The moment I saw Oatnet's ???? vs x5403 - Fight! thread, I was hooked on the Norco 2009 A-Line with its sweet curves, solid construction and especially replaceable dropouts. I had to have one and I had to build it to my specifications. (see the results here
When it came time to machine my own dropouts, I decided to give emachineshop a try. I've been looking at hem as a source of custom machined parts for some time, but I basically never got the guts to "press print" on any of my designs. Well, with the A-Line in hand, and other sources of custom dropouts not meeting my needs, went for it.
Here's how the process goes:
- First, download their CAD software and run through a tutorial. Their software is nothing to rave about, but what it has going for it is if you can design something in their CAD, you're pretty much guaranteed they can make the part.
- Second, design your part. The CAD has a 3D renderer that does an OK job.
- Next, you can pick materials, finishing (e.g., anodizing) and other parameters, and have the part priced within seconds. The pricing estimator also gives you an estimated delivery date which in my case was pretty spot on.
- Materials: This section is well done, there's comprehensive information on material strength, macinability, common usage, hardness, etc. They list preferred materials in bold.
- Parts quantity: It's fast and easy to change the number of parts on order. This is really telling. The price per part drops rapidly as you buy more... so it really helps if you're buying 4 or more of the same part (I can see some "group design/build/buy" drama in the future...)
- Timeline: About 3 weeks from order to your door, but there are rush options if you have lots of money to burn.
- When you're satisfied, you basically buy the job online like any other web purchase... enter in address and credit card, then wait.
- Endgame: In my case, on the eve of the estimated delivery date, I got an e-mail from their quality assurance shop:Missing 0.016" rounding on 0.492" diameter counterbores in TOP VIEW.
Please advise us whether to ship or remake the parts. If you need us to remake the job, please note that the job must go thru all phases: material acquisition, machine setup, machining, finishing, inspection, packing, shipping etc., which will take time.
"What the hell are they talking about?" I thought. "I sent that design in like 3 weeks ago!" I sent an e-mail reply asking them to mark up my drawing and point out the flaw, which they did within an hour. I saw that the flaw was not going to impact the function or aesthetics of the part, so I gave them the go-ahead. I received the part 3 days later.
So what is the result?
Here is a screen shot of the 3D design:
Here is the real part, a nice tight fit onto the curves and mounting posts as specified in my design.
Would I use them again, or recommend their service? Yes and yes. Just be aware the price of a unique part will be dear - you are better buying several parts that you know you will use yourself or sell to others.