You Get What You Pay For

Everyone has come across this quote before, in some shape or form:

It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.- John Ruskin

If this is the case, then why do we so often still buy on price?

When CNC machines have similar specs and different prices, it’s tempting to go for the cheaper option. However, it is vital to take a closer look, because while they may appear similar at first glance, often they are not.

1. Machine specs that suit your requirements

  • Controller brand.
  • Spindle size, speed, and power.
  • Machine size.
  • Rapid speeds.
  • Machine set-up times / tooling type and availability.

All of these need to suit the type of work you are planning to do.
2. Service support of the machine

  • Stability of company supplying the machine.
  • Stability of sales / support staff.
  • Experience of people and support.
  • Reputation in the market.

3. Design and construction of the machine

  • Controller speed and functions, for today and future-proofing.
  • Machine design and innovation.
  • Quality of machine build: built in-house or sub-contracted, and quality of equipment used for the manufacture of the machine (one cannot make quality machines using inferior machines).
  • Has the machine been completely manufactured by the supplier, or do they use sub-contractors and supply at the cheapest rate?

4. Quality of components fitted to the machine

  • Where are the important parts sourced from? (Ball screws, linear slides, hydraulic components, etc…)

Additional Tips

When deciding between CNC machines, compare machine weights between the same spec brands. Extra weight doesn’t always mean better, but it is a good indication of rigidity. A rigidly-held tool is important to achieve a high-quality finish on your jobs.

– Check the ball screw make, pitch, and diameter.
– Check the linear slide size and brand.
– Check the servo drive power, casting design, and whether the servo motor mounts are cast in or bolted on.
– Finally, do a little research into the reputation of the brand in the NZ market and internationally. 

Your choice today can have a profound effect on your business in 4 – 5 years’ time.

This is the length of time it typically takes a machine to show its true colours.

Cheaply-prices CNC machines are notorious for losing accuracy and reliability by the end of this time-frame, or replacement parts are no longer available.

This is why the saying “Quality goods are cheap; cheap goods are expensive.” is true. You may save a few dollars when you purchase a cheaper machine, but over a short period of time the cost will increase with servicing and maintenance, until you have exceeded the price you would have paid for a quality machine.

YCM sell a range of machines that are often similar-sized machining envelopes, and at first glance I wondered why. It is only when you start looking at the things that I have mentioned above that you realise YCM don’t build one machine to do everything.

More cast-iron, bigger ball screws, bigger and more linear slides, high-power servo drives, higher KW spindle drives, faster controllers, faster tool changes, high-pressure coolant pumps, minimum quantity lubrication (MQL), high-speed spindles, air-through-spindle for machining…the list goes on.

All of these cost money, but a quality machine is worth it.

You get what you pay for.


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