Common Industry Usage of Thermoformed Products

Photo Of Products Made With A Plastic Machining Center - CMS North AmericaPlastics have become ubiquitous in nearly every industry, in part due to the impact of the thermoforming plastic machining process. Thermoforming involves the use of heat and pressure to create new products. The use of this technology has been incorporated by companies around the world to create reliable, durable goods at low costs.

Thermoforming Overview

Thermoformed products are created using CNC machines, which utilize a three-step process. First, a flat sheet of plastic is heated, then the sheet is placed in a mold and is finally trimmed. The types of plastics used in thermoforming are nearly as varied as the products themselves and include synthetic, semi-synthetic, or natural materials. The majority of plastics are made from petrochemicals, but those made from plant-based materials, or bioplastics, are becoming increasingly common due to their sustainability.

Thin-gauged plastic products include items like disposable cups, storage containers, plates, and many other products used in the food and medical fields. Thick gauge materials include products such as vehicle panels, refrigerator and shower liners, and shipping pallets.

Some of the many industries that have harnessed the potential of CNC plastic machining include:

Automotive Industry

Thermoforming is used most often in the automotive industry for creating items like vehicle doors and interior panels, such as dashboards. Multi-axis cuts with thermoforming CNC machines are typically required for compatibility with the additional parts used in automobile construction.

Building Industry

The building industry utilizes a broad range of thermoformed products in the construction of homes or businesses, including HVAC components, shower stalls, and more.

Medical Industry

Products often used in the medical industry include storage units and covers for contaminated items, bezels, and instrument enclosures. Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), for example, is often used in the industry as sterile packaging to ensure the integrity of medical products.

Aerospace Industry

The aerospace industry uses thermoformed products for the creation of seat backs, interior panels, and instrument coverings. In an industry that relies heavily on weight, plastic parts are an ideal lightweight building component.

CMS North America provides CNC machines and resources to meet a variety of plastic machining objectives, including thermoforming machines. Contact them for more information on the benefits of CNC machining center technology.

Tips for a Safe CNC Machining Workspace

Photo Of A Machining Workspace - CMS North AmericaIn any workplace, there are a variety of safety risks which employees must observe. When working with CNC machines, safety protocol is particularly important. CNC machining company employers should clearly communicate rules to its employees about proper safety guidelines for working with these high-tech machines.

Basic Safety Requirements

It goes without saying that a company and all its employees must follow the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) legal requirements. Furthermore, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) continuously publishes new voluntary standards for the care and safety of such machinery. A CNC machining company can comply with the latest ANSI requirements, as they often go hand-in-hand with OSHA regulations.

Safety Tips for CNC Machines

  • Schedule training sessions for new employees and refresher sessions for veteran workers, especially if OSHA or ANSI regulations change.
  • Routinely check moving parts in the machine, the path of its router and its surrounding area for any obstacles that could potentially impede or redirect the automation.
  • Conduct one or more trial runs of the equipment to ensure that the parts are properly calibrated. If available, use the lock feature to keep the X, Y, and Z axes still while running the program.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, such as goggles, ear protectors, and non-slip shoes. Workers should not wear loose clothing or jewelry that could potentially get caught in a machine with a rotating, reciprocating, or transversing motion.
  • Never use a piece of equipment that has a “Danger” sign unless a supervisor is authorized to remove it when they determine that it is safely operational once again.

Additionally, employees can study a brief history of CNC to understand the context of these powerful pieces of equipment. While consistently upgrading and maintaining quality machines and training workers on a regular basis may seem costly at first, it proves a necessary and worthy investment. A CNC machining company not only saves money in the long run, but it can also save lives and limbs.

Waterjet 101: What You Need to Know

Photo Of Waterjet Machining Equipment - CMS North AmericaWaterjet cutting technology encompasses a wide range of subtractive industrial machines used in the process of material cutting. These units have gained a reputation for their low-cost, high-precision cuts.

What Is Waterjet Cutting?

In the simplest terms, a waterjet is any cutting tool that uses a high-pressure stream of water to cut materials. Diverse machining models can either utilize the pure force of water or be paired with abrasive accelerants, such as garnet. These machines can be preferable to other cutting methods because they utilize a low volume of water to create a very thin stream of high-pressure water to perform difficult tasks. There are multiple varieties on the market today, including those with multiple cutting heads to produce multiple cuts at the same time.

How Is This Type of Cutting Used?

Waterjet technology can be used for part manufacturing for nearly any industry. Typically, pure waterjet units are used to cut softer materials like foam, paper, plastics, or carpet. Abrasive machining, on the other hand, is used to cut harder materials such as metals, wood, and glass.

