Currently, every industrial product, starting with telephones, mixers ending on vehicles, consists of countless parts. Each part is manufactured in a manner appropriate to its functionality. The main factor in the choice is the possibility of manufacture as well as the price.
When designing a part of a given component, we should design it for a given manufacturing method in advance. Elements made for machining are designed differently, where it is important that a given part can be made at all (where it is impossible to make closed elements, for example balls with a hollow center), than elements for stamping (where it is necessary to maintain angles that allow the detail to come out of the forms). In addition, some methods involve compromises. Although the initial concept assumed straight walls on the sides, if the method is to be plastic injection, it will be necessary for technological reasons to use slopes, which sometimes significantly affect the final appearance. It is obvious that the technologist will try to reproduce the original shape as faithfully as possible, however, some barriers cannot be overcome.
In one of the previous articles, we explained how the choose material from which our product will be made significantly contributes to the design process. After selecting the material, the next question- how are we going to do it? In this article, we will try to present some basic methods/technologies of material processing to be even more aware before starting the design process.
The most important types of manufacture technology used in mechanical engineering, which we will look at in particular, include:
- forming process
- casting and injection molding
Machining is currently one of the most popular forms that is used to prepare ideal materials for the production of engines, machines and vehicles. However, it is worth adding that very few people are aware of what exactly machining is and how it works? The machining process is performed using tools such as: lathes, milling machines, drills and grinders. Recently, CNC machines are also often used, which, thanks to the use of modern software, are able to produce details and mechanical components very precisely.
In machining technology the machines removes from block of material unnecessary pieces with very sharp tools such as: chisels, knives. We control these with the use of modern computer technology. Thanks to this solution, it is possible to carry out the entire machining process accurately and precisely. Thus, the project is kept in the best possible order and is consistent with the previously provided documentation. It is important to set up the machining machine correctly. It mainly depends on whether all elements will fit perfectly where they will be used. It is worth noting that sometimes a minimal difference is enough, and we will have to reject the entire series.
Machining is used especially during precise shaping of metals, plastics, glass, wood and stone. Thanks to the use of the latest technology, you can easily achieve high accuracy and repeatability of production, regardless of the type of material. Modern CNC machining allows for perfect preservation of project parameters, it is widely used primarily in the electronics, energy, medical, automotive, aviation and many other industries. Especially where accuracy counts. Machining is performed both in serial and unit production of small, small elements as well as in the shaping of machine parts of very large dimensions.
It is a type of machining of various types of workpieces. Even steel, wood, plastic and others. Everything is done using the so-called milling machine. Milling machine, which is designed to process the material with its milling cutter (multi-edge tool). Unlike turning, the cutter rotates when the workpiece itself is moved. There are four types of milling, which depend on the position of the cutter itself (face or circumferential) or the machined surface (contra-rotating, con-rotating). There are also other types of milling, such as envelope, thread or copy milling.
The most popular method of machining using specialized machines. This is the opposite process to milling. Here, the rotational movement is performed by the workpiece, and the tool, i.e. the turning tool, performs a linear movement. The basic types of turning include: longitudinal (external or internal), transverse, facing and, as in the case of copying and hobbing cutters. Of course, the entire turning process takes place on special machines called lathes.
Everyone knows this type of machining. In this case, the tool is a grinding wheel, an abrasive belt, a whetstone, in general, everything that metal can wear off . There is no need to explain in more detail what types of steel we use this treatment for. As mentioned, they are hardened, forged, rolled or cast items. Grinding is done to finish the item.
The main advantages of machining include:
- precision of the elements made, which is often problematic in the case of manual processing
- elements made on the basis of one project can be repeatable, which guarantees efficient work and minimizes the number of errors
- saving of the material used
- short turnaround time. CNC machining machines can produce individual components much faster than with traditional manual techniques.
Unfortunately, as everywhere, machining has its disadvantages, such as:
- the need to develop a project using special CAD software
- higher costs compared to traditional manual processing
- only selected materials can be machined with this method
- the processing area of a given material is limited by the working area of the machine tool
Forming process is a process thanks to which we shape, divide, change the physicochemical properties, structure and even surface smoothness. We achieve this by plastic deformation. We distinguish between cold and hot forming process. Its basic methods are: forging, embossing or stamping, drawing and bending.
