In any area where this is fabrication, manufacturing, and production, you will find machine shops. Some of these machine shops will be small family-owned and operated businesses that cater to small orders, individual or custom projects or even the production of prototypes.
There are also large shops that specialize in CNC precision machining as well as production CNC machining. These shops tend to work with OEMs that require small volume orders through to large volume production runs.
Comparing the different shops and the different machine shop services will be instrumental in finding the business to partner with for your project.
The best machine shop services will include engineering support. While not an engineering and design service, they typically provide reviews of designs submitted and work with OEMs to find the most effective and lowest cost production methods.
Some of the services include reverse engineering capabilities. This is important to recreate parts that are no longer available, often saving customers the cost of completely replacing systems or equipment.
Even for relatively simple projects, working with a machine shop with extensive services is a good option and worth considering. The broader the expertise and experience of the machine shop, the more this knowledge and expertise can be incorporated into your current or future projects.
Most OEMs should look for machine shop services that include prototyping through to production. They should also ask about the ability to provide precision machining services to meet specific company or industry standards. Check to make sure the machine shop has experience in working with metals as well as plastics if this is a consideration in the industry.
Capacity is another essential consideration. If a machine shop is always producing to full capacity, increasing your order levels becomes a significant problem.