Knowing how to choose a CNC service that will help you get the best value for money as well as the best final product is key. CNC services are a mixed bag, with varying degrees of turn around time, quality and pricing. It is such a difficult task sometimes. Below are our top 5 tips on how to choose a CNC service that best fits your project.
1. Look at previous work
Many of the top CNC companies should have a solid portfolio of their previous jobs. Obviously some are top secret, while others are not. This is the number one leverage tool you can use to see exactly how a CNC service works and what their standard of quality is.
2. Get a definite quote with exact timing
A good CNC service will probably have a backlog of different jobs. You want to get an exact quote with an exact idea for lead time and project time. Lead time is how long it will take until a project is able to be started due to other projects. Meeting deadline is key, so be sure to get the exact finish date in concrete.
3. Make the call: 3 axis machine or 5 axis CNC machine?
There are many different types of CNC machines. the primary types boil down to between two types. There is a 3 axis machine which moves the drill piece in 3 axis for standard shapes such as boxes, rectangles etc. Then there is the 5 axis machine. This allows the machine to create complex 3D shapes such as domes. You will need to make a call on what you need to use. This is because the price difference between using each of these two types of machines can be expensive.
An experienced CNC technician may be able to move around or complete your project in separate pieces using only a 3 axis machine to save on cost. But this may make more work for you depending on the type of machine used.
4. Ask to look at the finish of their products
A good CNC service should leave you with little to no finishing needed. Obviously, you can get cheaper, but with a finish that may need to be sanded or finished even more by hand. This can be time consuming, so consider the cost-benefit of paying for a higher quality machine to get a higher degree of finish.
5. If possible, go for word of mouth, or try looking abroad
A good CNC service’s reputation should precede itself. Always go for word of mouth over fancy advertisements or cheapness. If this is not possible, you can try looking abroad. You can get quality services in places like China for a fraction of the price of back at home. I have had tens of thousands of dollars worth of CNC done abroad. Check out GL Model in Shenzen, China. These guys have awesome communication and offer an extremely high quality service for a fraction of the price of doing it in a place like USA, New Zealand or Canada.
We always recommend thorough research and taking a solid looking around before choosing a CNC service. Our bias has been to look abroad, as we have had better results from GL Model and other Chinese companies than locally.