I have never had work done by these type of machines, so I was wondering what type of finish and tolarances one can expect from a half decent machine?
How are jobs normally quoted, by length of cut and material, or machine time etc?
I need two parts made from plain sheet steel, one from 12 to 14 gauge and another from 5 gauge and trying to find the best process to use. Both items will be in the 1000+ quantity per batch (whatever fits in a 8 x 4' sheet). Both will need to be nickel plated once fabrication is complete. Flatness is not critical but a smooth nearly square edge is desirable (especially on the 5 gauge part). Desirable tolerances are in the range 15 to 20 thou but could live with a bit lower for most of the cuts.
The first part (14 gauge) is about 4" by 2" and moderate in shape completity. Looks like a question mark with one 0.150" hole and 4 x1/8" holes.
The second part (5 gauge) is simple in shape 4.5" long and 1/2" wide and resembles an arrow head in shape. The base of the head will need to be bevelled at 45 degree which means a 5 axis machine will be required. Alternately the 45 degree can be done as a second process.
Both items will need post processing to attach other parts etc and a CAD drawing can be made available. Can also translate to G-Code.
I am located on the North West Coast for shipping purposes. These are fairly cost sensitive articals.
Waterjet is too expensive for what you want.
Plasma and laser should be very similar in price with laser giving a better finish and tolerance.
I find plasma has some difficulties with small holes and inside corners due to cut diameter and slag.
Although any 5 axis work I have had quoted is PRICEY.
It may be beneficial for you to consider a second op. for the bevelling.
2 axis cutting should be a couple bucks a part +/- 50%.
Pricing for these machines is calculated by material type and thickness (for cutting speed), linear length of cut, rapids between details and number of pierces (pierces can really rack up the consumables.