When you are committed to quality work, outsourcing can become a bit of a stressor. Putting your faith in another business to reach your goal can be a challenge and source of anxiety.
But choosing the right partner to outsource work to can actually reduce your stress, cut your costs, and improve your efficiency. This is especially true with a laser cutting service where expensive equipment and specialized skills are outside the realm of your normal business operations.
Laser cutting shops can help you prototype new products, explore new metal options, and even add a touch of style. A good shop should work with you to ensure your design can be manufactured efficiently and effectively.
So how do you choose a service for your laser cutting projects? Here are a few factors you should consider as you talk to potential partners.
Tapping into an outside source allows you to take advantage of the most up-to-date laser cutting machines and other machine shop tools. You want a shop that has those technologies since they make laser cutting faster and more cost-effective. Newer systems have automated material handling capabilities, minimal set-up time, and high levels of precision.
When interviewing shops, ask about how thick their laser can cut, how precisely, and which metals they can work with. Two important benefits laser cutting gives you are tight tolerances and detailed cuts. It's important to know their equipment can deliver on both of those.
As important as the latest equipment is the knowledge and training of the team who will work on your project. You want to know that they have experience working with different metals since the heat from the laser can warp certain metals. When it comes to laser cutting, experience matters due to the technical nature of the work.
A quick look through previous work examples will give you a good idea of the types of projects the shop can handle and their level of experience. You want to make sure they have worked on jobs similar to what you need, as well as that they have the skill to tackle new ones.
Their portfolio should give you a good idea of the breadth of their laser cutting experience by showing you many different types of projects. You also want to see their depth of experience with lots of examples of specific skills. For example, your project might require someone with skill in creating intricate patterns rather than a focus on getting precision cuts.
Take time to verify these skills with their previous and current clients. References and reviews allow you to learn more about what it’s like to work with the team as well as confirm their skill set. While online reviews can give you a good starting point, don't rely on them alone to get a sense of how the shop works.
When you start talking about precision cuts, quality control plays a key part in getting the work done. While certifications aren’t a guarantee, ISO 9001 standards do give you some reassurance that you’re working with a shop with a solid quality management system in place.
Ask about how they check accuracy and tolerances and how often they calibrate their equipment. They should also be able to run you through the types of inspections they do of their machines and the final products as well as how often they happen.
Saying you have a commitment to customer service is great, but pay attention to how well your potential laser-cutting partner communicates with you. They should listen to your needs and, even more important, ask good questions. Clear communication is critical to getting a job done quickly and accurately.
If you’ve taken the time to talk to their past customers, you should have a good idea of how the shop will work with you and if they respond quickly to changes. You want a shop that takes advantage of technology in this area as well. They should make it easy for you to send drawings and update information easily through email or online.
Flexibility allows you to keep your work with one shop rather than having to send it out to different places to have different types of jobs done. You want a shop that can do the routine and mundane types of cutting but also one that can handle special orders.
Laser cutting machines are becoming more flexible all the time, which means more can be asked of them. If the shop is working with state-of-the-art equipment, they should be able to do just about any work you need.
You might also want a shop that has the production flexibility to do small prototype projects along with large production runs.
The addition of material handles and programmable modes make modern laser cutters super-efficient at their job. They can get your project out faster, which cuts down on overall costs for you.
Proper quality control also means you’ll get the accuracy you need the first time. This saves you time and reduces product waste from parts that don’t fit properly.
No matter what your metal project, a quality laser cutting service serves as a key partner to ensuring the project’s success. From equipment to experience, the factors discussed here can help you choose the right shop for your work.
If you need a metal fabricator for an upcoming project, contact us to talk over the details of the work and get a quote. Our shop is ISO 9001 certified and equipped with state-of-the-art laser cutting systems to provide high-precision profiles.