Stecker Machine Blog

What CNC Engineering Services Help Drive Manufacturing Success?

06/15/2022 | Greg Herr

When you think of CNC machining, you may think about precision machining. Complex parts. Repeatability. Speed.

However, do you think of engineering expertise?

You should! An incredible value in partnering with the right CNC machine shop is engineering that drives the entire manufacturing process. From design through packaging, you should be receiving full CNC engineering services and benefitting from them.

A strong engineering team on the machine shop side ensures that CNC machining projects are done rightthe first time and every time. Of course, thorough engineering impresses customers. More importantly, though, it leads to parts that consistently meet or exceed specifications.

Designing from Experience. Partnering for Success.

The pressure is on OEMs in the manufacturing world, with the correct parts needed quickly. For CNC machining pros, that often means providing CNC engineering expertise without taking time to analyze multiple options and test them. In other words, knowing how to design and build what works the first time.

Hands-on experience is irreplaceable. Most CNC engineers started as CNC operators and developed their careers from there. With production experience in the back pocket, an engineer may create a design that optimizes loading ability, which drives a process that has built-in efficiency. It’s a partner like this — with experienced engineers who put extra emphasis on error-proofing and robust tooling — that regularly produce great results.

Engineering the Entire Manufacturing Process

Yes, high-end CNC engineering services include understanding and handling the small details that can derail a project. They also include seeing the entire manufacturing process, from concept to construction.

True experts — a team of engineers that build everything from work-holding fixtures to final packaging —  influence every step of the process. Some individuals specialize in tooling, some design fixtures, and some program the CNC machines

CNC Engineering Services

  • Fixture designing
  • Fixture building: machining and assembly
  • Tooling
  • Programming
  • Processing
  • Packaging 
  • Additional specialty engineering: pressure testing, assembly, automation

These abilities, and a proven process‚ get jobs done properly and on time. Once a project is handed off from the sales team, the ball rolls quickly into a design process similar to this:

Engineering Design Process

  1. Job is awarded.
  2. Project and timeline are entered into the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and communicated to the new jobs team.
  3. Program iteration is started, and tasks are assigned, ranging from engineering design to the quality processes.
  4. Process routing is created, including choosing the work centers and scheduling. 
  5. Design work is completed. Quality team works in parallel.
  6. Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) meeting is held to review the design and the process, reviewing all details.
  7. Project is released to production. The CNC programmer and tooling engineer work closely with production to ensure each project runs smoothly out of the gate.

Occasionally, most often with large partner projects, the engineering team gets involved early with the sales team to review prints, create concepts, and propose machines. Plus, the engineering team works closely with a foundry to sort out details.

Going All-In on Quality

Some CNC engineering services may initially seem like overkill, but that’s what sets great CNC machining partners apart. For instance, a shop may use hydraulics on fixtures for consistent, automated work-holding. Hydraulic components add to costs, yet their speed and repeatability outperform manual work-holding by so much that it’s worth it for long-running, high-quality, and consistent production.

Another example: error-proofing is built into many processes. Whenever possible, fixtures include misload prevention, meaning they’re designed to interfere with misloaded parts so they cannot be clamped. If a part is too symmetric to prevent misloading by mechanical poka-yoke, probing is used. Probing adds to the machine cycle time, yet it provides a precise measurement to ensure that the part is in the correct orientation.

Going “all-in” on quality also includes providing critical documentation of all production processes. What’s covered? Instructions for setup, loading, deburring, pressure testing, and packaging, helping to make sure any operator, regardless of experience, runs a job correctly and efficiently. Beyond production, some shops also design CMM fixtures for every part to ensure repeatability.

Engineering CNC Machining Projects for Success

Stecker Machine is known for the strength of our engineering department, and for big projects, we’re “all hands on deck.” One instance was when we were awarded 30 parts at one time. It took the entire team stepping up and running our process to deliver all of the high-quality parts on time.

Stecker is known for tackling complex parts, welcoming the challenge. On projects where other CNC machine shops fail, we use our CNC engineering services, experience, and can-do attitude to succeed. The final parts impress our customers, yet expert engineering during the entire CNC manufacturing process is really the proven, winning formula.

Our engineering team is ready to work on your project. Submit your Request for Quote (RFQ) online, by phone, or by email.

Not sure if you’re ready to work with a high-end CNC machine shop? That’s OK. Learn more about these partnerships by clicking the link below to access this guide: When Do You Know It’s Time to Work With a High-End CNC Machine Shop?

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Greg Herr

About the Author

For his Program Management responsibilities at Stecker Machine, Greg provides upfront design for manufacturing reviews and performs technology reviews for customers (high-level, upfront proposals showing machines, fixtures, processes, and special tools). Greg also assigns tasks to the Engineering team and manages the Fixture Build team. Greg worked his way up the SMC ranks from Machine Operator to Engineer. His nickname, "The Big Ticket," was earned by running the company's annual golf outing and NCAA basketball bracket (for entertainment purposes only).

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