I think this is probably the wrong forum for the question. I don't have a problem with it...just that you're going to get a much smaller audience than you would up in one of the 'general' forums.
We seem to have a number of people in here:
Personally, I'm number 4, hoping to not become number 5.
- Employed by others but looking for an edge or help getting ahead in the industry (don't actually own any equipment but work closely with it).
- General machine shop owners who happen to own Haas equipment. They may vary in size and capacity.
- Manufacturers of their own products.
- Hobbyists of one sort or another, trying to turn their passion into a business (manufacturing their own products).
- Really eccentric hobbyists who happen to have enough cash to afford a CNC. They might or might not ever make money with them.
A Mori ain't in the budget. I couldn't swing the payments on one unless it hit the ground generating cash.
While my two Haas machines were pricey by 'hobby standards', I know 'regular people' who have spent more on a fifth-wheel trailer and a decked out pickup truck to tow it. So it's not the 'normal' hobby, but it's not going to depreciate any faster than a boat or motorhome and at least it has the possibility of someday, generating income.
What the machines meant to me is this: I could generate designs and build prototypes on my schedule, while keeping my 'day job'. When the time comes to turn the switch on the business, I can move the equipment to a real shop and get down to production.
Many consumer markets can't tolerate another layer of profit (RC boats, RC cars, specialty car parts, etc). So if there were a machine shop between the raw materials and my customers, there would be no money left in them for me. The consumer will only pay so much--unlike markets--like aerospace--that beg to be gouged.
A salesman at Westec had this discussion with me. It might have been Mori...or Mazak...doesn't matter: he told me that a Haas machine wouldn't last and didn't really have the speed. I told him that I lay awake at night, dreaming of wearing out a Haas. I hope that someday I can't stand their perceived lack of quality--because it means that my business has outgrown that very machine that got it going. If I am forced to come to them for a machine, then the Haas did its job.
If the more expensive machines were the only thing on the market, I couldn't even afford to get on the train.
I think the guys who buy a couple of machines and think they're going to hang out a shingle and get to work are wayyy more gutsy than I'll ever be. That's a tough world.
They can work in their garage and undercut a real shop for only so long. Eventually, they'll need more room and more power than a residence can provide. They'll add a building and a few more machines, and then employees to load them and push the green button. That overhead will put a pinch on them. Then they'll be pissed when they get undercut by 'some guy in his garage.' I'm not saying it can't be done (others here have obviously done it) but it's like a restaurant: you're at the whim of your market.
I agree with you in that situation: a competitive edge is very important. If you can't beat them on speed, then you'd better beat them on price or quality. If they can't do that with a Haas, maybe they should be looking at something better/faster/more rigid. To not have any idea what they're going to do with the machine is just foolhardy.