Machined parts are one of the most common types of manufactured products in the world. These products are used in a variety of industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical.
Machining is an extremely precise process that employs computer-controlled cutting tools to shape raw materials into finished goods on a machine tool. But how do you know if machining will work for your project? What are some other considerations when designing these products?
Here’s what you need to know about machined parts:
They’re highly customizable
CNC parts are often made using tools that can create complex shapes with very little material wasted. You can use this to your advantage by designing products that have multiple components that require separate dies. This can save you both time and money, which is particularly beneficial when prototyping.
You should also consider whether or not your product should have any moving parts. Many times this isn’t an option with machined products because of the tool path used to create them. But if your product requires movement, ask yourself if there are any alternative manufacturing methods you can use, such as casting or injection molding.
They require design for manufacturability (DFM)
When creating a product that’s made using machining, it’s essential to take into consideration how the part can be manufactured and what can affect it during production. This is known as DFM, and there are many different considerations you should keep in mind:
- How will the part be manufactured? Will there be milling, drilling, or another method used?
- Does the material choice affect the process you’ll use to produce it? For example, certain materials are better suited for specific types of machining.
- What is tool life, and does that need to be factored into your design?
Tolerances are key
Machined parts typically have very tight tolerances, which is why they work so well for prototyping and other production-oriented items. But this also means you need to be precise when designing your product. How precise do the dimensions have to be? What tolerances need to be met?
The tool path influences the design, so you should take into consideration how it will affect your product. For example, a straight-up machining process using a squared-off tool will create sharp edges on your part. On the other hand, an angled cut with a chamfered tool creates beveled edges that are easier to produce and assemble.
They’re extremely accurate
The accuracy of machined parts is what makes them ideal for production and prototyping. Therefore, one of the most important considerations when designing these parts is considering tolerances early on in the process. This means having clear specifications and calculations during every step, from conceptualization to design and development.
Additionally, you should also ensure that your designs don’t have any gaps or cavities, especially those more intricate. This can lead to durability issues and could interfere with assembly.
Creating parts using machining is very time-effective. Depending on the type of machine you use, it can cut out metal (and other materials) rapidly. It’s also an ideal option for complex shapes that are difficult or even impossible to make using different methods like injection molding.
Machining parts can be cost-effective when compared with other production methods. But keep in mind that the total cost of machining your part, from start to finish, will vary depending on various factors like tool type and material. You can minimize costs by planning out your design beforehand and having all the specifications you need.
There’s a learning curve
As with many production methods, there is a learning curve when it comes to CNC machining. This can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with technical concepts like tool paths, surface finishes, and tolerances. So, it’s important to build a solid understanding of these concepts before machining your product because it will help guide the production process and prevent any unexpected delays.
You need to find a CNC machine shop that has experience with your type of product. They should be able to provide, at the very minimum, 3D modeling and CAD services so you can fully visualize your design before they produce it.
Machined parts are a great option for almost any product, but they’re particularly helpful when you need accuracy and precision. It’s important to note that there are other production methods like injection molding and die casting, but each comes with its own set of pros and cons.
No matter what type of product you’re making, you can always choose machining as a method for producing it. As long as you’re aware of the production process and its associated costs, you should have no trouble finalizing your product.