When you think of CNC machines, what comes to mind? Large metal structures, automation, or perhaps warehouses to allocate them? This is typically how we tend to think of and define machinery. But for those of us in the trade, machines are more than just an inanimate means to an end. For us, they are beautiful works of art, with each piece of its makeup representing an intricate detail. Each machine is an entity with a purpose and its creation is just as important to its purpose as the quality of the final product it delivers. The very fact that they only have one true purpose is what makes them so magnificent! We’re nerds of the trade, so we’re a little biased towards them. But putting our feelings aside, what really makes for a “great” machine?
Material is King!
What goes into making your machine is very important. Whether they are made of aluminum, steels, brass, or copper, the quality of the material as well as an appropriate selection is key to building something strong. Not only do different materials have different qualities, but choosing the right combination ensures that your final product is best suited to complete its intended purpose. Some things to keep in mind when selecting the right material is strength, the environment it will be housed in, size, and maneuverability. But remember – Each of these areas requires consideration for different qualities which often way against each other. For example, size, strength and maneuverability may all be important qualities for you, but maximizing one may require compromising on another. If you require a machine for a large final product, chances are your machine will also need to be of significant size. However, if moving this machine over time is a box you are trying to check off, then you may need to compromise on strength of material.
However, selecting the right combination of characteristics is only half of the battle. Often this part is a no brainer when you choose the right manufacturer. However, the source and quality of the material itself is another story. While you can specify your needs to the tee, it is much harder to gauge an understanding of the raw materials that are actually going into the product. This part is almost solely a matter of trust, unless you have good measures for quality tests before you make a commitment. The fact of the matter is, not all steel, brass, copper, etc. are made equally. Variations in quality exist for a variety of reasons: poor source or extraction, inadequate metal refinement, or pre-existing environment corrosions. While you can’t control what the manufacturer has in store, you can certainly be prepared and do your due diligence. Consider manufactures that can provide non-destructive, visual, mechanical and/or chemical tests. There are plenty of service providers for these kinds of tests in the market, and good manufacturers will be able to assist in the process. The best of them may even have these reports on hand to ensure the quality of their products!
Putting the pieces together is an exciting step of the process, but it is also a very important one. Quality control check points at this step are essential to ensure accuracy, precision, and most important, the safety of the machines. How a machine is assembled is a marker of its performance. But keep in mind that it is also an important factor in ensuring that its operators are safe to work with them. Horrific accidents are often either a result of poor assembly or bad operating practices. While the latter is a matter of training and care, accidents due to assembly malpractices are unacceptable. Finding the right manufacturer who is diligent in its quality controls is key to avoiding any future mishaps. Remember, the eventual onus of responsibility falls on you as its owner and operator. More importantly, there is no way to undo a bad experience other than to pay its price in terms of harm to workers and consequential law suits. Best practice calls for ensuring that your chosen manufacturer has a proven track record over many years and has customers who are willing to vouch for their expertise.
For a manufacturer, quality control should begin at the source of their materials and last until the final product is out the door. And even beyond that, responsible manufacturers will ensure that their machines are operating as they should in their intended environments.
But quality control is more than proven track records for materials or process checks. It is about accountability at every step of the way and a sense of responsibility. Everything from selecting the right tools for the job, to testing as the process of manufacturing moves forward is very important. Checkpoints along the way ensure that the final product being created piece by piece is assembled to its greatest strength. Finally, once assembled, running tests ensure that the machine performs at its optimal safety, durability, and capacity to ensure speed and precision you can count on. All of these attributes together contribute to quality-control that is conscientious and reliable, yielding a final product that you can have confidence in!
Overall, when selecting a manufacturers, a good fit right from the start is very important to producing the best machine. Look for a manufacturer that is able to vouch for the finest of materials to build your machines, backed up by thorough material information sheets and source data. But also, find a team that is open to discussing your needs, thoughts, and concerns to a level of detail that you are comfortable with. Remember, transparency and confidence in your manufacturer are strong indicators of reliability, so they are important qualities to look out for. The more you delve deeper into their work, the more obvious these indicators will become. Because at the end of the day, the greatest of machines are created by those who are best in the trade. Enter your e-mail address for more CNC content