CNC Machining Capabilities
What is CNC Machining?
CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is a substantive process meaning that layer by layer the block of material is removed in an automated fashion to the desired geometric shape, resulting in a finished part.
A customised computer program is used to control the process & motorised machine tools are used throughout the operation. The processes & operations is categorised into two main types: turned/faced (part rotates around tool) or a standard milling process (tool rotates around part). If the component is more cylindrical then it will be turning to reduce diameter of the part. If it’s more of a cubed component, then it’s a standard milling process.
There are other minor types of processes & operations include routing, drilling (boring), bevelling, reaming, engraving & cutting out. CNC can be used a wide variety of material types including but not limited to metals (most commonly Stainless Steel 304/304L, Stainless Steel 316/316L & Aluminium 6061, Aluminium 6082, Aluminium 7075), plastics, wood, stone & composites.
The main concern with the most used CNC machining being that within metal is minute tolerances, lubrication and the heat-affected zone (HAZ). The number of geometries that can be cut is directly proportional to the number of axes that CNC machine operates. The axes on a CNC machine are split into the x- and y-axis tracks (horizontal) and a z axis track (vertical). The most common being a 3-axis machining CNC with tool carousel or 5-axis machining CNC with interchangeable tools. The former uses those 3 axes as movements only and has an array of cutting tools & drills that spin around the centre of the carousel to the select the correct tool whenever a change of tool is needed. This accelerates the cutting process dramatically and tool changes are instant as the carousel is always in constant motion (see figure 1). The latter not only has the 3-axis (x-axis, y-axis & z-axis) for movement but an additional 2 axes of rotation being horizonal & vertical to achieve 360° of possible movement
CNC machining is versatile & therefore widely used for production of prototypes, minute tolerances, secondary operations and post-forming including the removal of excess material and boring holes. For approximately up to a dimension of 1m3 CNC toolmaking is the most cost-effective processes than any other process available.
CNC machining produces very high-quality parts with very close tight precision tolerances making it very accurate across 2D & 3D curves plus straight lines. CNC can be used for both rapid prototyping and low-volume end-use components. CNC finds all geometric complexity with the same ease as the machine sees each feature as a series of points from the CAD data that needs to be connected allowing for a limitless design opportunity.
The whole process & operation can run indefinitely once started as is almost entirely relies on automation, with very little operator interference, minimising the labour cost in the factory floor. The costliest part of the CNC machining process is the Set-up which includes changing of cutting heads or operations meaning that once everything is set-up & running every repeated process such as drilling or milling decreases per operation it executes. Therefore, causing a fast cycle time.
Features that are difficult to access such as undercuts or very large volume parts increases the cost of operation significantly. The environmental impacts are minimised as much as possible with this innovative & eco-friendly technology. This is because it uses a very sophisticated dust extraction technology which collects all the waste for recycling or incinerating for heat & energy use.
Advantages of CNC Machining
Parts have good physical properties, less prone to internal stress than other processes.
Set up costs are relatively low Retention so jobs can be quickly run again later.
Changes can be implemented quickly and easily for development or, within a production run
Parts can have variation or customization.
CNC Machining Materials
A wide variety of CNC Materials available from our manufacturing partners. Common CNC Materials: Aluminium 6061, Aluminium 6082, Stainless Steel 304, Stainless Steel 316, ABS, ACETAL, Nylon. – Lead times in as little as 5 Days.
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