Though there are many types of waterjet units, the process remains largely the same. Water or abrasive material is shot at a cut surface at anywhere from 60,000 to 90,000 psi. The water or abrasives act similarly to a mechanical saw to create fine cuts.

What Are the Benefits?

When waterjet cutting materials were becoming increasingly common in the 1980s, the cut kerf was much larger. Today, CMS has waterjet CNC machining, which can make complex cuts with up to 5 axes. One of the many benefits of using this variety of CNC technology today is that the cut material is not affected, as no heat is created during the process.

Another of the major benefits of using this technology is its versatility, both in the materials capable of being used and the range of items that can be cut. Most waterjet machines can be adjusted to meet the demands of diverse materials.

Industries as diverse as medical, defense, maritime, and aerospace have discovered the benefits of this type of machining. Additional material is available for companies interested in learning more about the technical aspects of waterjet CNC cutting capabilities.

The Relationship Between CNC Machining and Boat Construction

Photo Of A Boat Hull Made With CNC Machining - CMS North AmericaThe boat building process is often associated with precision, hand-made artistry. The process, which once took weeks to complete, can now be accomplished inside of a day with the aid of CNC machines. Learn more about the process and the relationship between these machines and the boat building process.

Speed and Precision

Perhaps the clearest benefit of using CNC machining in the boat building process is efficiency. CAD-reading machining means that boats can theoretically be designed in the morning and cut in the afternoon. Boatyards can take advantage of these machines in the creation of composite hulls and deck components, as well as the creation of large-scale molds that can be assembled on-site.

Creating Design Molds

Another central advantage of using CNC machining is the ability to construct molds, which can then be replicated. Using large-scale models with a moving bridge, like the Poseidon, Poseidon Maxi, or Cronus, boat manufacturers can take advantage of 5-axis machining with over 200 feet of envelopment, 33 feet in width, and 16.5 feet in height.

In conjunction with CNC Machining, contemporary boat manufacturers can utilize newer construction materials, further increasing efficiency. Many of these new materials are more durable, lighter, and cheaper than traditional materials.

Construction and Trimming

Before a boat model can be applied on top of a hull, models must be treated and trimmed of excess materials. Models like CMS’s 5-axis CNC machining use laser scanning and data acquisition technology to check boats for areas that need trimming after the assembly phase. Large-scale machining units, like the Poseidon, are capable of trimming the largest fiberglass hulls and decks with precision.

Special Features and Interiors

Modern boats feature many different types of hatches, fixtures, and metal fasteners. Special computer assisted automating processes can be used to carve these areas. Structures intended for interior design can also be created with the assistance of CNC technology, helping to reduce the time and costs typically associated with specialty manual labor.

From design to creation, manufacturers who take advantage of CNC machining in their construction process can greatly decrease the time and expense associated with traditional boat construction.

What a Job in CNC Machining Looks Like

Photo Of CNC Machine Workers - CMS North AmericaComputer numerical control (CNC) machining uses a computer interface to program data points into a multi-axis tool system that precisely mills material to the desired shape. A job in CNC machining can blossom into a rewarding career of manufacturing the items that make modern living possible.

What Does a CNC Machinist Do?

A CNC machinist monitors and maintains the sophisticated equipment that is used to cut metal, wood, glass, and more. This includes ensuring that the machine is supplied with raw materials, programming the machine for different tasks, checking the finished product while providing quality control, and maintaining or repairing the machine for quality assurance.

Education and Training

In most cases, a high school diploma is sufficient for an entry-level CNC machining job. Students with an early interest in the profession can get a jump-start on their training by familiarizing themselves with tools, drafting techniques, welding, and other shop work. If a student attends a high school that doesn’t offer wood or metal working courses, he or she can still pursue a job in CNC machining. A strong background in math and computer sciences, especially algebra, trigonometry, and geometry will provide a good foundation. After high school, aspiring machinists usually enroll in an apprenticeship program to learn the job from an experienced teacher. Those interested in learning more about the industry can sign up for CMS North America’s newsletter to stay apprised of the latest developments.

Job Prospects and Salary

The history of CNC machining is one of relentless innovation. That innovation has led to an increase in jobs for machinists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for CNC machining professionals will increase by 10%. With a median salary of $43,740, a machinist can provide a stable foundation for starting a family. Experienced CNC machinists can earn more as they progress through their career.

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding CNC Machines

Photo Of A CNC Machine - CMS North AmericaCNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines redefine how manufacturing companies carry out various production processes. It is important to look at the specifications of the CNC machines available to choose one that resonates with the needs of the manufacturing company.

