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  1. #1
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    Post Starting a small shop

    Hi all,

    I hope this is the right forum to ask for some pointers about starting a small machine shop from the ground up. This is my first post, and a very fresh idea that I'm trying to expand on, so bear with me for the amateur questions.

    I've been programming CNCs for about 5 years now for various prototyping shops. I feel that I have enough knowledge to make good parts, but I understand that is likely less than half the battle when owning a machine shop.



    -Is it best to spend money out of pocket if funds are available, or to use small business loans?

    I have about $30,000 to spend out of pocket on a machine(s) and tooling. Not sure if that is smarter to avoid loan interest, or if loans are smarter if the company flops and bankruptcy is the only option. (I'll be taking some business courses soon, so that might help with this question).

    -What kind of machines are best to start out with?

    I suppose it all depends on the market of what kind of parts are needed in my area. I'm torn between spending around $10,000 on something like a Tormach 770M (770M Compact CNC Mill | Tormach) to give myself some breathing room while starting out, or to splurge on something like the decked out Tormach PCNC 1100 (PCNC 1100 - Tormach Inc.) for $26,000 which would spend most of my out of pocket funds, but would provide most of the tooling and machine capabilities I'm looking for.

    I'm open to looking at brands other than Tormach, but I could use some advice in competing brands.

    There's also the option of financing a brand new HAAS. I'm very familiar with the VF series, so this way I could avoid a steep learning curve when starting off.

    LOTS of options, but also lots of time to research and think about this. Any advice/tips will be appreciated.

    Thanks

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  3. #2
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    Do a search, this comes up couple times a month. Basically to many shops and everyone has pretty much the same capacity.

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    Too much open spindle time looking for too little work.

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    Unless you have a product or a niche you will be trying to take a slice of a pie that has been divided too many times. A Tormach is basically a glorified toy, true you can learn on it and make parts on it but it will be way too slow to sell machine time at a decent rate in this market. Also if your only skill is programming you are in for a hard expensive lesson trying to start a shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWazowski View Post
    Hi all,

    I hope this is the right forum to ask for some pointers about starting a small machine shop from the ground up. This is my first post, and a very fresh idea that I'm trying to expand on, so bear with me for the amateur questions.

    I've been programming CNCs for about 5 years now for various prototyping shops. I feel that I have enough knowledge to make good parts, but I understand that is likely less than half the battle when owning a machine shop.



    -Is it best to spend money out of pocket if funds are available, or to use small business loans?

    I have about $30,000 to spend out of pocket on a machine(s) and tooling. Not sure if that is smarter to avoid loan interest, or if loans are smarter if the company flops and bankruptcy is the only option. (I'll be taking some business courses soon, so that might help with this question).

    -What kind of machines are best to start out with?

    I suppose it all depends on the market of what kind of parts are needed in my area. I'm torn between spending around $10,000 on something like a Tormach 770M (770M Compact CNC Mill | Tormach) to give myself some breathing room while starting out, or to splurge on something like the decked out Tormach PCNC 1100 (PCNC 1100 - Tormach Inc.) for $26,000 which would spend most of my out of pocket funds, but would provide most of the tooling and machine capabilities I'm looking for.

    I'm open to looking at brands other than Tormach, but I could use some advice in competing brands.

    There's also the option of financing a brand new HAAS. I'm very familiar with the VF series, so this way I could avoid a steep learning curve when starting off.

    LOTS of options, but also lots of time to research and think about this. Any advice/tips will be appreciated.

    Thanks

    The obvious hole here ---> get Financing on a second hand HAAS VF... You could even teach yourself 5 axis with a trunnion.

    Work part time.

    Hook up with folks in your area that need your skills, offer something different.

    _____________________________________________


    Google ---> YouTube and FullthrottleCNC , he thrashed that one out pretty thoroughly. He bought a HAAS VF second hand but he makes his own products and was an automotive manufacturing design engineer; he ditched his Tormach.

    Google ---> Nerdly and CNC and HAAS , he thrashed that one out pretty thoroughly too. New HAAS versus Tormach BUT he should have bought the VF first rather than the mini mill for his applications.

