What are the factors you should consider before purchasing the right CNC machine tool for your manufacturing jobs?

From vertical to horizontal milling machines and lathes, to 5-axis machining centers, and multi-axis turning centers, CNC machine tools come in a wide variety of sizes, functions and performance.

Available in different dimensions and axes, with varying levels of quality and automation, CNC machine tools are important assets in your manufacturing business.

To purchase the right machine tool for your manufacturing needs, here are five things you should consider.

#1 Know Your Project Requirements

First and foremost, you need to have a clear assessment of your current and future production needs to avoid buying an undersized machine or an over specified machine.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the parts and materials that I wish the machine to produce?
  • What levels of precision will I require in making those parts?
  • How many axes would I need?
  • How do I balance between speed, accuracy, flexibility and price? In certain cases, choosing a slower model may mean more accuracy at a lower price.
  • What are the different sizes, complexity and grades of materials that I will be working with?

By asking yourself these questions, you can determine what performance and capabilities you’ll need as you move to the next stage.

#2 Consider the Best Machine Type



With such a wide array of machine types available, you will need to consider the best fit for your manufacturing jobs.

From our decades of experience in manufacturing and selling high performance CNC machine tools, we find that experienced customers usually look at the following factors before they choose a machine:

  • Dimensions, shapes and materials of parts to be manufactured
  • Production cycles and turnaround time, eg small vs large batch processing
  • Size of working spaces, eg table size, tool size, chuck size, and tool change time
  • Fixture length, width, height, number of parts produced in one cycle, and number of operations in one setting
  • Tool capacity and machine spindle power and performance (cutting force)
  • Types of tool holders, using BBT/CAT/BT/HSK (depending on cost or availability)
  • Degree of automation and the machine control needed
  • Compatibility with existing CAM software or other design programmes
  • Number of machining axes, which depends on the complexity of the pieces to be manufactured
  • Flexibility of the machines, ie can you run other jobs on it if another machine is down?
  • Cycle time of the machine
  • Turning vs milling machines

If you need to make parts which require both turning and milling, we recommend that you consider multi-tasking machine tools like C1 or the upgrade version C2.

For high precision and complex positioning or simultaneous machining needs, do consider multi-axis machines like our 5-axis Machining Centers (M3-5AX, M4-5AX, or SIRIUS-2500 5AX) or Hwacheon’s newly launched D2-5AX, a new concept 5-Axis Vertical Machining Centre for “high mix low volume” manufacturing.

In developed industries where the highest precision and premium quality molds are made, we recommend either our SMART machines or SIRIUS Series. Both machine tool lines offer powerful roughing and precise finish machining capabilities.

#3 Understanding CNC Machine Tool Prices 



With CNC machine tool costs ranging in price from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, machine purchases are often considered as high investments by manufacturing companies.

In working out your budget for your machine tool, you need to consider the options that you need. Most CNC machines come with commonly used options, with additional options for selection and other costs needed if you require greater manufacturing sophistication.

You need to also consider the trade-offs between price, quality and production output. A lower cost machine may be easier to stomach from the onset but may be unable to provide the speed and performance which your business demands. Conversely, overpaying for features which you do not need can affect your bottom-line.

#4 Understand Your Spare Parts and Maintenance Costs

Often overlooked are the parts and maintenance costs. In considering the right machine tool, you need to work out the life cycle costs of your investment.
A cheaper machine may be more expensive over its entire life span, due to the poorer quality of its machine parts. Breakdowns can also be frustrating for machine operators and owners, resulting in lost opportunity and foregone income.

#5 Origin of Machine and its Components – “Cheaper is not Better”



Every field has its competition. Wherever possible, machine tool buyers will try to locate the best machine for their needs at the cheapest available price. Machines made in technology advanced countries tend to have a higher quality and durability and may be priced higher. However, these may have a longer lifespan and less downstream maintenance needed.

Beyond country of origin, you need to also look at where its parts are made and assembled. Some machine tool makers may be based in countries with a strong engineering tradition, but their component parts are made and assembled in other countries.

Unlike some Korean manufacturers of machine tools, Hwacheon fabricates its machine parts and assembles them in Korea. We do not mass produce our machines nor do we allow them to be assembled by OEM companies in Korea or other countries. This includes the design and production of the spindle – the heart of every CNC machine.

In the past decades, the Korean industries has grown rapidly with the help of Korean machine tools. As one of the pioneers in CNC machine tool manufacturing in Korea , Hwacheon has contributed largely in this respect.