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  1. #21
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    Forgive me for asking a question as to what i would hope is a very obvious answer. You state that you have 5 years programming. Am I to assume you spent many or hopefully at least several years on the shop floor prior to moving up to programming? Myself, I would never hire a programmer that cant run what he programs, but I know shops have different mentalities on this.

    I ask this because to be honest with you, programming is the least of your problems when starting a one man band shop. You are going to be wearing every possible hat. From janitor, to sales, to maintenance, etc. etc.


    Also, dont even think that anyone is going to give you a loan (or lease) without you signing personally. I have been in business for 20 years & have 9 shop employees, I am just getting to the point of not signing personally on everything.
    If you are just a programmer, take your 30K and flush it down the toilet. You will get the same result faster & without the stress.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toolmaker96 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a question as to what i would hope is a very obvious answer. You state that you have 5 years programming. Am I to assume you spent many or hopefully at least several years on the shop floor prior to moving up to programming? Myself, I would never hire a programmer that cant run what he programs, but I know shops have different mentalities on this.

    I ask this because to be honest with you, programming is the least of your problems when starting a one man band shop. You are going to be wearing every possible hat. From janitor, to sales, to maintenance, etc. etc.


    Also, dont even think that anyone is going to give you a loan (or lease) without you signing personally. I have been in business for 20 years & have 9 shop employees, I am just getting to the point of not signing personally on everything.
    If you are just a programmer, take you 30K and flush it down the toilet. You will get the same result faster & without the stress.

    ^^^ I had a very good laugh at that / with it...



    At least go to a casino have a bit of fun and then put it all on RED or BLACK lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    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.
    I think you may have found the proverbial unicorn! Wondering if the swiss was really old..? I am just curious how a one man shop justifies a swiss machine. Even if work is there, those type parts (typically, IMO) are such high volume/low per part price it would be hard to make money by yourself.

    I worked at a place a couple years that had two of them, and we lost several jobs over the years over a few cents per part...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    I think you may have found the proverbial unicorn! Wondering if the swiss was really old..? I am just curious how a one man shop justifies a swiss machine. Even if work is there, those type parts (typically, IMO) are such high volume/low per part price it would be hard to make money by yourself.

    I worked at a place a couple years that had two of them, and we lost several jobs over the years over a few cents per part...
    In medical device development we need a couple dozen here, a couple hundred there, all pretty finicky, and there's money to pay for it. We're not squabbling over pennies, time and quality are far more important. I've seen PO's with per part prices from around $50 to $200 for Swiss parts. Machine didn't look too old and has a thread whirler.

    Since calendar time is worth so much to us I'm making Swiss parts on a mill right now (it's the only CNC machine in the shop), even though it takes half an hour to make what would come off a Swiss in five minutes, but we only need ten parts right now. Can't talk management into buying me a Swiss though.

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  6. #25
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    Developing a QMS is a good exercise for guys and gals in the planning phase. It spurs them to think about the nitty gritty details about how they would deal with the problems. I am a one man band. If I died tomorrow anyone with half a brain could open up my paperwork and finish jobs, keep commitments, and roll on..

    I can understand how employees get a bad taste of qms. Accountability can suck when shit rolls down hill.

    My point is its alot easier to think about this before you have payments and deadlines

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aejgx6 View Post
    Developing a QMS is a good exercise for guys and gals in the planning phase. It spurs them to think about the nitty gritty details about how they would deal with the problems. I am a one man band. If I died tomorrow anyone with half a brain could open up my paperwork and finish jobs, keep commitments, and roll on..

    I can understand how employees get a bad taste of qms. Accountability can suck when shit rolls down hill.

    My point is its alot easier to think about this before you have payments and deadlines
    Bingo! Qms before the machines will make you successful.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Bingo! Qms before the machines will make you successful.
    It all depends on the work.

    Getting ISO certs to do general, low volume job shop work is probably not a great idea.

    If you can figure out how to land production work, medical, aerospace, Tier 1/2 auto, etc - as a one man band (or even with a few employees)... then by all means get the certs.

    QMS should probably be viewed in a similar light as any other tool - you need to know what is available out there, what customers require that service, have a rough idea of what it costs and how to implement, and analyze return on investment / cash flow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aejgx6 View Post
    Developing a QMS is a good exercise for guys and gals in the planning phase. It spurs them to think about the nitty gritty details about how they would deal with the problems. I am a one man band. If I died tomorrow anyone with half a brain could open up my paperwork and finish jobs, keep commitments, and roll on..

    I can understand how employees get a bad taste of qms. Accountability can suck when shit rolls down hill.

    My point is its alot easier to think about this before you have payments and deadlines
    Quote Originally Posted by Hillside Fab View Post
    It all depends on the work.

    Getting ISO certs to do general, low volume job shop work is probably not a great idea.

    If you can figure out how to land production work, medical, aerospace, Tier 1/2 auto, etc - as a one man band (or even with a few employees)... then by all means get the certs.

