We live in a world where we expect everything to be fast. Cars move fast. We get our food in a drive-thru. Everyone needs everything right now. This demand for speed extends to every aspect of life, including your profession, where you likely are under pressure to source high-quality parts at rapid speeds. I have been under the same pressure as a Mechanical Engineer, making me feel powerless. Enter the still-novel concept of rapid CNC machining. 

In this article, we’ll be covering the following: 

  1. What is rapid CNC machining? 
  2. How does rapid CNC machining compare to traditional CNC machining? 
  3. Benefits and drawbacks of both traditional vs. rapid CNC machining. 
  4. Pro tips for getting rapid CNC-machined parts.
a Fictiv CNC machined part

What Is Rapid CNC Machining? 

Rapid CNC machining, also known as quick-turn CNC and fast CNC machining, is the process of getting CNC-machined parts with a shortened timeline (typically within a few business days). 

Rapid CNC machining: 

  • Aims to expedite machined parts back to the customer
  • Typically involves a focus on accuracy, precision, repeatability, and quality

And its success can often be attributed to the following:

A female engineer using the Fictiv platform

When you partner with Fictiv for your next project, you can expect rapid CNC machining up to 60% faster than the competition. See how we were able to help Honeywell with rapid CNC machining from a lead time of 22 weeks down to just 3 weeks with Fictiv.

What Are the Applications of Rapid CNC Machining? 

Lots! Including:

  1. CNC Rapid prototyping. It’s ideal for tight design deadlines or upcoming customer meetings. 
  2. Creating quick-turn custom parts. They can be produced on demand without causing excess delays to the customer or end-user. 
  3. Procuring MRO (maintenance repair and operations) parts. Getting MRO parts fast may make a difference in meeting production quotas.
  4. Addressing quality issues. Rapid machining is an excellent method for obtaining quick replacement of parts to address quality issues. 
  5. Providing medical devices. Getting a custom part or instrument quickly may be the difference between life and death for some patients. 
  6. Managing line-down situations. Outsourcing to a rapid CNC manufacturer can preserve deadlines.

A Rapid vs. a Traditional CNC Machining Timeline

The main difference? Rapid CNC machining means CNC parts are delivered faster.

Fictiv vs. a Traditional CNC Machine Shop 

With a traditional CNC machine shop, a customer typically experiences the following frustrations and delays: 

  1. Slogging through multi-day email trails for quoting, questions, and order status updates. In comparison, this process would take a Fictiv customer just one day to complete.
  2. Waiting for machining capacity to become available. This could take several days at a traditional machine shop that works on planned schedules, leaving them less able to deal with urgent requests. 
  3. Production starts without the convenience and confidence of traceability. The customer may or may not get an update from the machine shop as things progress.
  4. The customer has to schedule a pickup or make shipping arrangements.
  5. The process takes 10 days versus the 4 days for Fictiv to make the parts.
Rapid CNC machining vs. traditional CNC machining timeline

Consider a scenario in which Fictiv provides to a customer same-day instant quotes from uploaded files and instant design-for-manufacturability feedback (DFM), which enables the customer to make design changes quickly, ensure quality, and expedite production — all by using the platform’s simple drag-and-drop feature, which takes a matter of seconds. 

On the same day, the customer uploads their solid model and drawing to the platform, they could: 

  • Ask questions and get instant answers from our technical experts. 
  • Take advantage of an extensive resource center for 24/7 expert guidance
  • Check out with a credit card just a few minutes after uploading
  • Get their order sent to a highly vetted manufacturing partner

But the benefits of the Fictiv platform wouldn’t stop there. The customer would: 

  • Be able to track the progress of their parts via the Order Status feature

Get their parts completed on day 4 — 6 days faster than Fictiv’s competition!

If you want to accelerate new product development with Fictiv’s rapid CNC machining, create an account today!

Why Should You Use CNC for Rapid Prototyping?

One of the most common applications of rapid CNC machining is rapid prototyping. While you may be familiar with utilizing 3D printing for rapid prototyping or some other non-machining technique, there is value in using CNC machining. With the advancements in manufacturing technology, artificial intelligence, and the robust capabilities of modern CNC machines, rapid CNC machining is an excellent fit for quick-turn CNC machining prototypes. 

When I was working as an aerospace design engineer, one of my mentors used to say, “Fail often and fail fast.” We had access to 3D printing for rapid prototyping back then but didn’t have access to rapid CNC machining. I would have made faster design decisions and prototyped more comfortably using rapid CNC machining. This is because the precision, accuracy, look, function, and feel of a CNC-machined prototype are unmatched.

With traditional CNC machining, you have to wait a week or more to have parts machined, meaning you have less time to iterate designs, especially if you have a tight deadline. 

But with rapid CNC machining, you gain the flexibility to practice agility in response to design or manufacturing changes, as companies offering it are structured to move quickly. 

Pro-Tip: Choose Fictiv for all your rapid CNC machining needs. When you choose Fictiv’s rapid CNC machining service, you can get quotes in as little as 30 seconds, parts in as little as 2 days, tight tolerances, and guaranteed quality. 

Here are even more benefits of choosing Fictiv for a rapid CNC machining project:

Pro Tips for Rapid CNC Machining

Here are our top tips for ensuring you can get rapid CNC machining done as fast as possible:

  1. Use an online manufacturer, like Fictiv, for an instant quote.
  2. Limit finishing options — these take time. Here’s an excellent guide.
  3. Ensure drawings are complete and quality requirements are thoroughly conveyed.  Here’s a guide on how to make sure your drawings are great from the start. 
  4. Reduce part complexity.  Check out this article to learn more.
  5. Select easily sourced materials. Check out this article to learn more.

When machining at any speed, you should always ensure your design is optimized for machining. Check out the following resources to make a seamless transition from design to production: 

Fictiv – Sourcing Simplified

We work to make your most complex designs come to life rapidly through our partnership approach, which offers speed and agility. Fictiv can work with you to deliver exactly what you need — in as little as 2 days! Now that’s rapid CNC machining!

Click here to get an instant quote today!