3D printing has changed many parts of the manufacturing world for the better, but it's not a sea of perfect innovation and replication. From bad print processes to bad materials, there's a lot that can go wrong when you venture through different custom machine parts from many vendors that may or may not be reputable. Here are a few things to look for as you track down vendors to fulfill your custom parts needs.
Not All Materials Are The Same
Whether you're dealing with plastic, resin, or metals, you need to be aware of the composition. Different metal alloys and different types of plastic can be created with either a bad combining process, a poor impurity removal process, or intentional filler use that may not be good for your task.
It's hard to prove poor composition because it's often an issue of molecular science. Although some of the worst mixtures will have visible flaws, you may not be able to tell the different until you buy materials and feel the difference, or when a part goes into a high-stress machine and results in a potentially expensive failure.
Figure out which materials are right for your project, and get a material testing professional on their side. An expert can tell you about the metal composition, and may be able to provide a more accurate option for what you should be using. It's about more than hardness and malleability; many other factors can come into play with complex systems beyond just spinning around to make the final product.
Finding Reputable Vendors
Only deal with vendors who have a return address and a list of leadership who can be verified. This will give you a chance to research their products and filter through any fake customer reviews as you figure out what you're dealing with.
Getting not only a refund, but satisfaction from giving a company the chance to make things right is valuable. There are many fly-by-night companies out there, but there are just as many new business that could grow while being very appreciative of your continued investment. Give them a chance and verify the quality, but make sure there's a team ready to answer your concerns.
Along with choosing reputable vendors, you need to know about the raw materials. As part of the previous material composition advice, a company can get the right ratio of materials while using poor powder/grain material for certain metals and plastics.
Tungsten and cobalt are two notable materials that are used to create metal components in various industries. Many people see the component makers as the raw materials provider, but they are in turn customers of companies that refine the raw materials and may or may not be part of the mining operation.
The supply chain can get fairly long, deep, and sprawling, but the easiest way to get your answers is by contacting a custom machine parts professional, such as at C & C Machine Works, and asking about their quality control.