Posted & filed under Tools & Technologies.

A quick Google search reveals a myriad of precision machining supplier options. Finding sources for precision machining is easy, however evaluating the quality your precision machining options may prove a little more challenging.

As a manufacturer, it is important to have a process in place for evaluating the machine shop you partner with, to assure you are working with a competent supplier with the right capabilities. The evaluating process may need to be particularly stringent if your products are manufactured for industries involved with medical devices, semiconductor components, or defense equipment.

Though industries may vary, there is a wide range of similarity in the criteria for evaluating a machining supplier and the quality of its precision machining.  The following are four areas to consider in the evaluation of precision machining.

Is the best precision machining technology being used?

Great advances have been made in the area of precision machining technology. The quality of your precision machined parts may not be as high as it could be if inferior or sub-par equipment is being used to produce them.

Have the processing strategies being used been evaluated?

Status quo can be a serious enemy to optimization. The quality of your machined parts processes should be evaluated with an eye for improvement opportunities. Different set-ups, cycle times, and volumes can impact the quality, price, and lead time of an order.

Is the precision machining process undergoing continuous improvement?

Complacency is a problem for companies that are working toward achieving performance and efficiency goals. Continuous improvement strategies such as Six Sigma, Lean, and Kaizen lead to proven advantages with measurable results.

Are quality assurance systems being maintained?

For the most part, today’s precision machine shops are ISO 9001 certified.  Some industries, however, require advanced certifications such as Aerospace AS9100 certification.  Whatever quality assurance you require, confirm that your supplier is in compliance with the documentation and daily discipline required for the certification.  Requirements such as first article inspection, critical features, and traceability paperwork are only effective if they are done correctly and on a regular basis.

The best way to assure quality in your precision machining process is to partner with a precision machining supplier that is focused on efficient total cost solutions for parts needs.