Precision machining has completely changed the way industries and businesses function globally. As of now, it holds 70% of the global machining market, and this impressive statistic is primarily due to the numerous advantages it offers. If your business is yet to adapt to the changing technological advances, then there’s a lot you’re missing out on.
This article covers the benefits of precision manufacturing. But before getting into the specifics, it’s crucial that you understand what precision machining entails.
What is Precision Manufacturing?
Precision manufacturing describes the process of removing material from a sheet or block of material to form desired shapes. Unlike in the early days when hammers and blades were used to fabricate parts, precision manufacturing relies on computer numerical control (CNC) machines to cut parts to exact specifications.
Precision machining is finding ever-increasing application in our modern world. It is now being used in the aerospace industry to create manifolds, bushings, and landing gear parts. It also plays a significant role in the medical field, where there is a need for precision parts, such as implants, prostheses, and orthotic devices.
So, what makes precision manufacturing so important, and why is there so much hype around it?
Here are 4 Important Benefits of Precision Manufacturing
Benefit No. 1: Lower Cost and Tighter Tolerance
The demand for complex custom parts with tight tolerance continues to rise across a wide range of industries. Precision CNC machining tools can guarantee tolerances as close as +/- 0.0005” on milled features and +/- 0.0001” on turned parts.
If you’re looking to rely on conventional machining methods to uphold these tolerances, then be ready to pay through the nose. Only precision manufacturing technologies allow you to create complex parts and achieve tight tolerances at affordable prices. It cuts down the labor expenses common in injection molding or casting processes and ensures high-quality parts.
Benefit No. 2: Fast production
Precision manufacturing is among the fastest machining methods available today. Unlike the conventional machining methods that rely on human control, precision machining relies on 3D CAD models, specialized software (for example, G-code), and advanced machining equipment to create custom parts.
This means you can create parts in a matter of days, whereas conventional machining methods might take weeks or even months. What’s more? Precision manufacturing eliminates human error and ensures that parts remain consistent at all times.
Benefit No. 3: Compatible with a Wide Range of Materials
Different materials pose different challenges to product designers during machining operations. For example, titanium has poor machinability due to its low thermal conductivity, high chemical reactivity, and high hardness at elevated temperatures. Although stainless steel parts are easier to machine than titanium, conventional machining methods usually alter the parts’ quality.
Precision machining is compatible with a wide range of materials. Whether you’re looking to machine titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, structural steel, copper alloy, plastics, or aluminum alloy parts, precision machining equipment will have no problem handling these materials.
Benefit No. 4: Easier Testing and Prototyping
Prototyping is a staple in most manufacturing processes. It allows product designers to test products, identify potential design flaws and prevent costly mistakes down the road. Without it, many industries may not have reached their technological levels today. However, when it comes to testing prototypes, you need a fast and reliable machining method.
Injection molding or conventional casting might seem to be good options, but how do you implement design changes based on your test results? You will have to create a new mold before new designs can be created and tested. This causes delays and significantly affects lead times.
Precision machining offers rapid prototyping capabilities. You only need to modify 3D CAD models, and the precision machining equipment will create new designs in little to no time.
Even with the numerous benefits precision manufacturing offers, a lot can go wrong if you work with the wrong manufacturer. There have been numerous horror stories about low-quality and unusable parts as well as costly manufacturing services.
Gensun Precision Machining is a leading precision machining company located in China. Our expert engineers and technicians are helping businesses create high-quality and precise parts using advanced manufacturing equipment. We also have a team of quality control experts, and our production facilities are ISO 9001:2015 certified for quality.
Aluminum’s desirable physical properties and excellent machinability make it one of the most preferred metal choices among product designers. However, even after you’ve come up with the design for an aluminum component or part, you don’t want to get all the way to manufacturing these parts without ever building a prototype.
