Things to consider when buying a used CNC machine
The advantages that a CNC machine can bring to a machine shop or production floor are well-known and undeniable. Faster, more precise machining coupled with reduced waste and more efficient use of manpower. Ever since the first CNC machines showed up in the 1960s, the productivity and capabilities of CNC machines have advanced so far that it’s almost inconceivable for a manufacturing operation not to have one. That is as long the company can afford the price tag.
New CNC machines can cost upwards of an arm and a leg so if budgetary concerns are an important part of the picture, a used CNC machine becomes a valuable alternative. Buying a used CNC machine isn’t like getting a used forklift, some important considerations should be undertaken before deciding to purchase.
1 | Know what you need the machine to do
Specifications for CNC machines vary greatly and the uses for them only increases the variety of choices for equipment. To keep matters simple it is important to know exactly what is needed as far as production processes, tooling, computer applications available, and many other concerns.
The truth is buying a used CNC machine takes more time than purchasing a new one. New machines can be built to the buyer’s specifications and to accommodate the original buyer’s needs. The second owner is another matter entirely. Adapting a CNC from one user to another requires the ability to understand machine operations at all levels – mechanical and electronic.
2 | Ask the right questions about the used CNC machine’s history
Understanding the history of a CNC machine is critical to making a proper buying decision. Maintenance records, production reports, and other data are just as important as knowing the history of the company operating the CNC machine. The reason why a CNC machine is being sold can be just as enlightening as talking with the machine’s operator because it can tell whether or not the machine has been properly serviced and upgraded over time.
Modifications and upgrades are important to know about as they may affect future machine capabilities. Contacting the servicing dealer will also provide insight into how well the machine has been maintained and serviced.
3 | Balance budget with long term goals
Saving money on a used CNC machine only makes sense if the machine is going to meet current and future needs. Technological changes, both in the company production process as well as in CNC functionality can streamline a manufacturing line and save money. The ability to adapt to and adopt future improvements is important to avoid having to purchase another machine at some point further downstream. Artificial Intelligence (AI), CAD/CAM program enhancements, and many other technological leaps forward only have value if the machine can incorporate them.
Know yourself and your limitations
This is not a philosophical statement as much as understanding what the best resource is for acquiring a quality piece of used CNC machinery. Cruising the internet and looking through industry trade publications is one way to get the purchase underway. It is highly recommended to employ the services of a CNC machinery dealer with experience and familiarity with your industry and application.
CNC dealers save buyers time, money, and frustration. Unless you are a trained professional with years of experience buying, selling, and servicing CNC machines, the chances are pretty good that rather than save money, you’ll end up spending a lot more than necessary and still not get what is needed. Smart buyers know the skills, education, experience, and understanding required for acquiring a complex piece of machinery like a modern multi-axis CNC machine can only be found with a qualified, certified, and professional CNC dealer.