Here are the primary facts about these new generation machining processes.

Use of Advanced Technology

CNC machines are designed and assembled using top of the line technologies. Computers are used to test and monitor the functionality of the machines to ensure that they are working optimally and capable of delivering expected results. Engineers develop CNC commands that are then interpreted by the CNC control. For any given CNC machine, there will be about 40-50 commands. The computer automated manufacturing (CAM) software program can aid machinists in more complex programming commands.

Improves Manufacturing Capacity and Precision

The success of any manufacturing company is dependent on the efficiency of its production. CNC machines are designed to improve precision while increasing production capacity. This, in turn, translates into higher profits for the company.

Cost Saving

The machines allow the operators or technicians to take full advantage of the available raw materials by reducing waste. For example, companies that invest in CNC machines designed for wood machining can produce more high-quality wood products, such as gunstocks, without spending a fortune on raw materials. The reduction in operating costs enables companies to achieve their profit margins and sales objectives.

Promote Safety

CNC machines have the ability to do various tasks fast and with high precision while still maintaining a high level of safety. They have sensors and other safety features that have the ability to pinpoint flaws in the machine before disaster strikes. Since most of the processes are automated, operators can monitor them from the safety of the control room.

Enhanced Efficiency and Durability

Finding equipment and tools that are efficient and durable is not easy. The engineers who design and assemble computer numerical control machines have successfully managed to achieve both objectives by installing internal quality assurance sensors. These sensors monitor the quality of the end product to ensure it meets the set standards and requirements. The equipment is made from tested and approved parts and materials that can last for decades.

CNC machines have an immensely positive impact on the manufacturing process. Be sure to train employees on how to operate them to get maximum utility.

The History of Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

Photo Of A CNC Machine - CMS North AmericaSince the industrial revolution, modern life has depended on advanced machinery to manufacture everything from textiles to steel. The advent of computer numerical control (CNC) machines revolutionized the manufacturing industry by allowing for a programmable design of virtually limitless types of shapes. Tracing the history of computer numerical control demonstrates not only its importance but also the accelerating pace of change in manufacturing.

Precursors to Numerical Controls

Early attempts at automation began with camshafts designed with ridges placed in particular points to control machine tools. The cam would turn, and the pre-arranged grooves would trigger machine controls, similar to the way a player piano operates. While this basic method was successful at repeated and unmanned performance of simple tasks (notably carving out the gun stocks that were used by both sides during World War I), it wasn’t numerical control. CNC machining uses the abstract language of numbers to allow programmable designs that can be refined or completely altered. Cams, by contrast, must be machined and are not easily altered.

The Birth of Numerical Control

John T. Parsons is credited with developing the first numerical control system. While working as a machinist at his father’s company in the 1940s, Parsons begin working on innovative ways to build helicopter rotors for the nascent aerospace industry. Teaming with Frank Stulen, the two developed a method where one machinist would read the coordinates along an x and y-axis to two other machinists who would then make the cut. From there, they teamed with researchers at MIT to develop punch cards that could be programmed with enough points to provide for fully automated machining.

CNC Machining and CAD

Computer Assisted Design (CAD) teamed up with CNC machining to further improve the advances made in the 1940s and early 50s. Again, MIT led the way by developing a programming language that would generate coordinates for machined parts automatically, significantly reducing the time needed to develop the instructions fed into the milling machine. The real advent of CNC machining came in 1959 when the MIT team successfully demonstrated an entirely automated machine that produced aluminum ashtrays. The first CAD program—the electronic drafting machine—allowed designers to ‘draw’ the desired part right on the computer interface, bypassing paper drafting. By the 1970s, CAD programs were widely in use.

In the span of a generation, CNC machining advanced to such a degree that it made possible the widespread automation of virtually any machined part of wood, stone, or metal. This has reduced time and labor costs and allowed goods to spread across the globe for a fraction of what a hand-made equivalent would cost.

Tricks to Determine Which Natural Stone Is Right for a Project

Photo Of A Stone Cutting Machine - CMS North AmericaWhen it comes to stone machining, it can be difficult to decide whether natural stones, such as limestone, are right for a new project. Here are some issues that can sometimes arise with natural materials, which will help determine the best type of material for a stone machining project.

Erosion

Erosion can happen due to weathering, as described below, or it can happen due to poor handling or excess exposure. One way to combat erosion is to use the stone in areas that are shielded from harsh winds by bushes or other landscaping.

Peeling and Crumbling

Peeling means that the stone is coming apart in layers. This can be either a defect or a result of the coating products used. Crumbling can occur if the stone itself is weak, but regular maintenance to preserve the material can prevent this from happening.

