Archive: Jan 2021

Why a Machine Shop No-Quotes — and How to Find One That Won’t

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Have you ever had this experience? You submit a request for quote (RFQ) to a machine shop, only to hear back that the volume is too low, the part is too small, or the job is too complicated. That is, of course, if you even receive a response at all. Sound familiar?

The dreaded no-quote is to be expected when submitting RFQs for complex parts or extreme (high or low) volumes. But what if it doesn’t have to be?  

The general mindset at many machine shops is that they want to avoid hard parts — and the no-quote is an easy way around that. Avoid no-quotes in the future by understanding why shops respond this way and how to find one that won’t. (Hint: Look for a shop that loves the challenge of a complex part.)


Why Shops No-Quote

When machine shops no-quote, the reason can usually be traced back to capability. For example, a job that’s easy for a shop that does wire EDM may be impossible for a shop that only does milling. A conventional 3-axis CNC machine can’t efficiently make a complex part with small features on multiple sides, but a 5-axis mill with a high-RPM spindle can. 

Shops typically refuse to quote a job for one of the following reasons:   

  • The part is too large or small. Parts that are too large to fit in the work envelope of specific equipment are obvious no-quotes, but features or parts that are too small are also a grey area that many shops try to avoid.
  • The job is too time-consuming. Shops that have older or fewer machines, limited capacity, or limited experience may determine that a job isn’t worth the cost and effort to tie up resources for an extended time.
  • The shop doesn’t know how to do it. Parts may have features that a shop has never encountered before and they don’t want to buy custom tooling or dedicate programming resources to make the part as designed.
  • Tolerances.  Tight tolerances of complex features, specific surface finishes, profile tolerances, or other GD&T requirements can be extremely difficult to check without advanced inspection equipment.
  • Volume. Some shops won’t do high volume mill or lathe work because they don’t have enough machines or automated processes. On the other hand, some shops won’t do prototype work because they don’t have the experience to make small quantities efficiently.
  • Material. A shop may not have enough experience with the required material. Every type of material poses unique machining challenges, and those challenges vary based on part geometry, tolerances, finish requirements, and many other factors. In addition, some types of material can be extremely expensive, which makes inexperience even more costly.  


Common Types of No-Quote 

Unfortunately, no-quotes leave many customers feeling high and dry. Common types of no-quotes include ignoring the RFQ, emailing a refusal (with or without an explanation), or passive-agressive quoting. You’ve gotten a passive-aggressive no-quote if you’ve been quoted $1,000 for a $50 part with no explanation.


Find a Shop That Likes Figuring Out Complex Parts

Manufacturers typically prefer sticking to what they already know, because it’s the easiest way to complete projects, keep the shop running, and make money. If your goal is to avoid a no-quote, find a shop like Wagner Machine that won’t no-quote based on complexity, volume, inspection requirements, or material. 

The harder a part is to make, the more we want to make it.

Our drive to solve complex manufacturing challenges means we’re more likely to quote a project than most other shops. Taking on complicated projects helps us:

  • Excel at creating complex parts
  • Hone our skills to make simple parts better and faster (we love those, too!)
  • Discover cool tricks and efficiency bonuses that can’t be found doing the same thing day in and day out
  • Keep machinists on top of their game and ready for the next challenge

We have the right people, the right equipment, the right experience, and the right software. We’ve seen it all (feel free to test us), so whatever you send our way, chances are good that we know how to do it—and do it right. In the rare case that we can’t take on a project, we’ll take the time to explain in detail.  

Something we hear a lot is: “Contact Wagner. They’ll do anything.” It’s true. Submit an RFQ and put us to the test.