that works between the two companies should be used in order to assure a quality product.

3. Selecting Wrong Manufacturing Company

Think of outsourcing a part like shopping for a new car. As mentioned before, people become blindsided when finding an outsourcer and can become blindsided by a good price. If people did this when shopping for a new car, they could miss out on important details like it has a bad accident record or an excessive amount of miles instead of getting a real, quality product.

People become so accustomed to the “quote-and-go” approach: as soon as they hear a number that is within their budget, they’re sold. By focusing in on details that are important to your company, you will end up with a better product and better return on investment in the future.

Before beginning your search for an outsourcer, come up with a list of criteria that would fit your “perfect manufacturing outsourcer”, including:

  • Short and long term goals
  • Budget
  • Timeframe

Don’t become blindsided by flashy deals or an unrealistic turn over rate. Creating a quality product will be worth the time that you put into finding the best outsourcer, and you’ll be happier with the results.

In Conclusion…

Finding an outsourcer can be tough, but if you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll be on the track to a better outsourcer and a better product.

5 Best Materials to Use for Heavy Machinery Equipment Parts

Three Machining Parts

With such a vast selection of materials to choose from, it’s important that you select one that is right for your heavy machining equipment part. Each material has a list of pros and cons that come along with them, ranging from price to strength and durability. So, how do you know which material is right for your part? Learn more about the most widely-used materials below.

1. Carbon Alloys

Carbon alloys are beneficial to use when creating machinery parts due to its corrosion resistance and extreme temperature stability. The carbon content in our alloys is below 5% by weight, meaning the steel can achieve a greater weldability and formability but still maintain the strength of steel. Carbon alloys are commonly used for parts that require corrosion resistance, strength and wear resistant properties.

2. Aluminum

On the other hand, aluminum can be used for parts that don’t require much strength. Due to the lack of density in aluminum, the energy output for machining is fairly low compared to machining other materials. If your machine has weight restrictions, using aluminum parts may prove to be beneficial due to its low density and light weight. Aluminum also has excellent corrosion resistance, and is easy to work with heavy machinery due to its thermal and electrical conductivity. Because of its lightweight and general availability, aluminum is fairly inexpensive compared to other metals.

3. Brass

Along with having great strength and being resistant to corrosion, brass is often used for heavy machinery that is visible to others due to its favorable appearance and color. Brass is also very resistant to rust, making it a favorable material for machines that will be operating near water or in high humidity atmospheres. Brass is known as being extremely malleable, so it can be easily transformed into any part that you may need. Although regularly more expensive than other materials, it may be easier to work with depending on the part you need for your heavy machining product.

4. Stainless Steel

One of the most widely used metals for machining purposes today is stainless steel. Although it’s very popular, it may be hard to machine due to its intense strength and hardness. However, because of its hardness, it is a great material for heavy machinery that will be used outdoors, as it has a low corrosive property as well. Stainless steel also has a high resistance to heat, allowing it to retain strength at high temperatures.

5. Plastics

Plastic can be used for a variety of different purposes, including creating parts for heavy machinery. Although plastic isn’t very heat resistant due to its low melting temperature, its light weight and high versatility makes it an easy-to-use material for majority of machine parts. Because plastic is generally lower is strength, it would be beneficial to use it for a machine that requires light weight material.

CNC Turned Products vs. Screw Machine Products

CNC Turning Verses Screw Machine

When the screw machine product was created 100 years ago, it’s original purpose was to make screws for a variety of different products. However, while the name has remained the same, the technology behind a screw machine product has evolved throughout the years to meet the needs of modern turned components. CNC (or computer numerical control) turned products is the automation of machine tools that operate via computer-programmed commands, as opposed to mechanically automated machines such as a screw machine. So, what are the benefits of each?

Screw Machine Products

A screw machine product is a class of automatic lathes for small to medium sized parts. The name “screw machine” is considered to be a tad misleading, as they don’t actually create screws anymore or screw anything into place. Instead, they spin on a rotating lathe, which essentially shaves metal down to a desired size. A screw machine functions with a disc cam, which is a rotating piece used to transform rotary motion into linear motion or vice versa using either a single spindle or multiple. Because a screw machine operates with close spindle collets, deflected debris is reduced to minimal or none at all.

Screw Machine Manufacturing Capabilities

Screw machines are used for bar work majority of the time. The entire bar stock is passed through and turns with the spindle, and then is separated from the part and fed forward, making the screw machine ready for the next part. Screw machines are more time efficient than CNC turned products due to the tightness of the collets, work-piece and tooling.

CNC Turned Products

The first CNC machines were created in the 1940s and 1950s, modifying existing tools and implementing motors into the design. CNC products essentially function the same way as screw machine products, but instead of being operated by cams, they are mainly controlled by computers. Having transformed a great deal throughout the years, CNC turned products now are equipped to feature more sets of tooling than screw machine products, which allows the machine to perform multiple operations on the part in a shorter amount of time.

CNC Turning Manufacturing Capabilities

CNC turned products are known for being the most precise machine in it’s class. According to Thomasnet.com, a CNC machine can rotate a part at up to 10,000RPM at an accuracy level of 0.0002 to 0.0005 inches. Because of the machine’s extreme precision, it is used for a variety of operations that involve a complex series of movements, including laser cutting, welding, ultrasonic welding, and flame and plasma cutting.

Do you need a part created but aren’t sure what would be the best process – CNC turning or screw machines? Ask us! We’ll be happy to help you figure it out.

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your Precision CNC Machining Needs

M&M Automatic CNC Machining

For both small and large companies, keeping operating low and profit return high is essential to becoming a lean, thriving business. One of the ways that many companies have successfully cut costs is through outsourcing manufacturing parts for their business to other companies within the United States. But does it really make sense in the long run? Reduced operating costs, increased product support and manufacturing expertise are all benefits of outsourcing CNC parts manufacturing.

No Equipment or Additional Costs

The biggest advantage of outsourcing all your precision CNC machining needs is the mere “price” of owning, operating and housing the equipment. This particular machining equipment can be very expensive to own and operate, starting with the purchase and maintenance of a company-owned machine to paying a trained CNC machinist to operate it.

While some companies require a steady production of parts for their products and services, most don’t utilize the machine enough to justify the cost of owning a machine. Through outsourcing the part manufacturing, companies can eliminate the extra costs associated with owning, operating and maintaining CNC machining equipment.

Complete Part Support & Customer Service

What if the parts you’ve designed aren’t working within the system or equipment like you need them to? When you manufacture these parts in-house, it’s up to you and your team to figure out a solution. On the other hand, when you hire a CNC machining company, you are provided complete support and customer service for all of your parts and components by top engineering experts.

CNC Design & Manufacturing Expertise

Not everyone is capable of designing and fabricating the parts that make your systems and machines run correctly. It takes a team of experienced machinists and engineers to ensure that your parts fit and work as you’ve designed them. If you aren’t equipped with engineers that know the exact dimensions or core materials that you’ll be needing, a team of contract machinists that focus solely on designing and developing these products everyday is the best way to go.