Precision Engineering has always required investment in the latest technology. The first affordable CNC machines evolved through the 70s, 80s and 90s. Small dedicated computers with paper tape readers morphed into sophisticated 5 axis machines. Technology advanced, spindle speeds increased and the software driving machine accuracy and performance improved.
Nowadays, impossible machining is commonplace and the contribution of sophisticated software is critical for the most efficient methods of manufacture on today's high-end CNC machines. If your supplier isn't investing what are you missing out on?
The problem with older CNC Machines
If your supplier hasn't invested in the latest CNC machining technology, they will not be able to provide the same level of service as those who have. In simple terms, a supplier may tell you that a 3-axis machine can do everything a 5 axis machine can. You just have to change the fixtures more often. That's fine until you want an impeller or anything with a curved surface!
Besides, fewer operations is always a good thing, there's less room for error and so less chance of annoying re-working further down the line.
Additionally, older CNC machines just cannot handle the latest software. Later models have the processing power to run the most spohisticated software and therefore employ the cutting edge tools and technology, which improve efficiency.
Thread whirling for marginal gains
Because of marginal gains, the GB Cycling team had another great Olympics. By concentrating on both the obvious - e.g. seamless skin suits - and the less obvious marginal gains - discovering the best pillows for sleep and taking them to hotels on tour - quicker times for every team member were achieved.
Engineers work for marginal gains in a similar way. For example, thread whirling combines three passes into one. So:
- Making the champfer
- Drilling the hole
- Thread milling
With a special tool, these become a single pass. Thus a marginal time saving becomes important when multiplied over an entire batch. But there's more efficiencies:
- Deep threads
- Faster setup
- Increased tool life
- Surface finish improvements
Running the latest machines with high-end software pushes machining to the limits. A workshop with this combination can offer CNC machining services other, lesser shops can only dream of...
Bringing the CNC machines to life...
It's the software and programming that brings the machines to life, allows them to use the latest tools and pushes them to their engineering limits.
It's a little like Laura Trott, high-end equipment and marginal gains combining to bring home the medals from Rio.
What about your supplier?
How well has your supplier invested? Do your orders come back with parts that don't fit, so a little re-working is required from time to time? Are deadlines missed?
- Quality machined parts
- Experience to do the job right first time
- Delivery on time