How CNC Machines Build Cars

People don’t often think of the role that automated manufacturing plays in their lives. However, automated manufacturing is now common in nearly every industry – especially the automotive industry. CNC machining is responsible today for nearly every step of the car manufacturing process.

Automation in the Automotive Industry

Since Henry Ford introduced the first Model T in 1908, car manufacturers have been trying to streamline the construction process. Ford’s earliest assembly lines were the first attempts at automation, but construction was still subject to human limitations. With the introduction of CNC machines in recent years, automated machines are now capable of shaping raw materials into formed components, with end mills capable of removing excess materials as needed.

While some metal automotive parts are still mold-cast, many of the non-cast, non-metal elements of modern vehicles are fashioned by automated machines. Today, for example, many starter motors are shaped by automated machines, further increasing their reliability and durability.

Car dashboards are another example of how CNC machining is used to build components for vehicles. Typically, the dashboard is a single, angled piece designed to accommodate at a minimum the car’s steering column. It usually also has several precision cutouts for tools like the odometer, speedometer, gas gauge, and indicator lights. CNC milling machines at automotive component manufacturing plants take blocks or sheets of natural or synthetic raw materials and thermoform, then rout the dashboard frame. Another CNC machine then takes the prepared dashboard frame and attaches it to the chassis.

Customizing CNC Machinery for Vehicles

Modern, customized automated machinery have allowed car manufacturers also to increase the performance capabilities of vehicles too. The modern 2-liter engine averages about 100 greater horsepower than the engines of those that were created before the advent of CNC machines. These parts were designed with reinforced parts to withstand the greater demands of high-performance vehicles.

While automated tasks can be repetitive, with process customization, finished products can vary significantly from model to model. Custom CNC machines can perform the intricate, complicated work as well as the routine precision tasks that both human beings and mass-produced assembly-line machines once performed in concert.

Ins and Outs of Linear Rail Systems for CNC Machines

When working with CNC machines that require significant movement along the X and Y-axes, the usage of linear rail devices can help to facilitate that movement. Learn more about these vital elements of CNC machining.

How Does a Linear Rail System Work?

While their job may initially appear to be insignificant, linear rails perform an essential role in the performance of automated machining. When combined with a gantry, these tracks make up a support system that can carry computerized cutting devices both horizontally and vertically. One of the most important functions of these slide features is to allow the proper amount of friction for the machine to travel freely. In automated machinery, inertia is controlled by the automated programming. These rails not only provide CNC machines with a measured path to travel but are also vital to supporting secondary functions such as torque or lateral loads.

Components of a Linear System

Depending on the size or complexity of the CNC machine, a linear rail may use either ball bearings or roller slides to move the length of the rail. For larger systems, roller slides are typically preferred for added strength and to reduce the price of a ball bearing system. However, if the slides associated with this form of motion system are not appropriate for the CNC machine, using these systems can be counterproductive.

Why Are Rail Systems Useful?

In short, without the use of a linear rail system, CNC machines would have no path for movement. A properly functioning linear system is firmly affixed in place. If a rail system is improperly installed, it will impair the ability of the machine to travel as directed on the path. Ensuring the proper motion system not only allows a system to perform an ordered task, but it can also save money associated with repair costs for both damaged machines and rail systems.

The increasing reliance of manufacturers on automated technology means that more companies are utilizing these types of machines. Linear movement systems are not only important for smaller projects but are also essential for the construction of larger products such as airplane wings and boat hulls.

Benefits, Parts, and Overview of CNC Routers

Before computer controlled machines, routers were operated exclusively by hand. Today, routers have evolved for cutting metals, plastics, molds, and much more. Modern CNC machines take advantage of advanced software to create geometric patterns via computer and then output those patterns to a router for completion.

Benefits of CNC Routers

CNC routers are far faster than traditional routers, which must be operated by hand. Secondly, CNC routers offer precision and the ability to replicate the same product with near perfection. This is where the software prevails because it will output the same patterns every time until the operator changes the configuration. CNC machining can be used for projects as simple as hollowing out a door for installing a lock, to projects as complex as trimming the hull of a boat.

How CNC Routers Work

The typical CNC router can make cuts on the X, Y, or Z-axis. With these capabilities, craftspeople can make intricate cuts when working on a design. CNC machining parts also provide a wide variety of part customization. For example, operators can choose between upcut and downcut drills depending on the job. Upcut drills rotate in a direction which pulls the cutting material refuse up from the surface. Downcut drills, conversely, push the cutting materials down during the cutting process, leaving a cleaner surface cut.

Common Parts Explanations

CNC machines are made up of four major parts. First, the CNC portion itself, which contains the computer parts and data, allowing the craftsperson to use the software that will create the end design. Second, the spindle, which is the portion which does the cutting and contains either router or drill bits, depending on the job. Third, the cutting bed is the work surface where the materials sit. Lastly, the linear drive system, which allows for the three axis motion.

CNC machines are high precision instruments, but as detailed as they have become, these tools still require programming and human monitoring to operate. Users must still place materials to be cut in place and monitor the machines for safety. However, once programmed, routers can significantly cut down on project times.

The Importance of Getting Young Students Involved in Engineering

Engineers at a CNC machining company are responsible for designing and constructing complex computer programs that are then used to create all manner of machinery. This is a field that is certain to grow well into the future as new technologies are developed. In order to ensure that the next generation of CNC machines has a talented crop of engineers to design and operate them, it is important to introduce children to the basics of engineering at an early age.

Natural Affinity

Many children naturally gravitate towards engineering without being aware of it. Anyone who has watched children at play knows that they love to build and create. Stacking blocks, assembling train tracks, and designing forts are all activities which help children understand basic principles of engineering. These fun activities can be used to teach basics that may later be used in an exciting career with a CNC machining company.

Improved Math and Science Skills

When children are taught math and science skills in school, the concepts are often presented without context, meaning students can struggle to grasp the real world applications. Teaching children about engineering can help them to better understand how to apply what they learn about these skills. This, in turn, gives them a deeper comprehension of what they are taught in the classroom.

Problem-Solving Skills

Once students understand how to apply their math and science knowledge, engineering can be an excellent vehicle for teaching problem-solving skills. This is a hands-on course of study in which there is not necessarily one right answer and failure is as good a way to learn as a success. Teaching engineering to young students teaches them the importance of experimenting to solve problems with out-of-the-box approaches.

Future Jobs

Besides working with a CNC machining company, the options for engineering careers are nearly endless. Whether a child dreams of building bridges or creating new smartphone technology, engineering is a versatile field that will only continue to grow into the next century. Teaching principles of engineering early creates a foundation which will be invaluable later in life.

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.