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A differentiating factor in cutting edge industries is the time it takes to transform an idea into a viable, effective product. The company that develops the product first gets the proverbial worm. This ensures not only possible revenue from sales but also the potential of government grants or contracts. It pays to be ahead of the pack.
In order to create an environment that fosters expedient and ingenious production, a company must provide the most versatile and advanced tools for product development. One such tool is the 5-axis CNC machine. This machine is capable of transforming previously unwieldy materials such as steel, alloys, rock, and almost any other practical material that can be used for industrial applications. Essentially, this shifts a company’s attention away from technological capacity to programming creativity. Programming the CNC machine is the only process that separates an engineer’s design from a new product.
The healthcare industry is a beneficiary of this technology because it allows biomedical engineers the ability to produce seamless and intricate pieces to be used in prosthetic and interventional procedures. For instance, hip or knee replacements that must be formed from a noncorrosive metal can be custom milled with extraordinary precision for optimal performance in human application.
The rigorous safety standards and cutting edge design of today’s aircrafts demand no less than the most advanced parts manufacturing system. With CNC machining, the advanced geometry of aircraft components, such as honeycomb-patterned metal, can be achieved. This means more efficient design, higher performance, and happier end-users. Companies that can obtain this technology will be at a significant advantage from a product spec point of view. The versatility of this application may contribute to the growing interest in developing aircraft capable of travel beyond our own atmosphere. This concept may become more practical and pay testament to CNC machining’s unrivaled potential.
One of the most common materials used in the fabrication of many consumer products is plastic. It comes in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Machining various types of plastic can be a delicate task; however, with the efficient efforts of a CNC machine it can be done precisely time after time. Some growing areas of plastic application are automotive fixtures, construction components, and general metal to plastic conversions. Plastic is less expensive than most other materials and can have a variety of different properties, which makes it an ideal medium for taking advantage of CNC machining.
Changes to the machining industry will be coming soon, in the form of an update to the ISO 9001 standards. ISO 9001: 2015 has been voted forward and will be finalized for implementation in upcoming months. The standards are updated every three to five years, to keep them inline with the needs of the industry and the changing ways in which business is done around the world.
The updates to ISO 9001: 2015 are primarily focused on quality management standards, and the ability of the system to conform to the needs of a variety of diverse industries. Risk-based thinking and applicability are the buzzwords in this ISO update. The draft has been written to maintain the processes that have already been established by past versions, but three new core standards are being applied.
Applicability and Management of Processes
Meeting customer expectations for quality and service is, of course, the primary purpose of applying the ISO standards to any business. The ISO 9001: 2015 applies systematic definitions of management and processes to ensure consistent quality. The new standard emphasizes the strategic direction of the company itself. It seeks to encourage machining companies and others in the industries served to form their long-term goals in compliance with the standards.
Plan, Do, Check, Act
Planning is, of course, important to the machining process. The new ISO 9001: 2015 standard seeks to implement a “Plan, do, check, act” methodology, which is a procedural concept that incorporates “risk-based thinking” ideology. By considering the best course of action before implementing a new process or procedure, companies can work through the decision-making process more deliberately and efficiently. The plan, do, check, act methodology helps companies assess whether their processes are merging efficiently to move them toward their goals.
Risk Based Thinking
Aimed at avoiding undesirable outcomes, risk-based thinking encourages managers to consider the larger picture when implementing new processes. By considering the risks and all possible outcomes of each choice, a company can avoid failures by embracing the procedures that are best suited to help achieve goals.
For machining companies that are already certified in the ISO 9001 standards, there will be a transition period of three years before systems will need to be compliant to the new standards. The transition period will give companies an opportunity to become familiar with the updated standard, and to decide how to implement the updates into their own practices and systems. High quality is a goal across the industry, and one that the ISO 9001: 2015 standards seek to uphold.
