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Turning Metal into Precise Components with CNC Machining
In today's high-tech world, many products rely on extremely precise metal components to function properly. From medical devices to aerospace systems, accuracy and consistency are critical when fabricating small metal parts. CNC (computer numerical control) machining has become an indispensable manufacturing process for creating these intricate turned parts out of various metals and alloys.
What is CNC Machining?
CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that uses computer-controlled tools to remove material from a block or billet of metal to produce a part. The machining is controlled by a computer program that dictates things like feed rate, speed, location and depth of cuts. This enables the automation of highly complex and repetitive tasks with a high degree of consistency and accuracy.
CNC mills and lathes utilize cutting tools like drill bits, boring bars and endmills to shape metals including aluminum, steel, titanium and brass. The machinist uploads the CAD design into the CNC machine, which then uses code to position the cutting tools and remove the unwanted material until only the finished part remains. This process creates turned parts, threaded components, fittings, prototypes and more for all types of industries.
Benefits of CNC Turning
There are several key benefits that make CNC machining ideal for producing custom metal turned parts and brass turned components:
Precision - CNC machines offer extremely high levels of dimensional accuracy and repeatability. Complex geometries can be machined to tolerances of +/- 0.005 inches or finer. This level of precision is difficult to achieve manually.
Efficiency - CNC automation enables the rapid production of intricate parts that would take excessive time and skill to make manually. CNC also allows unattended machining operations like overnights and weekends.
Consistency - The computer numeric control capabilities ensure each part is machined identically. This reduces variations and rejects.
Flexibility - CNC programs can be quickly altered to accommodate design changes. This facilitates fast revisions and prototyping.
Versatility - Modern CNC machines have automatic tool changing capabilities. This allows them to drill, turn, mill and create threads. Multiple operations can be performed in one setup.
Cost Effectiveness - CNC produces components efficiently, reducing overall machining costs especially for mid to high volume production runs.
Ideal Metals for CNC Turning
CNC lathes and mills are commonly used to machine parts from aluminum, steel, stainless steel, brass, titanium and plastics like acetal. Each material has characteristics that determine the appropriate cutting tools and speeds to use.
Aluminum - This lightweight metal is one of the most commonly machined materials. It cuts smoothly allowing for high production rates. Aircraft fittings, scientific instruments and medical equipment frequently utilize CNC machined aluminum parts.
Steel - Strong yet economical, steel is another top choice for machined components. It is harder than aluminum so lower feed rates are required. Steels parts are found in machinery, tools, industrial equipment and molds. Leaded steels offer improved machining qualities.
Stainless Steel - With its high corrosion resistance, stainless steel is essential for medical, food service and sanitary applications. The 300 series austenitic stainless grades work best for CNC turning and milling. Feed rates need to be lower to accommodate the increased hardness and toughness.
Brass - Primarily an alloy of copper and zinc, brass produces beautiful turned decorative parts and hardware components. Leaded brass alloys are often selected for their superior machinability. Brass is also utilized to make plumbing fittings and valves.
Titanium - With its unrivaled strength-to-weight ratio, titanium is becoming more common in aerospace applications. Due to its low thermal conductivity, high cutting speeds and specialty tooling are required to machine titanium efficiently. This increases the component's cost but provides a superior performing lightweight part.
Acetal - Also known as POM (polyoxymethylene), acetal plastic has excellent dimensional stability making it ideal for precision turned plastic components. Acetal machines smoothly with low friction but does create stringy chips that must be managed.
Secondary Machining Operations
In addition to basic turning, boring and drilling, CNC machining centers can perform a variety of secondary operations to produce completed components.
Milling - CNC mills utilize endmills and slot drills to add flats, slots, holes and contours. Keyways and splines can also be milled into turned parts.
Threading - Internal and external threads are frequently added to components. Single or multi-point tools create precise and strong threaded features.
Grooving - Turned parts often require grooves for O-rings, seals and retaining rings. Grooving tools can be used to cut external, internal and face grooves.
Knurling - A diamond pattern applied to the outside diameter provides an improved gripping surface. Often seen on knobs and handles.
Deburring - The machining process leaves behind a burr which must be removed to ensure proper function and feel. Passivating stainless steel is also recommended to maximize corrosion resistance.
Benefits of Working with a CNC Turning Specialist
From raw material selection through final inspection, an experienced CNC machining shop like All-State Industries has the expertise to provide cost-effective precision turned parts. They bring the following benefits to your manufacturing project:
- Advanced Equipment - The latest CNC lathes and mills ensure tight tolerances, superior finishes and efficient production. Live tooling further expands capabilities.
- Material Knowledge - They provide material recommendations to meet the performance requirements while optimizing machinability and cost. This includes using leaded alloys like 360 brass or 12L14 steel.
- Design for Manufacturability - They can analyze part designs and suggest changes to streamline machining. Simpler parts with fewer operations reduce overall production costs.
- Secondary Services - Most offer additional services like plating, painting and heat treating to provide completed turnkey components.
- Quality Systems - Robust quality control procedures combined with advanced metrology equipment validate that each part meets your specifications.
Trust an established CNC turning shop to deliver high-quality precision metal and brass turned parts tailored to your specific application needs. Their expertise and capabilities in CNC machining ensure you get parts that fit, perform and last. CNC Milling CNC Machining