It is obvious that the most magnificent manufacturing process of the 21st century is 3D printing, laser engraving and/or something to do with semiconductor fabrication. However, we should be aware that neither of these manufacturing processes has the strength to shift the world as powerful as CNC machining. Similar to dust, CNC machined parts are everywhere.
So here is some questions for you. Have you traveled in an automobile or airplane recently? Been to the dentist? Used a computer or smartphone? If your answer is yes, you should be thankful to a machinist. CNC machined parts are the constituents of an infinite number of manufactured products. They can be utilized in aircraft turbine engines, on vehicle production lines, in agricultural equipment, in surgical robots, in public transportation, and almost everywhere in the military.
THE BEGINNINGS OF CNC MANUFACTURING
CNC which stands for ‘Computer Numerical Control’ describes the way how machines are programmed to make very accurate cuts in materials like stainless steel, titanium, and even plastic.
It is usually confirmed that modern CNC manufacturing has established with John T. Parsons in Traverse City, MI., who was working with the military in World War II to produce helicopters. He wanted to have a faster, more efficient way of manufacturing rotary blades in order to meet the demands of the war requirements. This led him to earn a tagline: The Father of Numerical Control.
He managed the design and application of the first numerical control milling machine. This improvement was achieved in co-operation with his Chief Engineer and Vice President of Engineering, Frank L. Stulen, who Parsons hired when he was head of the Rotary Wing Branch of the Propeller Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in April 1946. Moreover, they were the first to use computer methods to solve machining problems, the accurate interpolation of the curves which describes helicopter rotor blades.
In the following decades, numerical controlled (NC) milling machines transferred into computer numerical controlled (CNC) machines as computers became more compact and software became more sophisticated. Between the 1940s and the 1980s, CNC machines became accessible to small and medium-sized manufacturers thanks to technological advances. This led CNC machining of component parts to become the industry standard by the late 1980s.
CNC MANUFACTURING TODAY
CNC machining is a subtractive process. This means that material is taken out from stock using very precise, simultaneous, high-speed motions. This precision allows manufacturers to designate the hundreds of parts with exact dimensions.
An example for this is a housing adapter, which is used in several products to combine two other parts without any loose connections or leakage. At SPM it is possible to produce a stainless steel housing adaptor with more than 60 dimensions for a customer in the aerospace industry, which was 1.16″ long with numerous dimensions requiring tolerances of +/- .0005″ and a 32 micro finish. This kind of precise measurements for a component part would have been beyond the bounds of possibility 50 years ago. Nowadays, imaginations are the only limit of product designers. If they can create it, we can produce it. CNC Manufacturing has changed society’s definition of customer satisfaction by defying what is called the impossible.
As mentioned in the above, CNC machines are very efficient, secure, safe, and extremely accurate. Their precision is measured in thousands of an inch, referred to as thou. That is to say, standard machining can provide tolerances on parts around ±0.005″, fine machining can produce tolerances of ±0.001″, and specialized processes like CNC Swiss Precision Machining can offer up repeatable tolerances as tight as ±0.0005″.
Moreover, on certain implications, they can even hold +/- .0001 (as a reference, a human hair is .00069 inches thick). To add to that, multiple features can be produced simultaneously and assiduously. These opportunities enable producers to do continuous development and gain a competitive pro in the marketplace. At Swiss Precision Machining, we provide CNC machining services for a great versatility of industries, involving medical, automotive, electronics, fiber optics, and aerospace.