Businesses that want to produce complex parts and components may consider sourcing CNC equipment to use in-house as part of the prototyping or full-blown production process.
However, outsourcing this work to a third party instead is also an option today, which can bring a host of benefits to the table.
So should you go down the outsourcing route, or does investing in outright CNC machine ownership make more sense?
When you hire a contractor to complete CNC work for you, there is an explicit expectation that the quality of the equipment used and the resultant products will be high. This is the only way that outsourcing providers can gain a good reputation and satisfy the needs of clients.
Conversely, if you buy an old lathe machine in order to save cash on procuring CNC gear, or work with a less reputable third party CNC machining company, you could come up against quality control complications.
For this reason, the best route forward is to work with a respected, specialist CNC outsourcing provider. It is sensible to avoid cutting corners from both a quality and cost perspective.
Operating CNC equipment on-site has lots of budgetary implications that need to be calculated together so that you know exactly how much you will need to pay to get things up and running.
There is of course the upfront expense of the machinery itself, which can be steep, especially if you choose new units rather than going the second hand route.
Next you need to factor in other costs that will accumulate over time, such as the energy that the machinery will need to work, the material expenses and wastage that can occur, the maintenance requirements of equipment that will be necessary to keep it running smoothly, and the staffing expenses that will come with hiring skilled operators.
On the other hand, if you outsource CNC machining to a provider, you can avoid both the overwhelming upfront equipment costs as well as sidestepping the unavoidable ongoing production expenses detailed above.
Specific project requirements
Ultimately the question of whether outsourcing CNC machining makes sense for your business will come down to whether or not it makes sense for your needs at that particular moment in time.
If you are keen to complete a prototyping run as quickly and efficiently as possible, without having to undergo a lot of complex changes to internal processes as well as the expense of procuring the equipment to achieve this, then outsourcing is obviously the best route to take. You can enjoy all of the machinery and expertise on tap, without having to make a long term commitment.
Furthermore, outsourcing gives you access to as many different CNC services as possible, ranging from milling and turning to cleaning, etching and more, all with incredibly tight tolerances for that sought-after level of precision.
In short, there are many scenarios in which outsourcing CNC machining will be the most prudent option, although you should always consider this carefully before you make your decision.