    QMS should probably be viewed in a similar light as any other tool - you need to know what is available out there, what customers require that service, have a rough idea of what it costs and how to implement, and analyze return on investment / cash flow.
    Qms isnt just for those industries you listed. I think all of you have a little backwards view of ISO.... Get the habits from day one and you will be more profitable, be in business longer and be more efficient through car's and not making mistakes twice or more.

    As a side bonus, you get to sit at the table where the big boys play. But that shouldn't be the primary motive for getting into iso habits or even the cert.

    Iso compliant is just as good in my eyes for a small shop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Qms isnt just for those industries you listed. I think all of you have a little backwards view of ISO.... Get the habits from day one and you will be more profitable, be in business longer and be more efficient through car's and not making mistakes twice or more.

    As a side bonus, you get to sit at the table where the big boys play. But that shouldn't be the primary motive for getting into iso habits or even the cert.

    Iso compliant is just as good in my eyes for a small shop.
    What does the company that you own/work for actually make?
    What machines do you have to make these components on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by as9100d View Post
    Qms isnt just for those industries you listed. I think all of you have a little backwards view of ISO.... Get the habits from day one and you will be more profitable, be in business longer and be more efficient through car's and not making mistakes twice or more.

    As a side bonus, you get to sit at the table where the big boys play. But that shouldn't be the primary motive for getting into iso habits or even the cert.

    Iso compliant is just as good in my eyes for a small shop.
    Hold on a minute. First you said "develop ISO habits blah blah" Now you are saying "QMS" two totally different things IMO. A quality system (not necessarily a 'management; system, but..) is ABSOLUTELY a good thing to do/use/follow day one. ISO/ASxxxx is not.

    ISO/ASxxx = say what you do, do what you say, have alot of paperwork to state that

    Quality = making good parts that meet spec, (somewhat optional look good, although a customer may specify "skip milling ends they don't mean anything", etc) are to print, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    Hold on a minute. First you said "develop ISO habits blah blah" Now you are saying "QMS" two totally different things IMO. A quality system (not necessarily a 'management; system, but..) is ABSOLUTELY a good thing to do/use/follow day one. ISO/ASxxxx is not.

    ISO/ASxxx = say what you do, do what you say, have alot of paperwork to state that

    Quality = making good parts that meet spec, (somewhat optional look good, although a customer may specify "skip milling ends they don't mean anything", etc) are to print, etc.
    Exactly, couldn't have said it better.

    Slapping ISO/AS paperwork on a job doesn't make bad parts good. MAKING good parts makes them good. Regardless of the methods you use to achieve that result. It also doesn't magically make your parts ship on time either. If anything it jams up your inspection department with paperwork. Ask me how I know... I'm an Inspector at my day job. It's a lot faster to check your parts and provide a CofC stating that they're good than it is to fill out a AS9102 on a part with 100+ features.

    Also, the OP is on a 30k budget. Most of that could be eaten up with an audit alone, and far more for an initial certification.

    Better idea is to find a good used machine that he can purchase outright, in the 8-12k range. No payments. Something like a HAAS, Milltronics, or a Fadal. Easy to work on and lots of support. He doesn't need a payment on a new machine if there's no specific work already lined up for it and no product of his own to make. Search for good used tooling like tool holders, vises, etc. Then go around and find overflow work from local shops and work on your reputation. Now you're 15k in, have some operating capital, and building your customer base, reputation, and connections. Grow from there. And don't quit your day job until you're ALREADY making it on your own.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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    Hey OP..................it's a long hard road startin a shop..............even harder if you buy something like a Tormach. Don't do it.

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    I have to admit I’m a bit embarrassed. I’ve worked Tier 1 automotive, owned my own shop for 10 years, have made parts for almost every industry and I don’t know what QMS is? Never heard of it?

    In fact just the other week I made parts for a Tier 1 Auto supplier because they ? couldn’t? wouldn’t? They are TS14xyz-abc?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    I have to admit I’m a bit embarrassed. I’ve worked Tier 1 automotive, owned my own shop for 10 years, have made parts for almost every industry and I don’t know what QMS is? Never heard of it?

    In fact just the other week I made parts for a Tier 1 Auto supplier because they ? couldn’t? wouldn’t? They are TS14xyz-abc?
    QMS = quality management system AKA, lots of BS paperwork and job title for some clown who wouldn't know the difference between a vmc and a lathe.

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    Mike W- What part of NC are in? You can be successful anywhere, but if you're in a more industrial area like the Triangle or Charlotte you'll have some opportunities that a guy way out in the sticks won't. But out in the sticks you may be able to keep your overhead low and go after different work that isn't location dependent. We tried finding local work, and would have starved trying to eke machine shop work out of the local farming community.

