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Since 1966, Allied Threaded Metals has provided specialty fastener machining services in Houston, TX, and since has grown into a full machine shop with customers nationwide. From the beginning, they have specialized in manual machining and since have added CNC machining services. Allied Threaded Metals offers expertise that can help customers reduce CNC machining costs and determine when to use manual machining to keep costs low.

The company emphasizes precision and customer service while focusing on fast turnaround time. Allied Threaded Metals and their highly skilled machinists utilize the latest CNC turning machines to provide rapid, custom machined prototype and production parts. They also utilize milling, turning, drilling, tapping, threading, and sawing to manually machine parts, further reducing lead and turnaround times.

When is Manual Machining Appropriate?

In the debate over when it is most appropriate to use manual machining rather than CNC machining, Tool Holder Exchange simply refers to the old adage: Use the right tool for the job. It is less about the superiority of one process over the other – both have their place. It is more about the nature of the job and understanding how to utilize the processes at hand to fulfill the order in a precise, efficient, and cost-effective manner.

The biggest benefit of manual machining is the potential for time savings which often translates into cost savings for the customer as well as the machine shop. Low- or single-volume orders, such as prototypes or small specialty runs, are ideal opportunities for the machine shop to employ manual machining to keep costs low. In these instances, it may likely take more time to set up and program a CNC lathe than it would to simply manually machine the part. Of course, while one potential shortcoming of manual machining is a less-experienced machinist, a well-established machine shop employing well-seasoned and highly-skilled machinists know how when to use manual machining to keep costs low and quality high.

Conversely, manual machining may not be appropriate for orders requiring a high volume of indistinguishable components. Two primary benefits of CNC machining are precision and uniformity. CNC machining largely is autonomous, so human error is nearly eliminated from the process. Once the CNC lathe is programed and prepared and the machining process has started, it may not even require an operator, freeing an experienced machinist to manually machine a small-volume order.

In an experienced shop with seasoned machinists, understanding how and when to best deploy the resources at hand, including time, material, machines, and people, can result in significant cost and time savings for both customer and shop.

Tips for Keeping Machining Costs Low

Compared to manual machining, CNC machining is an expensive process. Doing and redoing any operation, on a manual or CNC lathe, can quickly overwhelm any budget. When embarking on a high-volume machining job and considering how to reduce CNC machining costs, understanding, identifying, and controlling potential cost variables are critical.

Some of the most common cost-increasing factors include overly specific tolerances, expensive materials, and elaborate surface finishes. Thomasnet.com identifies several common considerations for reducing CNC machining costs.

  • Raw material selection: Expensive doesn’t always mean better. Select materials that are readily available, meet design and precision requirements, and fit within a budget. Inexpensive materials like aluminum may serve well for functional prototyping.
  • Reduce the number of setups: Each machined part involves one or several operations, each requiring a series of setups: Machine setup; CAM programming; part fixturing; material setup; and perhaps even more. Reducing the number of setups reduces setup time which is how to reduce CNC machining costs.
  • Specify tolerances for critical features: Whether CNC machining or manually machining for that matter, specifications are crucial. Part design, however, significantly impacts production costs. Maintaining standard tolerances for general features helps control this expense.
  • Maintain a standard radius for inside corners: Milling small, specific radii for inside corners is expensive, time-consuming, and often requires special setups.
  • Cut down on machining time: Machining time is usually governed by two factors: raw material and part design. When considering how to reduce CNC machining costs, select machinable materials like aluminum, low-carbon alloys, and brass and design parts as simply as possible.
  • Reduce nonrecurring engineering costs: Whenever possible, minimize one-time costs for researching, designing, developing, and testing new products.
  • Avoid nonstandard fixturing: Soft jaws, sine bars, etc. require separate setups and CAM programs.
  • Bulk buying: A machine shop that buys raw material in bulk can compensate for larger unit expenses.

Allied Threaded Metals Machining Services

Allied Threaded Metals delivers machining services from Houston, TX to customers nationwide. With 24/7 customer service, they pride themselves on delivering accurate quotes and manufacturing high-quality products in a timely manner. Allied Threaded Metals accommodates orders of all sizes and specifications and can machine parts from aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, copper, bronze, and more.

Whether short-run prototypes requiring skilled manual machining, or larger CNC machining orders, Allied Threaded Metals has the necessary resources and equipment to quickly and efficiently machine any project to exact specifications. They can also guide customers in understanding when to use manual machining to keep costs low.

Contact Allied Threaded Metals today for a quote.

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