Have a look around. Do you see parts made of metals or plastic or a design that would be otherwise hard to get using a method other than CNC machining? Look at the component from which you’re reading this. The device has many different sized parts, some of which were made in a CNC machine shop. That’s not all as there is more to discover.
1. What Is a CNC Machine Shop?
A CNC machine shop is a place/ facility where various metal and plastic parts are cut, formed, and shaped using CNC machining equipment. The facility is constructed to house CNC machines and be a friendly working environment for engineers, machinists, and other employees. Compared with the machine shops existed in the 19th century, today’s machine shops, however, are very different. Get to know more AutoProtoWay.com’s custom cnc capabilities.
2. The Evolution Of Computer Numerical Control Concept
In the mid-20th century, CNC machining was a manual process. Getting precise, efficient part depended on the skills of the engineer and those that operated the machine. In the past 20 years, things have continually changed, making CNC machining accurate and fast. Today, a machine shop doesn’t need to have as many employees as it needed a century ago. Thanks to digitization, CNC machines can now produce precise parts by filling specific instructions on a computer that guides the machine. Production is also fast and convenient.
3. How the CNC Machining Is Converting the Impossible to Possible
Over a hundred years ago, it was impossible to get small components. That why we read that there were big computers that could hardly fit a room. If nothing changed, we could still be having very few computers around the world due to their large sizes. However, this has changed thanks to the CNC technology that has made it possible to get small composed parts serving the same purpose a large part would do. Instead of large computers that you can’t carry around, now you can get a hand-sized phone, a laptop, and other parts, working optimally.
4. What You’ll Find in a Machine Shop
Depending on the size and what services a machine shop has to offer, it comes with its set of equipment. Let’s discover some of the equipment you’re likely to come across in case you visit one.
- CNC Milling Machine: milling machine is equipment that uses the rotation concept to remove unwanted material from metals, plastic, and other raw materials until it achieves the desired prototype.
- Machining Center: machining center has a similar operating concept as a milling machine. The difference is that machining center equipment is used to produce complex items in the shortest time possible. The machine relies on computer fed instructions that control its operation.
- Lathe: another machine you can find in a CNC machine shop is a lathe. Unlike a milling machine where a component rotates cutting off unwanted material, the lathe rotates the raw material in contact with cutting equipment to achieve the desired prototype.
- Coordinate Measuring Machine: a coordinate measuring machine is a tool that measures the geometry of a product to confirm it matches with what a client instructed.
- Surface Finishing Tools: these tools are used to smooth out produced items ensuring they get a gloss look, a polished look, or any achievable look a client requests.
- Electrical Discharge Machining Equipment: often referred to as EDM, electrical discharge machining is a form of electric sparks to remove unwanted material from a workpiece.
- Drill Press: drill press is efficient drilling equipment compared to a handheld drill. It is used to drill holes and in other processes in a machine shop.
- Grinding Machine: a grinding machine uses an abrasive wheel to grate through a material until you get the specified product.
- Bandsaw: a bandsaw is an equipment that cuts straight through a raw material before the material is put under a CNC machine for further cuts.
5. Choosing the Best Online or Brick and Mortar CNC Machine Shop
Choosing a CNC shop translates to the results you get. You can choose an average shop with a traditional machine and get average produced products or choose a top-notch shop and get high-end products. Check these factors to ensure you’re choosing only the best company.
- License: it is important to consult with a licensed company if you don’t want to be associated with an illegal business. Most CNC businesses have to demonstrate their skills and ability to offer services before a government grants them a license. You can start by checking the company’s web page to find its ISO and license number.
- Expertise and Experience: the level of expertise and experience of a machine shop you choose could reflect the end product you get. An experienced company has the skills to produce any design for a product, thanks to lengthy exposure.
- Efficiency and Reliability: before you begin a working relationship with a CNC shop, ensure it’s efficient and reliable. Efficiency, in this case, means the shop has modern CNC machining equipment that ensures precision and high-quality production. Reliability refers to the shop delivering as per your needs and before the deadline.
- Budget: another factor to consider is your budget. Usually, each machine shop will quote a unique amount for the same service you’re looking for. The quality of production may differ but it’s likely to get high-quality products with your set budget.
- Data Privacy: say you want a custom CNC machined item. While you don’t want the specification about the product leaking to other businesses, you need to choose a company that won’t disclose the item. If possible, ask for a non-disclosure agreement.
- Quality of Production: find out what the said shop has produced in the past. Investigate the level of quality of materials they use, how the end product looks, and everything regarding customer satisfaction with what they order.
- Availability of Materials: a material like aluminum is readily available in many CNC machine shops. However, most shops lack in availability of aluminum alloys. The bottom line is, ensure a shop has access to all specific materials you need your products to come in.
6. How to Be Safe in a Machine Shop
Safety should be your utmost goal when working in a machine shop. Here are some tips:
Physically and Mentally Healthy
Anybody operating or working in a machine shop should be mentally and physically healthy. Don’t attend work if you know you can’t make the right judgment or when an illness can prevent you from working optimally.
Wearing the Right Clothing and Other Gears
Things like jewelry, loose clothes, and flammable clothes should not be worn in a CNC machine shop. Instead, you should wear fitting overall, closed comfortable shoes, and goggles to prevent chips and other objects from injuring your eyes. Your hair should also be tired and placed under a cap.
Understanding the Ins And Outs of All Machinery
It’s crucial not to deal with a machine if you don’t understand. An expert should monitor all workers especially those without solid experience in handling machinery. Machinists should also attend seminars to learn how to use a new machine or retrace how to use an existing machine.