    Nerdly also recently smashed his 5 axis knuckle style trunnion 'cuz of BUG on the 2nd gen control (he'll be making a video about that). ~ HAAS said it was a bug on the control and the mill head just let go plunged into the 5 axis unit. Soooo older control is not too bad right ? [He makes his own products too / niche market ~ he re-shored his work from China as he said " doing business in China was like dancing on the head of a snake... eventually you will get bitten.". ]. He seems to be doing OK.

    _______________________________


    If everything goes tits up ~ sell your HAAS, I'd still recommend working part time / day~ job different from small shop 100% of time. Use the stuff at home to raise your game maybe for a better day job ?

    ________

    Also check out Fryer Machine Systems Inc. - CNC toolroom lathes milling machines machining centers

    ^^^ Fryer machine tools and maybe also Affordable CNC Machine | Best CNC Machines | SYIL CNC

    Syil ? Nerdly bought one of those too for higher spindle speed stuff in plastics etc.

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    A used haas or used fadal if it doesn’t work out you can resale the machine for nearly every penny!
    Don


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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    I like how syil has big American flag, but clearly states made in China. And I bet the price went way up

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    Start by building a QMS. This guy has a free kit. Go through the steps and set it up. You will learn alot. Plus side,] its alot easier to get ISO9001 when you have very little to document. Start good habits from the beginning.

    Oxebridge Totally Free ISO 9001:2015 QMS Documentation Template Kit - Oxebridge Quality Resources

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aejgx6 View Post
    Start by building a QMS. This guy has a free kit. Go through the steps and set it up. You will learn alot. Plus side,] its alot easier to get ISO9001 when you have very little to document. Start good habits from the beginning.

    Oxebridge Totally Free ISO 9001:2015 QMS Documentation Template Kit - Oxebridge Quality Resources
    Why would a one man shop starting out want to spend any time working toward a ISO9001 certification?

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    Because without quality, you make crap.

    Get ISO9001 habits formed from day one and your chances of succeeding go up some 60%

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Because without quality, you make crap.

    Get ISO9001 habits formed from day one and your chances of succeeding go up some 60%
    BS. AS and ISO have nothing to do with making good parts. Good parts come from good planning, programming, attention to detail, and quality employees who take pride in their work. Passing a BS audit conducted by someone who knows nothing about the processes they're auditing to get a piece of paper doesn't make your parts any better.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by cb750chris View Post
    BS. AS and ISO have nothing to do with making good parts. Good parts come from good planning, programming, attention to detail, and quality employees who take pride in their work. Passing a BS audit conducted by someone who knows nothing about the processes they're auditing to get a piece of paper doesn't make your parts any better.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    Not to mention a one man shop isn't going to attract the attention of peeps that need the ISO cert to do business with. Hell, probably not even a 10 man shop, but I digress. It is certainly helpful to have some procedures, and docs, but not necessarily to show to/for a customer....

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWazowski View Post
    Hi all,

    I hope this is the right forum to ask for some pointers about starting a small machine shop from the ground up. This is my first post, and a very fresh idea that I'm trying to expand on, so bear with me for the amateur questions.

    <snip>

    -What kind of machines are best to start out with?

    I suppose it all depends on the market of what kind of parts are needed in my area. I'm torn between spending around $10,000 on something like a Tormach 770M (770M Compact CNC Mill | Tormach) to give myself some breathing room while starting out, or to splurge on something like the decked out Tormach PCNC 1100 (PCNC 1100 - Tormach Inc.) for $26,000 which would spend most of my out of pocket funds, but would provide most of the tooling and machine capabilities I'm looking for.

    <snip>

    There's also the option of financing a brand new HAAS. I'm very familiar with the VF series, so this way I could avoid a steep learning curve when starting off.

    LOTS of options, but also lots of time to research and think about this. Any advice/tips will be appreciated.

    Thanks

    What-a-bout a TM series HAAS ?




    This ^^^

    VS.



    It's made in the USA (not mainland China).

    Doesn't the Tormach still use dovetail ways ?

