In the last week I’ve been requesting quotes from local machine shops to manufacture the arbor for a wet grinder I’m constructing. I have been quite astonished by the variation in estimates. Then I remembered that a website called eMachineShop.com was featured in Wired Magazine some years ago and now seemed like the perfect time to give them a try.
The software download setup was free, super fast and I was hoping that I could import an .iges or .step file from Inventor but this feature seems to be still in beta and all I got was a handfull of error messages even though the part is relatively simple.
Fortunately the learning curve is virtually non-existent for a longtime user of VectorWorks, Adobe Illustrator, and Autodesk Inventor so after I skimmed one tutorial and I had gleaned enough to replicate my original part in about 20 minutes. In another 10 minutes I had a of list quote options to choose from. Sadly, for this “one-off” part the lowest quote was outrageously high compared to some I’ve gotten locally and worst of all, the lead time was listed at nearly two months!
Suffice to say, eMachineShop will not get my business this time but I think I’ll be going back to their software. I feel like I can learn a lot about manufacturing nomenclature and common practice by putting together a few more hypothetical estimates. Also, they offer many other processes besides traditional machining and I’ll surely give them a try in the future when I have need of something I can’t figure out how to make myself. But that seems to happen less and less frequently these days.