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  • Writer's pictureAlta Design and Manufacturing Inc.

Creating a Custom Part at a Local CNC Machine Shop: A Journey from Concept to Reality

Embarking on the journey of having a custom part manufactured at a local CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine shop like Alta Design and Manufacturing Inc., can be both exhilarating and daunting, especially for those unfamiliar with the process. This blog post aims to demystify the experience, highlighting the steps involved, challenges faced, and the ultimate satisfaction of seeing a concept transformed into a tangible reality.

custom made machined part

The Genesis of the Idea

The journey begins with a need: a specific component, not readily available in the market, is required for a project. This necessity sparks the idea of designing and manufacturing a custom part. After some research and sketches, the concept is ready to be brought to life.

Choosing the Right CNC Machine Shop for your Custom Part

The first crucial step is selecting the right machine shop. Factors like the shop's reputation, expertise, machinery capabilities, and turnaround time play a significant role in the decision. After several inquiries and a visit to a local CNC machine shop with a track record of quality work and client satisfaction, we are ready to go to work.

Design and Consultation

The initial meeting with the shop’s engineer is pivotal. They review the design, offering valuable insights and suggestions for improvement. Their expertise in material selection and design for manufacturability helps refine the concept, ensuring the final product will be both functional and cost-effective.

The Manufacturing Process

Smart machine for creating custom parts.

Watching the CNC machines in action is mesmerizing. The process of turning a digital design into a physical part involves several steps:

  1. CAD/CAM Design: The shop uses sophisticated CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software to finalize the design and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software to translate it into machine language.

  2. Material Selection: Based on the part's intended use, the right material is selected for its properties, such as strength, durability, and corrosion resistance.

  3. CNC Machining: The chosen material is then shaped by CNC machines, which meticulously carve and sculpt it according to the design specifications.

  4. Quality Control: Throughout the manufacturing process, rigorous quality checks ensure that the part meets all the required specifications and tolerances.

Challenges Encountered

The journey isn’t without its challenges. Adjustments in design to address unforeseen technical limitations, delays in sourcing specific materials, and fine-tuning the CNC programming are some of the hurdles to be faced. However, the collaborative effort between the design team and the machine shop can ensure these challenges are overcome.

The Final Product

machined part in a hand

The moment of unveiling the finished part is a blend of relief and pride. The precision and craftsmanship with which the part is made are evident. It fits perfectly into the project, serving its purpose admirably.

Lessons Learned

This experience is not just about getting a custom part manufactured; it is a learning journey. Key takeaways can include:

  • The importance of clear communication and collaboration with the machine shop.

  • Understanding the limitations and capabilities of CNC machining.

  • The value of thorough planning and design refinement.


Having a custom part manufactured at a local CNC machine shop is a testament to human ingenuity and technological advancement. It’s a process that converts ideas into tangible solutions, bridging the gap between imagination and practical application. For anyone looking to embark on such a journey, Alta Design and Manufacturing Inc. is waiting to deliver a rewarding experience that pushes the boundaries of creativity and innovation.

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