    I like the tool makers coat (where can you get one of those, aren't the sleeves supposed to be shorter ;-) so you don't get your arm ripped off or something ? )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Why would a one man shop starting out want to spend any time working toward a ISO9001 certification?
    Quote Originally Posted by cb750chris View Post
    BS. AS and ISO have nothing to do with making good parts. Good parts come from good planning, programming, attention to detail, and quality employees who take pride in their work. Passing a BS audit conducted by someone who knows nothing about the processes they're auditing to get a piece of paper doesn't make your parts any better.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

    ISO is nothing about an audit....it's about the culture and having a procedure you follow for every job. Audits just prove you can do that .


    After getting my shop as9100d certified, of you aren't iso or as9100 we won't do business with you. Shops that invest in the process usually are on time or have a damn good excuse why and the parts are always good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    Why would a one man shop starting out want to spend any time working toward a ISO9001 certification?
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    Not to mention a one man shop isn't going to attract the attention of peeps that need the ISO cert to do business with. Hell, probably not even a 10 man shop, but I digress. It is certainly helpful to have some procedures, and docs, but not necessarily to show to/for a customer....
    Ya well having iso habits is something every shop should strive to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Because without quality, you make crap.

    Get ISO9001 habits formed from day one and your chances of succeeding go up some 60%
    Maybe things have changed as I last had experience with ISO9000 in 1994 on my last job working for the man. I actually was pretty much a working supervisor, and my last project before venturing out on my own was coordinating with an outside consultant to get certified ISO9000. In a nutshell it was all about procedures and never deviating from methods, lots of paperwork and documentation. The problem is if the person doing the procedure is incompetent, even if they follow protocol you may get scrap. It was also a nuisance as every part in the system had a sequence of operations you could not deviate from unless you submitted paperwork to change how it was made.
    I am pretty sure a few of us have had customers that ordered 1,000 parts and ran short and needed 5 more. For the 1,000 the process will be a lot different than if you need to make 5 to get the customer out of a jam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Ya well having iso habits is something every shop should strive to have.
    Iso 9000 and it's variants "We make crap, consistently"

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    As a medical device company, we're always looking for sources of high quality short lead time Swiss parts. We found a local one man shop with a Swiss and some open time, and were able to use him for some prototypes, but since he isn't ISO certified we cannot order human use production parts from him. The search continues.

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    It sounds like you are putting carriage before the horse, i.e. trying to get a machine before finding an opportunity. Once you know and ready for specific jobs, choice of machinery is fairly easy and you don't always need a tonne of commercial space to get business started. I knew one person who accidentally started a business in gun drilling long holes, which kind of dictated all the other machines that he got later and his shop layout.

    I think that there are always niche markets where you can squeeze in if you network. The hard part is finding jobs where you can make a nice markup vs. competing on price with bigger shops or foreign suppliers. That's really the tough part to find those opportunities. I know several engineering consultants who run business out of their garage, which is sufficient to what they do.

    There are some formulas that were posted here in regard to how long the machine will need to pay for itself, but again the focus is on business first, then picking machines.

    As to financing, if you got an income stream, you should get a loan. You can always use up cash without trouble. Keep it in the bank.

    As to ISO nonsense. Don't complicate your life. If you see jobs that require it, figure out if the cost of getting certified is actually worth the increase in price. There are some solid principles at its core, but it's wrapped in so many layers of paperwork to prove compliance that it becomes job in itself. You can be ISO certified and still turn out total dog doo doo all day and night.

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    Mike - welcome aboard! Most of us that have shops started out just like you - with a dream of being self-employed and the drive to back it up. It isn't easy but it is doable. By recommendation to you is to buy "smart". Buy as late model of machines as possible - even if that means fewer machines. For $30k you should be able to get a CNC mill and lathe that are less than 20 years old and not totally clapped out.

    Buy something that has repair techs in your area - life and death right there. Buy something that is either still supported, or at least parts are still obtainable; Haas, Milltronics, Mazak - those should all me affordable.

    A couple of support pieces like a manual lathe and a surface grinder would help.

    I would strongly urge you to see if your day job has overflow they can send your way. Many shops have started that way. If you can do it, I would suggest just hanging in there that way for as long as you can - at least until you can't anymore.

    Forget ISO - that's waaay down the road for you.

    If Trump stays in office we just may see manufacturing in the US rebound to the point where customers are lining up at our doors. Then you'll need ISO.


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