CNC machines constitute a serious investment, so it should come as no surprise that many business owners can save money by buying them used instead of purchasing new machines. Don’t just buy any CNC machine, though.
Instead, read on to find four tips that will help business owners or purchasing managers figure out what to look for.
Buy From a Reliable Vendor
While buying a used CNC machine can help businesses save money, it’s never wise to cut corners when it comes to manufacturers and vendors.
Doosan Puma is a highly respected brand in the industry, so look for machines from this manufacturer to ensure the longevity of its component parts and reduce the chances of premature failures.
Buying from a well-established vendor also makes it easier to find technicians who can perform repairs, locate replacement parts, and troubleshoot problems as they come up.
When evaluating vendors, don’t just consider the cost.
It’s also important to look into things like customer service and reliability.
Used CNC vendors should be knowledgeable about the products they sell and willing to take the time to answer customers’ questions.
If a company won’t answer emails or return phone calls promptly before the sale, the chances are their representatives won’t be available to help should anything go wrong after buyers have already signed on the dotted line.
Perform an Inspection
Don’t just take a salesman or seller’s claims at face value.
Instead, make a point of thoroughly inspecting the machine both at rest and in operation.
Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:
- Free movement of all axles
- Free movement of spindles
- Appropriate tool alignment
- Absence of abnormal noises
- Lack of visible damage to component parts
- Normal tolerances
Business owners or purchasing managers who aren’t intimately familiar with how CNC machines are supposed to work should take the extra precaution of hiring an experienced mechanic to perform the inspection.
This will ensure that no issues are missed and all key components are operating as intended, and as the vendor claims they should.
The extra money spent on a professional mechanical inspection will be well worth the investment since it will ensure that business owners are getting what they paid for.
A specialized mechanic won’t just know exactly what to look for when it comes to major warning signs.
He or she will also be able to tell if the service history provided by the seller appears to be accurate.
If the seller claims it was serviced frequently and has required no repairs but the mechanic uncovers evidence during the inspection that this is not the case, that’s a good sign that the seller cannot be trusted.
Ask for all the paperwork available on the machine, not just its user manual.
Request a copy of its repair history, any bills paid by the original owner, and documentation on any included tooling and accessories.
Not all used CNC machines come with accessories and additional tooling equipment, so only expect to receive these items if the seller explicitly mentions them in the ad.
Requesting documentation prior to making a purchase can help business owners in several ways.
It can help them evaluate how well the CNC machine has been maintained, how many owners it has had, and whether there are any unusual issues that have had to be resolved in the past.
Having the previous owner’s documents on hand will also make it easier for buyers to find replacement parts and components if they wind up purchasing the machine since they’ll list the detailed specifications of each part.
Business owners should evaluate all records of service history and repairs carefully before making a final decision.
If the previous owner did not perform preventative maintenance on schedule, the machine may have suffered as a result and it may be better to look elsewhere for equipment.
If the same problem has come up over and over, that can also be a red flag, even if it’s been resolved each time.
Chances are, there’s some underlying issue that is causing the same components to fail repeatedly and that issue won’t just go away when the machine changes ownership.
Decide in Advance What Type of CNC Machine to Buy
Business owners will have two main options when it comes to purchasing used CNC machining centers.
They can buy either a vertical machining center (VMC) or a horizontal machining center (HMC).
VMCs tend to be much cheaper than HMCs, but HMCs offer much higher rates of productivity.
Before even looking at used machines, decide which one will be a better fit for the company.
Here’s what to consider:
a. Price Points
The average cost off a VMC is around $115,000, while the average HMC costs around $375,000.
That’s a pretty substantial difference, and even if business owners purchase used machines, they can still expect an HMC to cost substantially more.
Most small and mid-sized businesses opt for VMCs since they’re more likely to fit in their budgets.
HMCs offer higher rates of productivity than VMCs because they make more efficient use of their 4th axis.
As a result, they can complete jobs in around one-third the time, which can help to reduce a company’s labor costs and increase its profits.
If a business can afford to purchase an HMC rather than a VMC or is able to find a great deal, it’s usually the better choice.
c. Space Concerns
VMCs take up more space than HMCs.
Their massive size also creates shipping concerns, although most vendors will pay for shipping when customers buy used machines.
The Bottom Line
Choosing the right CNC machine can pose a challenge even to experienced business owners.
As long as they follow the advice above, they should be happy with their purchases.
Those who have other unique concerns they want to address before buying a used machine should find a reputable vendor that sells a variety of used equipment and get answers to their questions in advance.
CNC machines are serious investments, so it’s never wise for business owners to blindly purchase equipment without knowing exactly what they will be getting.
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