Machine shops offer services that can allow you to create or modify a part or product to specific specifications so that the piece meets your needs. Many times the machine shop can help you design your item as well, but if you have an engineering drawing or a blueprint for the part, the machinist can work from it to make exactly what you need.
CNC or computer numerical control machining is a system that allows all the cuts and modifications made to a piece of material to be laid out in a computer then programmed into the CNC equipment. Sometimes that is a multiple head machine that can turn, cut, mill, and drill parts of the material without having to remove it from the machine. Other times a single process can be CNC controlled, like in the case of a CNC lathe.
Using the correct equipment for the job is essential, and a good machine shop will be able to determine the best option based on your drawings or prints. There are times that manual processes are a better option, but you may want to discuss that with the machinist.
Milling is a process of removing material from some metal in small amounts and using very specific cutters. Sometimes the amount of material to come off can be thousandths of an inch, and the machinist needs to be extremely careful as they work. While the CNC machine can take off those tiny amounts of material, it may take much longer to set up, and an experienced machinist can set of the mill and make the cuts quicker and just as accurately manually.
Often a single hole or channel in a single block of material or in an existing part that you're modifying is not worth setting up a program to run. Prototyping is often done by hand, and when the final cuts are made, and the process and measurement are finalized, the process can then be transferred to an automated system like a CNC mill.
It'a common for a machine shop to have an engineer on staff to help clients determine what they need from the product that shop is making for them. The engineer may be a machinist as well and can work with the client and translate the information to the machinist that is working on the client's project.
Working with a machine shop that has an in-house engineer on staff can open the lines of communication between the client and the machinist, resulting in an end product that meets your needs.
Learn more about working with a milling machine shop today.