There are plenty of machine shops around, but the odds are they all offer different services for different work. You will have to find one that would be ideal for your specific task. Here are a few questions that you should ask before you decide to give your precious prototypes or any other work to a machine shop:

What’s your current availability and lead time?

While asking any machine shop how fast they can complete your project seems like the right thing to do, you can do one better. Consider asking them about their standard lead-time, on average.

All actual timelines are dependent on multiple factors such as the availability of the material, and the complexity of the components involved. These factors may not be obvious at the start of the project. However, knowing how much time they take to turn around a project would give you an estimate of their total standard duration for individual products. 

If you need a rush order you should ask them about their current capacity. Even if their average turnover rate is one week; if they have multiple ongoing projects, they might not be able to accommodate you. It is crucial to be aware of this information before placing any rush order. 

Do you offer any post-processing services? 

Once you have shortlisted your machine shops, you should start asking about their post-processing as well.  Some machine shops outsource to third parties for work they can’t do in-house. It is pertinent to note that third-party vendors bring their own variables to the mix. If they are busy or shorthanded, your workflow might be disrupted. Since your preferred machine shop cannot control these variables, your entire project will depend upon the timeliness of people you don’t know. 

What is your USP?

Every business has its own intrinsic unique selling proposition (USP) that differentiates it from the others in its field. A few would have prototyping experts; others would work with CNC machines to mass-produce your parts. Ultimately, it is all about priorities. If the shop refuses to prioritize your work, maybe it’s time to find someone else.  

Communication is also a USP. If a machine shop can clearly communicate with you and show that they understand your requirements to the letter, you will be better off with them than many others. They should also clearly inform you about the progress or if there are any bottlenecks to the work, so that everyone is on the same page. 

Do you offer full-fledged production work?

There exist many shops that work specifically for large-scale production contracts. They will create your prototype and mass-produce it, so you won’t have to look for another vendor. 

However, mass-scale production means different things to different people. You should talk to them first to know their capabilities. 

Ronas Machine is the perfect machine shop in Erie, PA. We can easily handle your prototyping along with most post-production processes.  Just get in touch with us and we’ll handle the rest!