But here’s the problem; when it comes to aluminum prototype manufacturing, you have a long list of options to choose from, including CNC machining, 3D printing, and investment casting. Each of these methods comes with its advantages and drawbacks. A wrong choice can lead to high tooling and manufacturing costs, non-functional and unusable parts.
This article covers three popular methods for manufacturing aluminum prototypes. But to help you understand which method is best suited for your prototyping project, it’s essential that we first consider the different forms an aluminum prototype can take.
Different Forms of Aluminum Prototypes
Prototypes typically come in 3 types:
Alpha prototypes: These are the most basic type of prototypes. They are usually non-functional and used only for a visual representation of ideas or concepts.
Beta prototypes: They are functional prototypes that are close enough to the final product or part. These prototypes are usually put through testing to troubleshoot design flaws.
Production prototypes: They are fully-functional prototypes that have undergone refinements based on the results obtained from beta prototype tests. These prototypes will be identical to the final components.
Let’s take a look at three different methods for manufacturing aluminum prototypes.
Method #1: CNC Machining
CNC machining is one of the most common machining methods for creating aluminum prototypes. This machining process relies on computer inputs to precisely control machining tools to remove sections of the aluminum workpiece, leaving behind the desired part. But what makes the CNC machining process special, and when should you use it?
CNC machining offers good quality, great surface finish, repeatability, and it is compatible with a wide range of aluminum alloys. What’s more? Because the CNC machining process starts with creating 3D CAD models, you can quickly alter the designs between prototypes without affecting lead times.
CNC machining is particularly suitable for beta and production prototypes. With the 5-axis CNC milling machine, you can create complex prototypes that other machining methods will struggle with.
Method #2: 3D Printing
3D printing is another popular way of creating aluminum prototypes. 3D printed aluminum prototypes can be made using the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology. Here, powdered aluminum particles are sintered together in layers to form desired shapes using a high-power laser.
Like the CNC machining process, 3D printing relies on 3D CAD models to create aluminum prototypes accurately. Its minimum feature size ranges between 0.25 mm and 0.8 mm, allowing the fabrication of complex geometries with complex internal sections. However, 3D-printed aluminum prototypes don’t come off the line cheap and will often require additional surface treatment.
Creating an aluminum prototype via 3D printing will often cost more than CNC machining. As such, 3D printing is better suited for fabricating small parts, particularly beta and production prototypes. They may also be used for fabricating alpha prototypes, provided that you won’t be making design changes often.
Method #3: Investment casting
Investment casting, also known as precision casting, is a centuries-old casting process used for creating aluminum prototypes. Here, the aluminum parts are made by pouring molten aluminum into a mold that has been created by means of a wax model.
Investment casting offers excellent surface finish, tight dimensional tolerances and is compatible with a wide range of aluminum alloys. Also, material wastage is lower in investment casting than in CNC machining. The only drawback of this process is its size limitation. It may not be your best option if you’re looking to fabricate a bulky aluminum component.
Although investment casting can be used for machining alpha, beta, and production prototypes, it is best suited for fabricating small intricate components in large quantities. This is because production cost per unit decreases with larger orders.
Choosing a machining method for your aluminum prototyping project is just the first step; your project’s success largely depends on your manufacturing partner. You want to work with a prototype manufacturer that has state-of-the-art machining equipment as well as experienced machinists.
Gensun Precision Machining is a leading precision machining company located in China. We offer high-quality CNC machining, investment casting, and 3D printing services and can help you develop prototypes for your project.
The electronics industry is one of the largest industrial sectors in the global economy. It encompasses a wide range of products, from large consumer electronics to miniaturized electronic components.
Different manufacturing methods are used to fabricate these components, but none has as much impact on the electronics industry as CNC machining. Even Apple had to ditch other manufacturing methods and rely on CNC machining for MacBook’s unibody enclosure.
This article looks at 5 ways CNC machining technology is used in the electronics industry and how it is helping businesses overcome the challenges associated with electronic parts machining.
1. Casings and Enclosures
Casings and enclosures are a staple in most electronic products. Not only do they keep electronic components in place, but they also protect fragile components from external hazards like liquid and dust, as well as bumps.
Although die casting is a widely used process for fabricating these enclosures, CNC machining is fast becoming a more reliable and preferred method. They can produce more complex geometries, achieve tighter tolerances, and offer higher strength compared to die casting and injection molding.
Apple relies heavily on CNC machining processes to fabricate the iPhone, iPad, and unibody shell of the MacBook. MacBook casings are carved out from an extruded block of aluminum using CNC machines. The keyboard holes and “thumbscoop” (the sleek recession that allows you to open the display lid) are also created using CNC milling machines.
2. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are essential components in all electronic devices; they electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways made of copper and laminated onto a non-conductive base material.
The conductive pathways on most PCBs are made using a process of chemical etching. Here, the PCB designer covers the desired pathways before submerging the board in ferric chloride solution. This solution removes the uncovered areas of copper, leaving behind the desired circuit layout.
However, chemical etching has its drawbacks; prolonged exposures to ferric chloride causes skin and eye irritation, increases iron-buildup in the body, and may damage the liver. It also requires extensive waste disposal procedures.
CNC machining eliminates these challenges and is used as an alternative to etching. The desired copper network channels are designed using CAD/CAM software and created using a high-precision CNC milling machine.
3. Heat Sinks
All electronic devices and circuitry feature components that generate heat during operation. The overall performance of these devices largely depends on the thermal management systems put in place by the manufacturers. Heat sinks serve the purpose of transferring the heat from the components to a liquid coolant or air.
CNC machining technology is the most popular method of machining heat sinks. Using the CNC milling machine, a machinist can easily fabricate heat sinks with complex geometries out of metal blocks.
CNC machining technology offers faster turnaround, more material or metal options, and tighter tolerances than injection molding. What’s more? CNC machined heat sinks have higher thermal conductivity than bonded heat sinks.
4. Sockets and Connectors
Electronic devices are designed to communicate with other devices, and this is achieved through the use of sockets and connectors. A socket is an opening that fits another device with matching pins or connectors, thereby allowing the transmission of electrical, electromagnetic, or optical signals.
Sockets and connectors come in different shapes, sizes, functionalities and require very tight tolerances during manufacture. A slight error during fabrication means the connection between devices will fail.
CNC plays a big role in the manufacture of these components, primarily because it allows product designers to fabricate complex geometries while ensuring a fast turnaround. Additionally, with CNC machining, tooling costs are minimal, and prototypes can be easily modified using CAD/CAM software.
Semiconductors make today’s technological marvels in the electronics industry possible. They can perform the function of vacuum tubes having hundreds of times their size, yet an increasingly competitive semiconductor market demands smaller, more precise package designs.
CNC machining is critical to producing semiconductor components, primarily because of its accuracy and ability to process a wide range of materials. Semiconductors can be composed of one element, such as silicon or germanium, or doped with other elements. An experienced CNC machinist will have no problem handling any of these materials.
Even with the popularity of CNC machining technology in the electronics industry, only a few companies have experienced machinists and state-of-the-art CNC machines to create intricate electronic parts.
Gensun Precision Machining is a leading precision CNC machining company located in China. We specialize in precision CNC machining and offer high-quality CNC machining services to electronic companies worldwide.
Ever since Richard Kegg developed the first CNC machine in 1952, the market size for CNC machines and other custom machining equipment has risen exponentially.
The global machining market was estimated to be worth USD 341.91 billion in 2019, with precision machining holding 70% of the market size and conventional machining accounting for the remaining 30%. If you’re yet to implement custom machining in your business, your competitors could be gaining a competitive advantage over you.
This article covers everything you need to know about custom machining, including its advantages over other manufacturing methods.
What is Custom Machining?
Custom machining is a type of machining that involves creating parts that fill a specific purpose or according to a customer’s specification. It relies on manual machining equipment as well as advanced machining equipment (for example, CNC turning, CNC milling, and laser cutting machines) to create high-quality parts.
The machinery required for a particular project depends on the shape, size, and type of material you’re to work on. For some parts, manual lathes will suffice; for others, you might have to rely on a 5-axis CNC machine.
So, is custom machining the right solution to your machining needs? If you fall under any of the four categories below, you must not give custom machining a second thought.
4 Scenarios That Require Custom Machining Services
1. You’re looking to replace discontinued or obsolete parts
While most machine parts have a short service life, some machinery or parts can be used for years or even decades without the need for extensive maintenance or replacement. Are you looking to replace parts that are out of production by the manufacturers? You have to consider custom machining.
Through reverse engineering and using CNC machining equipment, a custom manufacturing company can create CAD models and recreate the discontinued parts you need but can’t find elsewhere.
2. You need a low volume of parts quickly and at a low price
Are you in urgent need of a small batch of machined parts or plastic components? Chances are that you’ve reached out to a conventional machining company or injection molding company, but you find their quotation higher than your budget.
A custom manufacturing company can help you out with this. Since you require a low volume of machined parts, this company won’t have to purchase special tooling to begin the project. They can get right on with the machining and provide you with the machined parts in no time.
3. You want to work with difficult material
Are you experiencing challenges with machining certain engineering materials? This is normal; certain engineering materials pose problems during machining for several reasons.
For example, bronze alloys generally have lesser elongation and ductility than steel. Hence, they are more prone to fracture during cutting operations. On the other hand, plastics have low melting points and may melt, chip, or go out of tolerance as you remove the material.
In such cases, you need specialized custom equipment to help you carry out the process smoothly. A custom laser cutter can help you cut bronze and other metals, while a custom plastic CNC machine cuts plastic without issues.
4. The part you need has special requirements
Are you looking to create parts that have special requirements? This is common in the automotive and medical industries, and a typical example would be in the design of prostheses for patients.
For this, you don’t want to reach out to an injection molding company. These special parts typically require a high degree of accuracy as well as tight tolerances. A slight error during production will render them useless for application.
Using custom plastic machining equipment, a custom manufacturing company can help you to produce these parts precisely and according to the dimensions you provide.
Advantages of Custom Machining Over Other Conventional Machining Methods
1. Increased efficiency and productivity
Custom machining equipment eliminates the possibility of human error and guarantees consistent results. For example, a CNC machine can perform tasks 24/7 without slowing down or taking a break, whereas a plastic injection molding device will require an operator to perform repetitive tasks.
A CNC machine utilizes G-code (a specific CNC equipment language) to precisely control features like speed, coordination, location, and feed rate. This machine only requires a programmer at the end of the control to command the entire operation.
2. Faster project completion and reduced number of machining operations
Custom machines require a lesser number of machining operations to create the desired part compared to other conventional machining methods. This allows you to complete tasks faster while maintaining a high degree of accuracy.
So, let’s say you’re looking to cut a multi-stepped hole in a manifold. Using conventional machining methods, you will need two standard drills of different sizes and a countersinking tool to cut this feature. However, a CNC milling machine will produce this feature in a single operation.
What’s more? Custom machining equipment allows you to modify machining instructions without experiencing delays between production runs.
3. Higher profits
You can increase profit margins by using manual labor instead of custom machining services, right? Wrong! Manual labor only yields short-term benefits. If you’re looking to realize higher, long-term profit margins, you must rely on machining shops or centers offering custom machining services.
Gensun Precision Machining is a leading precision machining company located in China. With our state-of-the-art custom machining equipment, we have been helping customers worldwide to produce high-quality parts with tight tolerances. Our production facilities are ISO 9001:2015 certified for quality and ISO 14001:2015 certified for environmental management.
If you’re looking to work with a new-generation machine shop with the expertise to manufacture precision parts for aerospace, automotive, electronics, and other demanding industries, reach out to us! You can also request a quote if you already have product drawings or 3D model data files.