How to Select the Best Vendor For Your Plastic Machined Components

Not all plastic machining vendors are equipped to offer all parts. Others may not be able to give you the best prices. The following guidelines can help you locate a fully qualified, cost effective plastic machining specialist:

Material Knowledge

Quiz potential vendors on their knowledge of various materials and applications. Ask them to share the information they have from the material manufacturers. Do they have any property charts or plastic material handbooks to give you?

Specialists in plastic machining should have a wealth of up-to-date information. Material knowledge is a critical area. Good plastic machining firms must be willing to help educate you with the best choices and help find the most appropriate material for your application.

Purchasing Practices

A metal machine shop is not likely to have the material knowledge you need, or have the plastic purchasing power to provide you with the best price.

Likewise, find out if the plastic machining vendor mandates you are considering can purchase materials directly from the material manufacturer. If they rely on plastic distributors for materials, make sure their vendors are up on the latest material technology. Plastic technology is constantly changing, with new materials being introduced all the time.

One of your goals should be make sure that your plastic machining firm's materials purchasing practices are as good as yours.


Ask about the type of equipment your potential vendor is using. The well-equipped plastic machining vendor will look pretty much like a well-equipped metal machining shop, but the bona fide plastic specialist will have the equipment that has been adjusted, retooled and re-built specifically for machining plastic material.

The right equipment will machine plastic using the correct speeds, feeds and tooling, and will not pose the threat of contamination faced when metal-machining equipment is utilized. Proper equipment will also insure higher quality parts, with better finishes free of chips, burrs and other imperfections.

Quality and Price

Quality, of course, is directly related to price. Make sure the sellers you interview can provide the highest quality part at the lowest price. Plastic machining vendors can keep errors to a minimum if they are highly process driven, are ISO Certified, use documented SPC procedures, and own the proper inspection equipment such as CMM or video inspection systems. The company with the few errors will produce the highest quality and at the lowest cost.

Make sure the supplier is familiar with each machining process you need for your application, as well as with the specific plastic material you will be using. Experience, more than anything else, will help make sure a supplier offers you the most cost-effective part with the best quality.

Looking For The Best

Selection of a truly qualified vendor is extremely important in today's business environment. The time it takes to ask the right questions will pay big dividends – helping you obtain high quality machined plastic parts. Even though the rules for service and quality seem to be continuously evolving, obtaining the best part at the lowest possible cost is still the golden rule of procurement.