Weathering

Weathering is an effect that occurs due to natural environmental patterns, such as rain, wind, snow, and heat. Most natural stone is extremely durable; however, unlike metal, it does absorb water easily, which can cause issues. Little can be done to prevent weathering, but it would be wise not to use certain stones, like limestone, where water will be consistently in contact with it.

Chipping and Cracking

Chipping can happen due to use or vandalism at the edges of the stone. A skilled mason can repair chips. Cracking, too, can sometimes occur with natural material. Minor cracks aren’t always an issue, but major cracks have to be repaired through either patching or total replacement.

While natural stone has worked as a valuable and durable material throughout history and across many different industries, it’s important to consider the placement and usage of the finished product when determining the right type of stone material. Stone machining can create intricate architectural elements, functional interior design pieces, and more using the right materials.

Looking Ahead: Trends to Watch in the Float Glass Industry

The global float glass market is projected to hit 84 million metric tons by 2020. Potential high demand from automotive and construction markets is expected to spur this growth. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market thanks to rising construction activity, rapid urbanization, and increasing demand for luxury cars, which use more glass than conventional options. Mature markets, such as Europe and North America, are expected to benefit from new energy policies for buildings and laminated glazing.

China

In 2013, China accounted for about 48 percent of the worldwide glass demand, and this is expected to grow to 52 percent in 2018. Traditionally, high demand for flat glass has been identified with Japan, Western Europe, and North America. Today, China is the largest national glass market in the world. Many manufacturers in China are geared to create products that meet the Western production level and environmental standards. This adaptation is expected to change the face of the Chinese glass industry in the next ten years.

The North American Market

In the glass industry, North America is the strongest market, and manufacturers anticipate an increased demand for glass and its products. The primary markets that show a steady demand include residential, commercial, and automotive, and they are expected to demand even more glass in the coming years. The emerging energy market is projected to be a lucrative opportunity for industry players, with increasing use in e-glass, solar panels, and photovoltaic modules representing a key factor in driving growth.

Effect of Economic Issues

Industry experts anticipate glass industry markets in Russia and some South American countries to remain slow due to economic issues. The economies of many countries in Africa are under equipped, but Africa remains a region of growth potential. Political uncertainties in several African and South American countries are posing risks that may destabilize markets in those areas. However, many companies in these areas are expected to look into creating partnerships with major industry players in mature markets.

Industry Players

Manufacturing and production companies make up part of the robust force that is driving the growth in the glass industry. More companies are poised to emerge to meet the high demand in automotive and construction industries with products such as double-thick glasses, hybrid guide plate, lightweight glazing glass, and solar control glazing glasses. With more mergers and acquisitions comes additional growth.

Flat glass is the major material that is used in the production of windows, windscreens, photovoltaic modules, solar panels, and facades. The demand for these products is high, with a predicted growth in the glass industry forecasted at a CAGR of 5.5 percent from 2016 to 2021.

4 Essential General Safety Rules for CNC Machining

By law, CNC shops and operators are required to adhere to the safety rules that apply to CNC machining. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers guidelines and regulations for running a CNC shop, and operators who fail to follow them risk getting fines and penalties. Here are some of the general rules that companies must follow.

1. Operators Should Have Proper Training

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining involves a technical process of controlling the motion of parts and tools through a computer software that uses numeric data. Whether a CNC shop has mills or lathes, the operators must be adequately trained to inspect, maintain, and use the machine, brand, and controller type. Being skilled in the programming of CAD and CAM programs is also essential for experienced users.

2. The Area Around the Machine Must Be Free of Obstacles

Before a machining or tooling process is initiated, the machinist must inspect the machine to remove any obstacles that may fly off and hit someone. The user must check the path of the router to ensure that there are no screws that can stay embedded in the project. The floor should be clear of sawdust and scraps to prevent any possible accidents.

3. Conducting a Dry Run Is Important

Before beginning the actual CNC machining process, the operator must conduct a trial run to ensure that all moving parts are set and configured correctly. Most machines have a lock feature that allows users to scan the program for mistakes. During this process, the spindle will run, the control will execute the program, and the turret will index. However, only the axes (X, Y and Z) will stay still.

4. Operators Must Dress Accordingly

Users should never wear gloves while operating the machine. Jewelry should be avoided as some can conduct electrical charges as well as getting caught in machinery. Wearing loose clothing is also prohibited since the operator risks getting pulled into the machinery, and this can be quite fatal.

In any workplace, safety comes first. Operators must understand all the safety features on the machine such as curtain guards, contact mats, guard fencing, soundproof casing, and emergency stop button operation to ensure a safe CNC machining operation.