What is Custom Machining?

Custom machining is creating components you cannot source from a supplier. Most of the time, custom machining providers use computer numerical control (CNC) machines that can complete multiple functions, such as cutting and drilling in a single setup. A CNC machine works well for single parts or large batches of the same component.

Custom machining services are ideal when you need to create prototypes or have a discontinued part made to keep essential equipment running. Most reliable providers generally offer minimal wait times so you can get your components promptly. Learn more about what custom machining is and when it’s a good solution for your business. 

How Custom Machining Works

Custom machining may involve numerous steps to take a parts request from concept to functional product. If the part is fairly simple, it might be made on a manual lathe or mill. However, most people who request custom machining do so because they need a complex component that must be made on an advanced machine — such as a multiaxis CNC mill — they don’t have available in their own shop.

In these cases, the process generally goes as follows:

  • 2D and 3D designs: Engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create 2D drawings and 3D models.
  • Drawing installation: The engineers use those drawings and models to write coded programs containing tool paths, stops, tool changes and other measures that the CNC machine will follow to make the part. 
  • Processing specifications: The operator loads the program into the machine and ensures that all the required tools are present and set up correctly. 
  • Feedback: The operator completes a trial run to make sure the program will run with no collisions or other issues. They may choose to do a dry run, where the tool moves in the air above the workpiece to simulate cutting, or a test run on a material like wood. 
  • Final product: Once the program has been proved, the operator will use the actual requested material to make the part. 

When Do You Need Custom Machining? 

When custom CNC machining is a good investment depends on the parts and products required for your business and how quickly you need them. The following are a few of the instances when you might need to work with a custom machining provider.

Make Discontinued or Nonstandardized Components

Custom machining services can create discontinued or nonstandardized components you can’t find elsewhere. For example, a company using a decades-old horizontal mill that no longer receives supplier support may need a replacement part to keep that mill running. They can send the original piece and any documentation they have to a custom machining provider and ask the engineers to reverse-engineer and recreate it. 

Manufacture Precise Parts

CNC machines offer a high degree of accuracy and can cut a wide range of materials, including plastic, steel and wood. They also provide many different capabilities — custom machining providers can use these machines to perform machining operations such as reaming, boring, broaching and slitting in a single setup. This versatility enables CNC machinists to create an impressive variety of complex parts. 

Create Prototypes for New Inventions

Use custom machining to make inventions you want to test and use. These services let you take ideas and drawings and turn them into usable parts with the help of skilled engineers and machine operators. If you’re evaluating a new business offering, working with a custom machining provider to produce it is an excellent way to gain proof of concept before you invest in large-scale manufacturing. 

Produce Emergency Parts

Emergencies can happen at any time. If one affects your business, a custom CNC machining provider will make critical parts quickly and efficiently so you can minimize downtime. Whether you need them to take over production for you or produce a key component for your manufacturing resources, they can help your company keep going. 

Affordable Option

Custom machining offers a one-stop shop that can provide all your unique products and components. These services are ideal for testing new ideas and doing limited product runs without requiring your company to sink capital into a major machinery investment. 

Benefits of Custom Machining

Along with the benefits above, custom machining offers several other advantages during and after the manufacturing process:

  • Custom parts: Having a product made is sometimes the only way to secure parts that are discontinued or require a high degree of customization. 
  • Custom quantities: These providers can create small batches or large quantities to fit your requirements.
  • Quality products: Working with a custom CNC machining company lets you collaborate with engineers and ensure your component meets your specifications. 
  • Potential finish options: Some providers give you the option of requesting custom finishes for your parts, such as paint or powder coating. 

Custom Machining Services CNC Capabilities

Though different providers will have various machine types, most will be able to offer these typical services:

CNC Turning

A CNC lathe is a machine that cuts material by spinning it against a cutting tool that moves perpendicularly, at angles and along the axis of rotation. This process is known as turning. Lathes can also be used to drill, ream, knurl and perform other operations.

CNC Milling

CNC milling involves using a rotating spindle to move a cutting tool into a workpiece. The operator mounts the piece to the mill’s table to keep it rigid during cutting. The milling machine then moves around the workpiece, removing material to create the desired shape. CNC mills can also perform an extensive range of processes and feature an automatic carousel that contains different tools — the machine can switch between tools on its own without operator input, allowing it to perform numerous tasks in one setup.

Electric Discharge Machining (EDM)

EDM uses electrical discharge to create a spark that burns through a material. In this process, workers place the material in a dielectric fluid. The machine moves over the workpiece at a set distance according to its programming, emitting sparks to cut different shapes, sizes and features. 

CNC Laser Cutting Machine

CNC laser cutting machines use laser beams to slice through and shape a piece of stock. The heat of the laser beam removes and vaporizes the material, leaving minimal waste behind. When working at a high power setting, the laser machine will cut through the material. On low power, it can engrave designs into the surface.

Additional Services From Your Custom Machining Provider

Some custom machining providers offer value-added services like the following along with their machining capabilities:

  • Assembling components to create a final product
  • Performing finishing services like powder coating or anodizing
  • Packaging and shipping products to you or your customers

Contact PBZ Manufacturing for Your Custom Machining Needs

PBZ Manufacturing offers high-quality custom machining services to serve your business. We cover all processes in the supply chain, from 2D and 3D modeling to custom finishes to shipping your product. 

Our CNC center uses industry-leading machinery to deliver components that fit your specifications perfectly. From our experienced engineers to certified welders, our team is here to help you every step of the way. Take a look at our custom machining service page for more information.

To learn more about our capabilities and get your project started, complete our online contact form or request a quote today

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