Working in a Clean Area
Working in a clean CNC machine shop prevents slippage and dust from holding on to the machinery and rendering them ineffective. Removing waste such as scrap metals and plastic also prevent a possible fire hazard.
Putting Up Measures to Prevent Distractions
Although CNC machines may produce some noise, it is not all distracting. So instead of listening to music on your phone via headphones, use noise-canceling headphones if you must. You shouldn’t use a phone or any other thing that might distract you from concentrating on work.
Ensuring There Is Someone to Attend to Machinery at All Time
CNC machines can run for 24 hours throughout the year without any interruption. However, it doesn’t mean that the machine should be left unattended even if your engagement isn’t required. It is crucial to divide watch hours to a maximum of 8 to prevent exhaustion of employee which could lead to risks such as an explosion, you’re preventing in the first place.
Storing Every Equipment and Hazardous Ingredients Safely
Every tool should be stored in a clean safe box where workers cannot trip over them. If an item can ignite a flame or is hazardous, it should be placed in a convenient storage box marked as flammable or hazardous depending on what’s stored inside.
Marking Machinery and Exit Points
Usually, all machinery likely to have a risk of explosion, use low or high voltage, or are pressure equipment come with Declaration of Conformity (the equivalent of European Conformity mark, CE) mark to show it complies with the technical and legal requirement of a machine. Apart from the DOC mark, you need to put up other marking such as “dangerous signs” on machinery to alert users of the danger of going near an operating machine. It’s also important to mark exit points to make them identifiable in case of an emergency.
7. The Advantages of Choosing the Best CNC Machining Company
Choosing the best CNC shop comes with its advantages. Here are some:
Independent Quality Assurance Team
The best CNC machining shop has an independent quality assurance team. Having a unique team from other engineers and machinist is advised as the team perform in-process inspection and final inspection n a part to approve or fail the process or the part if passes quality standards. That way, you get high-end items.
The best CNC machining company must promise to use the shortest time possible to deliver a client’s need. From uploading the desired model to quoting and producing a product, the best shop should deliver within the deadline they give you.
No Minimum Quantity
Another advantage of choosing the best CNC machine shop around is you’re not limited to a specific production quantity. The said company should be able to produce one or many similar items.
Every company associated with good production and services prides itself on the expertise it has. A company that specializes in a specific service or product is known to be the best at it.
The Availability of Numerous Equipment to Complete a Custom Job
A start-up business may not have all the equipment needed to complete the production of a part. Such a company will need to complete one section of the production and send the part to another company to complete the process. This length process exposes your data and increases the chances of mistakes. However, if you delegate a task to a company with all equipment it needs to complete the production of a part, chances are there will be no mistakes or jeopardizing of your data.
Thanks to CNC machine shops around the world, it’s possible to get any part cut, formed, and shaped. Yet, it is still ideal to choose a shop based on several qualities. Ensure you follow the above tips before settling with a specific shop as your production partner.
8. Choose The Right CNC Machine Shop to Custom Your Machining Project
Are you looking for a reliable CNC machine shop to start your machining project? AutoProtoWay.com will help you to get all answers to the machine shop in detail. Let’s get started.
CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, while the word CNC machining is about the manufacturing process of machine parts all way governed by the computational software. All work is done under the influence of computerized controls with manual operation. In other words, a CNC machine is a programmable machine that works on a command-based system. One command is fed in it, it works automatically to carry out the due procedure. It is the manufacturing industry that deals with all subtractive processes which lead to the production of custom machined parts.
Unlike those hardware or tool shops and stores, a professional machine shop is a place where the machine parts are manufactured on a large scale. It is a room or building loaded with machinery that helps to produce plastic or metallic machine parts. Here technical procedures are carried out i.e. drilling, cutting, molding, and modification. A machine shop is well equipped with all the heavy-duty machinery that omits all the impurities from the raw material and converts the latter into final products.
9. Stages of CNC Machining in a CNC Machine Shop
Be it metals or plastics, the CNC machine under the influence of computerized controls, mold the raw materials or remove the outer layers of provided materials and turn them in to desired shape and size as per the commands. The CNC machine shop is all about various machines that are computer driven and convert the starting materials in to custom machine parts. There are four stages in which CNC machining proceeds, here they are:
- Designing the model
The CNC machining procedure begins with creation of either a 2D vector or 3D CAD design. This design is like a prototype that helps in creating the complete lie with particular dimensions, size and features. Once the design is created and check for any errors, the procedure steps to mode. Any incapability or limitation is due to CNC machine or tools employed for the creation. As soon as the CAD design is completed, it is then converted into CNC programmable version.
- Conversion of file format
This conversion is basically from CAD file format to CNC machine program. A CNC program can be STEP or IGES. These file formats are supported by CAM software to extract the geometry of the design in order to give command to the CNC machine for creating the part. The command language used to order a CNC machine is G-code. This code carries all the instructions to command the machine for operations on workpiece.
- Passing commands to CNC machine
As the CNC program is setup, next step is to load all the instructions to the machine. Prior to loading the commands, the workpiece should be loaded on the machine, on to the spindles and other parts. Mandatory tools should also be attached.
- Execution of operation
As mentioned above, the machine works on commands fed to system. All the commands are about tooling operations. The tools meant for drilling, tearing, scraping and finishing are controlled by the Cam software of machine. Hence, after a complete cycle, the end product i.e. custom machine part is created.
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