It is both hot and cold forming process. We make it manually or mechanically using works or forging machines. In this case, we give the materials shapes by crushing. Forging is also used to improve the mechanical properties of the material. We distinguish between free forging used in unit and small-lot production and drop forging used in large-volume production.
As with forging, both cold and hot forming. In this case, metalworking includes the process of cutting and shaping metal sheets and strips. This is definitely one of the sheet metal working processes. The shape we want to obtain is made by cutting (this process includes: cutting, punching, trimming, slitting and embossing). The second way in which the desired shape of the material is obtained is plastic shaping without affecting its cohesion (wrapping, bending, profiling, twisting, embossing, flanging, stretching, crimping). This method is performed using a press.
As in the case of its predecessors, we perform both cold and hot drawing. It consists in systematically reducing the cross-section of our material. It can be a wire, pipe or rod. In the process, we also lengthen our material.
Often used in the roofing industry, then it is sheet metal bending. The purpose of such a procedure is to change the curvature of our material without violating its transverse dimensions. We also distinguish wood bending, but it is a completely different process in relation to metal bending. We bend the metal cold or after heating it up. Metal bending is distinguished as: stamping or forging.
The basic advantages of plastic processing include:
- Material savings – products obtained by plastic working are mass-produced. This allows us to reduce unit costs and adapt the production line in such a way that the price of manufacturing elements is as low as possible. The high decrease in production costs is due to the automation of the production process.
- Relatively low unit costs - in the case of rolling threads, as well as toothed elements such as gears, multi-notches, the improvement of mechanical properties compared to machining and the smoothness of elements is improved.
- Improvement of the physical and mechanical properties of the processed material.
- Plastic processing preserves the continuity of the fibers, which ensures better mechanical properties of the finished product.
- The ability to give complex shapes that are difficult or impossible to achieve in other technologies.
The molding method, in short, consists in shaping elements that will be easier to process in the further process. This technology is used when other technologies are too expensive. Using the molding method, it would be possible to produce objects with very complex shapes with very high accuracy, e.g. pistons, engines, housings, tools. Molding can be a simple or complicated process, it all depends on what shape we want to get and what material we are processing. So let's check what are the advantages of the casting method used in modern industry.
Using the casting method, it would be possible to produce objects with very complex shapes with very high accuracy, e.g. pistons, engines, housings, tools. Casting can be a simple or complicated process, it all depends on what shape we want to get and what material we are processing. So let's check what are the advantages of the casting method used in modern industry.
Many types of casting methods allow you to choose the most optimal one. In the case of, for example, pressure casting, the quality of the casting is very high and in most cases it does not require any machining. This technology is especially used for products made of aluminum alloys. This method allows for multi-series and mass production of various types of parts. Modern technologies also allow the creation of elements by injection molding.
Modern industry could not do without such solutions as the casting method or injection molding. These processes allow you to create a variety of elements with great precision, so their use will certainly increase in the future.
Injection molding is a process that has been used for centuries. During this period, however, it was constantly improved and modified. Thanks to this, today it is possible to flexibly adjust production to the needs of the entrepreneur. In a nutshell, the injection process consists in introducing a liquid, plasticized material into the prepared mold, which takes its shape. Then, plastic processing machines harden it, resulting in a finished element.
The injection process makes it possible to obtain any shape. It is worth emphasizing, however, that each element must have its own form, which is created for the individual customer's order. Therefore, injection molding of plastics is most profitable when mass production is planned.
The most important advantages of injection molding are:
- repeatability (possibility of mass production)
- high quality and precision of products (even complex details)
- automation of the process
- low emission of harmful substances and low production waste
These few features alone clearly show why injection molding is so often chosen. This method is used in many industries. It is used in the aviation, construction, automotive, household appliances and electrotechnical and electronic industries.
As you can see, there are many methods of processing finished details. Each is the result of a specific industrial application and has its advantages and disadvantages. The decision which method to choose depends mainly on the complexity of the detail, aesthetic and mechanical properties and price.
It may happen that a certain type of part is possible by using three or four methods (milling, turning, injection), then it is necessary to recalculate what changes are necessary to make it in given methods and what production volume we are focusing on. If it is a size of 100-1000 pieces, it may be worth using the machining method, it will save us the cost of, for example, injection molds. If the production volume is set at 10,000-100,000 of the same details, more attention will have to be paid to injection molding, which will save time and ensure repeatability of finished products.
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