Traditional two-axis machining has been used to cut objects in the molding industry for years, but five-axis machining has become a popular production technique among manufacturers. Two-axis machining allows objects to be modified on two coordinates, which limits the use of this technology to flat-surfaced objects. Five-axis machining, however, allows objects to be modified on five coordinates. This allows for the creation of multi-dimensional products at a much quicker rate. Traditional two-axis machining is advantageous for the creation of simple objects, but five-axis machining has allowed for the creation of more complex, intricate parts. Five-axis production takes less time, is more accurate, and allows the manufacturer to create the object using one single step, without manually rotating and resetting the object for every step. Five-axis machining is ideal for manufacturing medical parts, aerospace machining, and other complex items.
In the molding industry, an undercut is a protrusion of the new object that will prevent it from being withdrawn from the mold. In order to successfully eject an object with an undercut from the mold, the manufacturer must create a side pull, which is a third part of the mold that must be removed when separating the other two pieces of the mold at the end of production.
Creating a side pull in the mold can increase the cost of the part since it requires the use of a more complex mold and a more advanced machine. This is when five-axis machining is most beneficial to manufacturers. It has the ability to create more complex objects that have undercuts or multi-dimensional shapes. Five-axis machining allows for deeper, heavier cuts while reducing the production time. The entire object can be produced in one step. Complex medical equipment and aerospace machining are just two types of objects that can be created quickly and efficiently utilizing the new technology.
While two-axis technology is still relevant and useful for many manufacturing processes, manufacturers are still finding even more uses for five-axis technology, allowing for its application in more complex industries, from aerospace machining to industrial production. For more effective metal removal, consider five-axis machining.
Electrical discharge machining, or EDM, is a manufacturing process that uses electrical sparks to create a desired assembly fixture, shape, or mold. EDM technology has been utilized for many years, allowing manufacturers to create complex shapes and very small pieces from extremely hard materials. As newer technologies have developed, the disadvantages of EDM technology have come to light. A few of these limitations include a slow rate of material removal, high level of power consumption, excessive tool wear, potential fire hazard, and difficulty of reproducing sharp corners on the assembly fixture.
Five-axis machining is a new trend in machining technology. Traditional two-axis machines modify objects on two coordinates, limiting this technology to products with a flat surface. Five-axis machining allows pieces to be modified on five different axes, offering more intricate cuts and multi-dimensional shapes, including perfect spheres. Objects are manipulated along multiple planes allowing for circular and diagonal axis cuts along the assembly fixture. For whatever the production job requires, this technology can rotate left-to-right, top-to-bottom, and forward and backward. Five-axis machining allows for the creation of more complex, intricate parts than traditional EDM or two-axis machining.
This process offers advantages over traditional EDM technology, including shorter production times, enhanced accuracy, and the ability to create complex objects using a single setup. Manual rotation and resetting are two steps of the production process that are completely eliminated. Five-axis technology also allows for the easier use of heavy parts, the ability to access hard-to-reach places, and an improved surface finish of the final assembly fixture.
Does this mean five-axis machining will completely replace traditional EDM machining? In all likelihood, that won’t be the case. While five-axis technology offers plenty of advantages over traditional EDM and two-axis production, it’s not beneficial or necessary to use this advanced production method in every case. Complicated projects can be completed with ease in a shorter amount of time, but less complex products can still benefit from traditional methods.
Five-axis technology opens up many doors for the future of manufacturing, but many manufacturers will continue to utilize the reliable EDM and two-axis process for the creation of less complex objects.
Detail Technologies builds and services plastic injection molds with competitive pricing, reduced lead times, net shape machining and renowned first shot quality. Specializing in gas assist, 2 shot, overmolds, lens tools, interior and exterior trim, under hood and wheel cladding. Servicing the automotive, aerospace, office furniture industries with superior 3D tool design, engineering, project management, 3, 3+2 & 5 Axis high speed/hard milling, Wire EDM, Sinker EDM and more. Preventative maintenance checks on tooling are also available.
When you come to Detail Technologies for your close tolerance machining needs, you can count on us for attention to quality and detail. We provide plastic injection mold manufacturing and contract machining for the aerospace, office furniture, medical and automotive plastic industries. With our highly-skilled staff and specialized equipment, we’re able to bring you the highest quality design engineering, project management and mold manufacturing solutions.
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