Precision Fabrication Frequently Asked Questions │ CNC Routing & Machined Parts Manufacturing Answers
Precision Fablab has put together this FAQ page sourced by recurring inquiries like: Why do I need to provide a computer drawing (CAD) to get a quote? What is you lead time? If we have not addressed it below, do email or call us!
Frequently Asked Questions
What materials can be CNC routed/machined at your machine shop?
We CNC cut solid woods such as Alder, Beech , Birch, Cedar, Cherry, Cypress, Elm, Fir, Hickory, Mahogany, Maple, Oak, Pine, Poplar, Red Oak, Redwood, Rosewood, Ash, Spruce, Sycamore, Teak, Walnut, White Oak, and Reclaimed Live Edge Wood Slabs. As far as plywoods & engineered sheet we machine Softwood Plywood, Hardwood Plywood, Hardboard (HDF), Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), Extira, Melamine Particleboard, Paper Composite Panel, Lumber Core, Laminated Veneer, Veneer Core MDF and Ply, Richlite, Bamboo Ply, Ultra Gloss Panels and Flakeboard. We also CNC route plastics & specialty materials like Alumalite, Aluminium (ACM), Solid Surface, Acrylic, Acetal, Delrin, PVC, Renshape, Epoxy Board, Nylon, Acrylic/Plexiglas, Polycarbonate/Lexan, High-density polyethylene (HDPE), Low-density polyethylene (LDPE), Sintra, Styrene, Polyurethane Sheet, High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS), Kydex, High Density Urethane (HDU), Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethyelene (UHMW), Cross-link Polyethylene Foam (XLPE) Sign Foam, Gator foam, Sheet Insulation, Expanded Polystyrene Styrofoam (EPS), Extruded Polystyrene Foam(XPS), Natural & Synthetic Rubber and Cardboard. We also machine aluminum, brass, copper, carbon steel, stainless steel, alloy or plastics like: Acetal, CPVC, Delrin®, Duratron, PAI®, ETFE, FEP, Fluorosint®, Halar®, Kynar®, Neoflon®, Nylatron®, Nylon, PCTFE, Peek, Polyimide, PPS, Polyurethane, PVC, Rulon®, Ryton®, Semitron®, Techtron®, Tefzel®, Torlon®, Turcite®, UHMW, Ultem®, Vespel®, Kel-F®
What kind of material do you stock?
We do not stock material we do order the material once we receive a purchase order or if you purchase the material, we can receive it from material distributors. If you prefer, you may also bring the material to our shop.
I need a CNC routing/machining quote; what kind of machining services do you offer?
We do CNC routing 2D or 3D on wood or plastic sheet goods, metal and plastics milling, turning, drilling, threading, tapping, part design, prototyping, reverse engineering, low volume or one-off part machine runs, modification of an existing part, material sourcing assistance, limited material warehousing and parts dispatching. To receive a quote, just send a CAD file via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your hours of operation?
We work Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm EST. You may always email your CAD (computer-aided design) files along with the necessary information to email@example.com
Which industries use your CNC machine shop services?
We serve the architectural, engineering, event planning, trade show, design, food processing, hospitality, education sector, entertainment, movie, advertising, plant operations, repair and service, retail and of course, we are open to extend our CNC routing and machining services to more industries.
I'm looking to create several prototypes and I have my CAD drawings exported to DXF format. Is this sufficient for getting a quote/proceeding?
Yes in most cases, especially with better software like AutoCAD®.
Do you use SketchUp?
Exporting a DXF/DWG from SketchUp is ok, but please be aware that the arcs and circles created in that software would be segmented when brought into our CAM software. When the arc/lines are segmented the material will be cut segmented as well and not as a true arc or circle unless we re-draw the entity.
What modeling software do you prefer to use?
Inventor, SolidWorks™, and Solid Edge. For the more inexpensive modeling software consider Rhino or Autodesk® Fusion360™ which is a robust, modeling software with huge save/export options. If you find yourself working with companies that use CNC machining centers, turning centers, routers and 3D printers a lot, you might want to make a switch.
What type of files do you accept?
We accept DXF - DWG - IPT SLDPRT - X_T - STEP – IGES
Do you offer CNC machining for individuals or just companies?
We work with both individuals and manufacturing companies.
Do you do work on site?
All work is done in our shop at this time.
What is your lead time?
This will depend on several conditions that we can chat about once we have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. We work on a first come first serve basis, consequently our work load will factor in. After the receipt of a purchase order in writing, file completed, and materials are available, we could say five business days to six weeks lead time. This will be subject to the complexity of the parts and quantities of the parts ordered.
We only respond to RFQ emails that include a telephone number. We receive a high volume of inquiries therefore having the option to call or email is appreciated.
Can you provide finishing for my existing or custom parts?
Precision Fablab does not supply finishing options in our shop. However we have vendors we do outsource to fulfill your powder coating, anodizing, heat treating, plating, abrasive blasting, metal brushing, tumbling and grinding needs. We are not a work brokerage and everything we promote that we do, is in fact done in-house. Other companies claim to do everything in their shop. If we can’t do what you need, we’ll tell you upfront that we don’t. We will point you in the direction of how you’d want to do it and who can do it for you, if possible.
Do you accept small quantity jobs?
We are geared toward production but we gladly accept small quantities. You may order one part or thousands. We do view each order individually therefore larger orders will automatically receive a price reduction. We do have a $300.00 USD minimum amount per order to cover basic CAD file prep and physical setup.
Do you accept credit cards?
For your convenience we do accept cash, company checks and all major credit cards.
Can you make a replica of a part I have?
We can duplicate a part in certain instances but we would have to see it and determine so. Feel free to send us a picture of your part via email. If you are in our area, you are welcome to set up an appointment to bring us your part. If you are outside our area then just mail the part to us.
Can you modify a part that I have?
We would need to see it.
What places are you able to ship to?
We offer Continental US Shipping.
Do you do manual machining or just CNC machining?
We do both types of machining; however a drawing needs to exist in order to machine the part no matter which process we use.
I do not have a CAD drawing; will you still work with me?
If you do not have a CAD drawing, consider our relationship as client designer collaborative interaction. We would have to create a CAD drawing which would generate an upfront designer fee.
Why do you need a CAD drawing to cut a simple rectangle, circle or letters?
Even the simplest of shapes require a CAD drawing. That CAD drawing will be imported into CAM (computer-aided manufacturing) software. From that drawing, we would utilize the geometry to apply toolpath to all entities intended to be machined. We also want to avoid the liability of cutting something that wasn’t approved by you.
A CNC machine is a computer-controlled cutting machine used in the manufacturing world. It involves the use of computers to control the machine tools via G-code. G-code is the universal name for the most commonly used numerically controlled (NC) programming language. This language is used by CNC programmers directing the machine tool to execute the desired actions and movements in order to cut precision parts. Therefore only a CAD drawing could be used in the CAM software that both gives us a visual representation and controls the machine.
Why do you need to design and machine a workholding component to machine my parts?
CNC machines move at a very high rate of speed combined with a massive amount of torque. Maintaining the desired fixed position throughout the force of cutting ensures repeatable results. If the part moves while being machined, the high tolerances of the part will be compromised. Therefore machining a “jig” or workholding fixture may be required in order to complete the part.