Choosing a machine can be complicated. From floor space issues to getting everyone up to speed and able to use it successfully. Then there are the details such as how much is it? And when can I have it on the floor. There are an untold number of people selling finishing machines and it can be tough to sort through them. You want a machine that will do the job and not be out of service every time you turn around. This is where you can help yourself by weeding through the different avenues available to you.
There is a long list of priorities which will differ as everyone has their own perspectives. But lets touch on a few of the key points every one should watch out for. First of all, can the machine do what you need it to? A cheaper machine is great but if it can't do what you need it's a complete waste of money. Cost is one of the key points every one has to watch. Although, looking only at the initial cost has led to a many regrets later on. There is a reason you would not want discount brain surgery at the local gas station. Sure it's cheap and Dave that owns the place is a great guy when he has not been drinking. And you can't put a price on the 20 stray cats he has roaming around the place to help cheer you up. While we might look at that and laugh it is in fact what some people do. If you get tunnel vision on just the costs you miss the larger picture.
What is the machine going to cost you over the next 5 years? Will it need a special service person for everything or can you work on it yourself? This is where support would come up, is there someone you can call or email with questions? Do they have answers or do they need 2 days or more to look into the question and get back to you? Getting a quick answer to simple questions is not a given anymore. With all of the consolidation you have people tasked with supporting a machine they may have never even seen before. Don't over look support as it will effect your experience with the machine both positive and negative.
Flexibility would be the next point over looked. While part "A" is why you are looking at machines don't forget parts B to Z. The more parts or operations the machine can do the better fit it will be for you. You finish running part "A" you can switch to run part "B" rather than leave the machine sit idle. A flexible setup than can handle parts of different sizes can add value and give you options for later should something change like a new part or a change to a current part.
Ease of use, While the CNC fiber optic quad pole phase shifting beam array packaged with the robotic nuclear powered sandwich maker is cool who knows how to run it? You can over complicate anything and there is no end to those that will help you do so. "KISS" is something most have experienced. No not the band but if you have +2 points to you. (K)eep (I)t (S)imple (S)tupid, the less complicated things can be the better. It leaves fewer paths to trouble. A hammer has no moving parts but I have broken my share over the years. Staying with a more simple design makes it easier to use as well as take care of and that is a major factor in reliability. Unless you have the staff to care for a nuclear powered robotic sandwich maker then more power to you and send me the YouTube link it sounds awesome.
Availability, is another important aspect of buying a machine. If you need a custom one off machine to polish the headlight trim on a 1969 mustang you might have to wait. But if you are looking to remove burs or do paint prep you should not need to wait. Can you get the machine in a timely manner? Waiting 3 to 6 months for a machine will not help the situation you find yourself in now. This is a point more people should ask but they do not. You should not need to buy a machine to hold you over until your "real" machine arrives.
While I cant help with discount brain surgery or the Nuclear sandwich maker I can help with finishing. To help you solve finishing problems and get the machine you need is my task. From polishing truck grills to removing laser burs I can help you find what you need. If you have questions or Kiss tickets feel free to send them over.