Positioning a CNC Machine Shop

Hey All,
I’m requesting a bit of feedback from the ID community.
I’m a mechanical engineer, not a IDer. I have quite a bit of experience working with IDers. Medical products, consumer electronics and Lighting. I have experience designing injection molded parts, castings, sheet metal and machined parts. A few years back, I left engineering to open a CNC machine shop that also provides design engineering services. My company name is A2P or Art-to-Part. Basically, I can design, prototype (3D printer and CNC) and manufacture (CNC). One stop shopping.

As it turns out, making the same part over and over is pretty boring. I have the most satisfaction working with ID houses to prototype and manufacture (in small quantities) their parts. I only have one such customer and would like to attract more.

So here’s my question to you all. How best can I market or position my company to attract work from ID houses?
When you send designs out to be made, what areas are you most concerned with? Turn around time? Low Cost? Precision/Accuracy? Technology? Would you be more apt to use a prototype shop that understands the manufacturing process and can provide feedback?..In general, what are all the things you look for in a prototype house?

Thanks in advance.

Need to have really high quality work, cheap prices and super fast turnaround. Model making always seems to come down to the last second, I usually go with the guys who I know can get it done at a really high level despite the really short timeline.

Capacity. I want to know you run at a very low capacity.

Running lean is easy when you are doing production in the millions, but that is never the case with ID. We try to know when exactly we will need parts but research can be delayed or pushed-up at a moments notice for an infinate amount of reasons. We need parts when we need parts. I want to know that if I come to you with a $50 job or a $50,000 job, you can handle either without delay. I try to work local as much as I can, it tends to be worth the value over off-shoring a job. But I just had to off-shore a small job (25K IM parts the size of a fist) because everyone local was at capacity and had to delay the job.

So I am asking you to make a huge capital expenditure to make my life easy.

Price isn’t much of an issue because what I have seen (maybe a sample of 10-12) is that all shop rates are within $5. Turn-around is related to capacity but when it isn’t, you can always overnight a package. DHL from China is 3 days, not that much of a big deal. Accuracy and precision should be an anti-up for a small run. Expertise and turn-key is also needed but a lot of places offer that, I wouldn’t know how you can differentiate yourself with expertise.

I’m going to agree with both Brett-nyc & iab → Capacity is key. I would say that almost every client I work with from the major OEM right down to the 1 -2 man design shop really needs a reliable manufacturer they know can handle last minute jobs as easily as jobs that aren’t so pressed for time. Can you take on a moderately difficult part on a friday afternoon & have it ready to ship monday or tuesday? & will it look good?

From your post it seems as you are relying on your 3D printer & a CNC to do jobs. Do you have a back up plan for when a ridiculously expensive tiny part that only seems to exist in the mind of reclusive service people that disappear when you blink, but are totally sure that a burro coming from the peaks of whatever remote mountain top your equipment manufacturer has hidden it for safe keeping… can be yours in 2 - 6 weeks?

As the manufacturer it’s your responsibility to be on time. The due date is the due date & most companies will forget your name if you let them down. Price, quality & expertise have no bearing when your client has to explain to their client why you are late.

Good luck! :smiley: