Today's CNC machining shop should accommodate orders from a single-piece prototype to production quantities. In order to be responsive to the demands of diesel engine manufacturers, heavy equipment, and aerospace applications, the component manufacturer needs skilled machinists and the finest of machine tools and equipment.
To deliver a wide range of part types and sizes, the manufacturer must have a major quality control program in place. The program should incorporate steps that include statistical process control (SPC) through final part inspection. These quality methods should be combined with good materials as well as topnotch equipment and talented personnel.
A variety of operations are built into the experienced and successful shop; they include the following:
- Computer Numerical Control Machining:also known as CNC machining, consists of machine tools, known as a machining center, which is equipped with as many as 200 tools and an automatic toolchanger. These machines are designed to perform various operations on different surfaces of the workpiece, which is placed on a pallet capable of as much as five-axis movement. The advantages of computer numerical control include ease of operation, simpler programming, greater accuracy, versatility, low maintenance costs and high productivity. Disadvantages include high initial cost of equipment and the need for trained personnel.
- Turning:A machining operation for all types of metallic and nonmetallic materials, capable of producing circular parts with straight or various profiles. Lathes are the most common machine turning work is performed on.
- Boring:A machining process for producing internal straight cylindrical surfaces or profiles, with process characteristics and tooling similar to those for turning operations.
- Drilling:A hole-making process that uses a drill as a cutting tool for producing round holes of various sizes and depths.
- Reaming:A machining process that is used to enlarge or finish holes. Reaming provides accurate dimensions as well as a good finish.
- Threading:A machining process in which threads are formed on the outside or inside of a cylinder or cone.
- Milling:One of the most versatile machining processes, capable of producing a variety of shapes involving flat surfaces, slots and contours.
- Gear cutting:A machining process classified as either forming or generating. In a forming process, the shape of the tool is reproduced on the workpiece. In a generating process, the shape produced on the workpiece depends on the shape of the tool as well as the relative motion between the tool and workpiece cutting operation.
- Broaching:A machining process in which a cutter finishes internal or external surfaces such as holes of circular, square or irregular section, keyways, the teeth of internal gears, multiple spline holes and flat surfaces.
- Abrasive Processes:These consist of a variety of operations in which the tool is made of an abrasive material, the most common of which are grinding, honing and lapping.
- Balancing:A machining process that can be categorized into two groups, static and dynamic balancing. Static balancing locates the areas and amount of imbalance by rotating a part on its center and then using a drilling process to remove material to bring the imbalance into equilibrium. Dynamic balancing is used primarily for long cylindrical parts. A cylindrical part can be in perfect static balance and not be in a balanced state when rotating at high speed. Dynamic balancing is performed by locating a cylindrical part on its ends and rotating the part. The imbalance is then corrected by removing weight or adding weight at the opposite end and plane.
- Magnaflux inspection:A nondestructive inspection process used to locate structural discontinuities in iron and steel. The method can detect surface and subsurface discontinuities. The part is covered with a magnetic solution and the part is magnetized. The magnetic solution is drawn into any discontinuities and appears as structural discontinuities or cracks.
- Ultrasonic inspection:An inspection method that uses high frequency mechanical vibrational energy to detect and locate structural discontinuities or differences and to measure thickness of a variety of materials.
Constant updates of equipment, machining techniques and quality assurance methods are essential. Consistent expansion of support capabilities requires Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), bar coding, metallographic testing, magnetic particle inspection and precision balancing.
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