    Highly recommend figuring out the type of work then getting the machine(s) to fit. Maybe a Tormach is the right machine for something (Maybe!), but you should probably have that work lined up before you buy it. Not for $25k though, that's crazy.

    Another thought: can you weld, or powder coat, or some other associated process along with machining? It's tough to compete with every other shop with a VMC, but maybe you can combine things to find work.

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    You can get nice used Fadal’s for less than 20k. Don’t even consider the Tormach unless this is going to be a hobby making hobby parts.

    If this is starting out as a hobby, spend the next year buying gauges and setup equipment while watching for a good used CNC.

    If you have cash in hand there are LOTS of good used options.

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    OP might be a done in one poster, but...............................

    This machine is sold, but a good example of what's out there...................and they are out there.

    Haas TM1-P For Sale. Very Low Hours

    I've seen a more than a few Haas TM's on my local Craigslist. Heck I sold my almost pristine Super Mini last fall that would have been in you budget.

    WAY more machine than a Tormach.............................

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    Quote Originally Posted by toolmaker96 View Post
    Forgive me for asking a question as to what i would hope is a very obvious answer. You state that you have 5 years programming. Am I to assume you spent many or hopefully at least several years on the shop floor prior to moving up to programming? Myself, I would never hire a programmer that cant run what he programs, but I know shops have different mentalities on this.
    Thanks to everyone on here for the helpful advice.

    After more research and reading your comments it sounds like Tormach is a glorified hobby horse. HAAS seems like my best option as I know the machines well and can avoid a larger learning curve when starting off. New VF-2s are going for $44,000 (not including tooling), but it seems a lot of you recommend buying a used machine starting off with. I'm not against that idea, but I do worry about the machines history (maintenance, crashes, etc.).

    I'm considering two options:

    -Buying a brand new VF-2
    pros: 1 year warranty, no prior crashes, newest tech, and I can run it immediately with zero training.
    cons: breaks the bank, only $6,000 left for tooling and shop maintenance, and it's only 1 machine.

    -Buying a used machine
    pros: saves tens of thousands of dollars, more money to spend on tooling and shop, can possibly afford both a mill and lathe.
    cons: no warranty, unknown history, possible wasted time on learning curves.


    Per your question, toolmaker96, I set up and run every program I write. Where I lack the most skill is on the business side of things. Finding customers, quoting jobs, and accounting are where my biggest fears lie. I can make a part, but I've never had to sell one before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWazowski View Post
    Thanks to everyone on here with the extremely helpful advice.

    After more research and reading your comments it sounds like Tormach is a glorified hobby horse. HAAS seems like my best option as I know the machines well and can avoid a larger learning curve when starting off. New VF-2s are going for $44,000 (not including tooling), but it seems a lot of you recommend buying a used machine starting off with. I'm not against that idea, but I do worry about the machines history (maintenance, crashes, etc.).

    I'm stuck between two options:

    -Buying a brand new VF-2
    pros: 1 year warranty, no prior crashes, newest tech, and I can run it immediately with zero training.
    cons: breaks the bank, only $6,000 left for tooling and shop maintenance, and it's only 1 machine.

    -Buying a used machine
    pros: saves tens of thousands of dollars, more money to spend on tooling and shop, can possibly afford both a mill and lathe.
    cons: no warranty, unknown history, possible wasted time on learning curves.

    Is there a good database you might recommend for buying used machines? Google has an infinite list of classifieds, but I could use some pointing in a general direction.

    Per your question, toolmaker96, I set up and run every program I write. Where I lack the most skill is on the business side of things. Finding customers, quoting jobs, and accounting are where my biggest fears lie. I can make a part, but I've never had to sell one before.

    As long as you can build it, you can learn the rest. Most of us who go into business, learn most of the business side stuff as we grew & trial by fire. One thing that really is important is to have at least some grasp on machine maintenance. Most likely you are going to be acquiring a lot of used equipment to start, so being able to diagnose & repair yourself is a huge $ saver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWazowski View Post
    Is there a good database you might recommend for buying used machines? Google has an infinite list of classifieds, but I could use some pointing in a general direction.
    There's nothing like that.

    Look at whatever ads you find, but the critical factor is that you need to go inspect the machine (preferably under power, and if not under power than your price should take into account the fact that it might not turn on), and you need to know what to inspect or have someone with you who can. Hours tells you a little but backlash, spindle condition (taper and bearings), way condition, table flatness are the big ones.

    I strongly suggest looking at business liquidations, there are usually good deals to be had. But you usually also need to be prepared to move quickly organizing rigging, as well as understand the markups that come with those types of auctions and the limits on rigging vendors you are even allowed to use. They also usually will not have machines under power, the same caveat applies as above.

    I bought a Fadal 3016 for a hair over $4k using this method, but knew I was rolling the dice. I put a couple grand into it and have been very happy with its performance. I also lucked out that some of the expensive options had already been bought with or retrofitted on the machine (primarily rigid tapping and a late-model processor).


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